Open to all residents of Keevil, both men and women, we help look after our village. We meet Monday mornings at 9.30am for deployment. Email Paul Lenaerts for details on firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of the things we do/have done:
- Paint the railings
- Strim the verges
- Clear the ditches
- Trim overgrowth back from footpaths
- Mow the Recreation Ground
- Plant flower beds at the Banfield Memorial and Coronation Bench
- Litter picking
- Painting village hall walls and steps
- Various repairs
- Installed new noticeboard at the Recreation Ground and replace the goalposts
September 2019: Horsa Glider Project
You don’t have to have lived in Keevil long to understand the importance the village places on the Airfield – both its history and its current operations. Any initial concern felt by new residents about noise and disturbance is soon replaced by a deep respect for the role played by RAF Keevil in the 1940’s and as a training venue for the armed forces ever since.
Keevil Airfield played its part in the two 1944 operations Overlord in June, and Market Garden in September. In both these operations, Horsa gliders towed by Stirling bombers and Dakotas took off from Keevil, each glider carrying troops and equipment on a ‘one-way’ trip to the continent.
When Keevil-born joiner and war historian Robin Blackmore suggested to the Shed that a fitting memorial to the Horsa glider could be a 1/10th size model displayed in the village, we didn’t have to think too long before agreeing it was a great idea. Rob had seen such a model on the village green at Wroughton and supplied us with photos. Armed with the photos, drawings from Wikipedia and with the enthusiastic support of the Parish Council, we determined to build the model as a seat, and site it on the Playing Field within a stone’s throw of the airfield dispersal pads, where 75 years ago, a real Horsa probably stood.
Sourcing the timber for a fuselage was the first challenge and by a stroke of good fortune, Peter Dixon (notable resident and active Shed member) offered us the trunk of a walnut which had been felled a number of years previously. Peter had visions of it becoming a nice piece of furniture one day but selflessly donated it “as long as we didn’t waste it” !
Whilst being reasonably cylindrical and of the right length, we concluded that it would need to be ‘machined’ to improve its shape. The ‘machining’ process consisted of Bryan Banfield with a chainsaw, plus Mick Abraham, John Tucker and I spending quite a few hours operating a make-shift lathe and a belt sander. Fortunately, it turned out well and we didn’t waste it !
Having solved the fuselage challenge, we set about making the tailplane with some green oak that Robin had put to one side for us, using templates scaled up from the Wikipedia drawings. That worked out fine so then we turned our attention to the wings. We couldn’t find anyone with a spare bit of timber big enough, so much against our principles, we concluded we would have to buy some ! Fortunately, the Parish Council provided the funds and we got some more green oak from a local sawmill.
The final assembly was heavily dependent on John Tucker’s joinery skills (and dowel kit) together with lots more man-hours with chisel and mallet. We needed an artistic input for the cockpit detailing and Pat Tucker, Queen of the Village Art Group, was commissioned to add the final touch.
We installed our Horsa screwed down to concreted-in posts (see images below) with a few days to spare before the 75th anniversary of Market Garden, and there was just time for a final coat of wood treatment.
The party of Sappers duly arrived on Saturday 7th September for the mid-day wreath-laying service at Stocks Green plaque, and after their traditional bike ride returned to the village to check out the Horsa and test its seating capacity! I am happy to report that they were mightily impressed by the model and it stood the test of being sat-upon by eight Sappers !
Paul Lenaerts 9th September 2019
Shed members install the Horsa seat on the playing field:
Could you love a little corner of Keevil?
The Community Shed isn’t just about heavy stuff like strimming, ditch clearance and drains, and it’s certainly not just for the chaps!
Now the weather is warming up a bit we can turn our attention to some of the gentler aspects such as the lovely borders we’ve been developing between the Banfield memorial and the WI bench on the recreation ground.
We have other projects in mind – at the Coronation Bench, for example – and are open to ideas. Could you help? Even if it’s just a bit of weeding every now and again, and watering in dry weather, it would make a real difference, especially to the bits of the village we find it harder to get up to very often (again, the Coronation Bench a prime example).
Contact Geoff West (870425, email@example.com) or Sarah Dow (871729, firstname.lastname@example.org) with ideas or for details…
Great British Spring Clean 2019
We forgot to take a picture when everyone was around! Thanks to the many villagers who turned up to help, full report will follow from Paul in due course 🙂
Now the better weather has finally arrived we have started mowing the Playing Field and the 3 compost bins we made last year were almost filled with the grass cuttings from the first session on 26th March. We’re hoping after that first cut, we can ‘mulch’, but it depends on the weather.
