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Published on 22nd June 2006 as part of Di Alexander's excellent series
'Down your Way'
with photos taken by Richard Pasco

 

"A Village with a little bit of everything"

Not too many villages can boast either an airfield or an operational railway station but Kemble has both. It also has a thriving school, a well used village shop and Post Office, a pub and a village hall that is over 100 years old.

On June 18th, around 20,000 people visited Kemble Air Show on the airfield which celebrated its 70th anniversary this year. The show is organised by Glen Moreman who is also involved in other airfield events, such as the annual Steam Rally in August.
wgrp0854v06 kemble Glen, whose father worked at the airfield during and after the war, is a qualified flight information service officer working from the control tower. He became involved 11 years ago as a volunteer and found himself with a full time job.

"The Air Show is a local show for local people. We concentrate mainly on vintage jets because that's what Kemble is well known for. People like coming here because it's much more relaxed that the bigger shows. The Red Arrows come back every year - we couldn't have an Air Show without them. They were so much part of the scene for 20 years and they still are," said Glen who has no qualms about coping with the vastly increased Air Show traffic, since the main road right past the airfield makes getting in and out easy.

Kemble Airfield which was the headquarters of service ferry squadrons during World War II is now home to around 50 businesses employing approximately 650 people. They range from Cotswold Archaeology to the Gooseberry Bush Nursery and include the AV8 Restaurant and the Wings Cafe as well as five flying clubs.

There have been five generations of the Wixey family living in Kemble wgrp0856h06 kemblewith David and Mags Wixey taking over The Tavern Inn a year ago. "Air Show weekend is manic.  We can serve up to 150 Sunday lunches instead of around 50. It's scary," said Mags. She has made a great effort to make the pub attractive, with hanging baskets and flowers all around the outside. She makes all the food and is currently setting up a Senior Citizens Luncheon Day every Wednesday.

ayres This will no doubt be popular with the five senior members of another old Kemble family, the Ayres. Bert, Arthur, Howard, Gordon and Harry, aged from 93 to 75, often enjoy their pint at The Tavern, after a lifetime of working on Kemble Farms.

wgrp0857v06 kembleStandard correspondent, Pat Ayres came to Kemble when she married Brian, the next generation of Ayres family. She finds it a very caring village where people look out for each other, especially the elderly. She has seen Kemble change from a small farming village to one which has nearly 800 people on the electoral roll. She is keen to promote the village hall for which she organised centenary celebrations in 1999 and she has set up a Kemble history archive at the school, with the blessing of the headteacher. "I love it here. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. And we're so lucky to have the station on the doorstep," she said.

At Kemble station, from Monday to Saturday, Ken Wellings supervises around 35 trains a day going to and from London, with the 6.49 and wgrp0855h06 kemble 7.47am the most popular for commuters who come to Kemble in ever increasing numbers, filling the huge station car park. In 2005 Kemble won the best small station of the year award in competition with 2,600 other stations thanks to Ken who cleans the station and two volunteers who look after the many flowers.

Between 6.15 and 10.30am on weekdays, Deirdre Clarke runs the Off the Rails Cafe, serving a full range of coffees, home baked croissants, bacon butties and other delights to hungry commuters. "Its popularity has far exceeded our expectations and the commuters are a very pleasant bunch. It's worth getting up early to feed them. We also sell newspapers including The Standard which is sold almost as soon as it comes in," said Deirdre who has now opened The Goods Shed Cafe on Stroud station, with her partner, Nick.

Kamlesh Chudasama has run Kemble Post Office and Stores for 17 years. wgrp0859h06 kemble He stocks a wide variety of groceries and green groceries, as well as wines and spirits, local ice cream and lovely greetings cards. People can still draw their pensions there and there is the added advantage of a cash machine. Local events are well advertised and Kamlesh provides a lottery service and, of course, sells Air Show tickets.
"We've been made to feel very welcome. Local people try to use the shop as much as possible and we feel very much a part of the local community. Our children are now at Deer Park, but first they went to Kemble School," said Kamlesh.

Of the 94 children at Kemble School, around 80 percent are local. The school has close links with the church where children attend special services and learn about religion and the school is on very good terms with the churchwardens.

wgrp0858h06 kemble Conversely, a recent concert in the school was put on by members of the church, as was an art exhibition.

The governors regard the school as being at the heart of the community and many children belong to village groups, like the Brownies who use the school field and the Youth Drama Group at the Village Hall.

Kemble at Play, the organisation responsible for the recreation area at Clayfurlong, is keen for school children to be involved and some have sat on its committee. The parish council works closely with the school and the children's views were included in the village appraisal.

"We share the children with village organisations and we get very good support for our activities like bonfire night and our fetes and fair. The school is right at the centre of the community," said headteacher Barry Parsons.

Kemble is obviously a hive of activity - and not only on Air Show weekend.

Di Alexander

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