Looking back at last year’s records, I see that the first cut was on 6th March – almost 3 weeks earlier than this year. We still had snow lying on that date this year ! We mowed 29 times last year with the last session on 22nd November and with the flower border that Geoff and Sarah in particular have worked hard on, we hope you agree our efforts have been worth it.
The ‘Shed’ haven’t been the only force for recent improvements on the Playing Field (or more properly the James Banfield Recreation Ground). Janet White’s use of the Keevil Society grant to get the adjacent path upgraded to gravel, and the WI commissioning the new path and bench have both been great successes thanks to the efforts of Mark Drewett and Gerry Vaughan. All in all, I think we can feel rightly proud of the new look and it’s good to see more people, young and old enjoying the space. We can look forward to the first full village event here on 7th July with the Keevil Church Fete & Family Fun Day. Let’s hope James Banfield will be looking down and grant us good weather !
Back to ‘Shed’ business and I wonder if anyone can help with a mower dilemma we have? The new ‘Ride-On’ is doing well but we also use a Hayter ‘walk-behind’ for the twiddly bits. It has a 56cm wide cut, a rear roller to propel it and would be ideal for a large smart lawn. However, we don’t really need the stripes and could do with a 4 wheeled job which is a bit more manoeuvrable. So if anyone fancies a swap, give me a call or talk to your local ‘shedder’. We would need a petrol one with driven back wheels that collects the mowings and has a cut of at least 50cm width.
Paul Lenaerts, 870186
KEEVIL LITTER PICK 2018
After being postponed from snow, the Keevil Litter Pick finally got underway under cloudy skies and drizzle with 21 villagers signing up to attack the roadside rubbish that we all drive by regularly.
Wiltshire Council worked hard to “engage” with residents, and came up with litter picks, hoops, bags and gloves to make the task slightly less daunting. They have also arranged for all the bags to be picked up next week from the collection point at Cold Harbour crossroads.
So we split up into teams as the drizzle fortunately dried up, and bagged the trash from Wick Lane cross roads through the village to the A350. This year we also went up Seend Farm Road and past the sewage works to the A361.
The haul didn’t quite match the quantity we got last year, but the variety was perhaps even more amazing. It included a flat screen telly and an iPhone in its wallet, with undoubtedly the most stimulating item being found by John Tucker (who else !). Decency prevents a full description here but he’ll be delighted to demonstrate I’m sure (when he has fitted new batteries !).
A big thanks to all volunteers, especially Ian Simpson who ferried teams to the further reaches of the Parish in his faithful old Volvo, and transported the smelly, leaky bags to the collection point.
The photos show the full team outside the Village Hall at ‘kick-off’ and the last bunch with the pile of 30 bags plus at Cold Harbour crossroads.
Paul Lenaerts Saturday 24th March 2018
Ride-on Mower Grant
See here for an update on the Community Shed grant for the ride-on mower.
The Keevil “Shedders” have been busy around the Village most Monday mornings through this year, plus mowing the playing field when the weather permitted. Now winter is approaching, it seems a good time to report on the year’s activities.
We started 2017 with a grant from the Melksham Area Board which enabled us to purchase the ride-on mower for the playing field. We had to modify the storage shed to take the mower, and gave it a ‘face-lift’ at the same time.
The mower arrived in February and we started mowing in March. So far this year we have cut the grass on the playing field 24 times and by the time you read this we hope the grass will have stopped growing! Also the border by the entrance has been much improved by Geoff West assisted by Sarah Dow.
Meanwhile, other “non-shed” activities on the playing field have been the construction of the wonderful new WI bench by Gerry Vaughan, together with the new path to it and improved surface to the path from Martins Road.
All in all, we hope you agree that the playing field is now looking ten times better than a year ago!
Elsewhere, we have strimmed the Main Street bank from The Old Bakery to Manor Farm entrance every month since the snowdrops finished, painted more railings, refurbished the light over the Church gate, painted the outside of the Village Hall and completed many smaller jobs too numerous to mention.
Since we started in April 2016, we have clocked up over 80 sessions, putting in over 1,200 hours of voluntary labour. This financial year, we have received donations of £600 as well as £510 from the Parish Council for mowing the playing field, and £56 for insurance. The money goes towards our equipment and running costs, as well as a fund to replace the mowers etc, in the future.
None of this work would be possible without a “Shed” to base ourselves in and we would particularly like to thank Pat and Bryan Banfield for providing this. Bryan is also a regular “shedder” so extra thanks to him and all the other volunteers who make our sessions productive, sociable and fun – not to mention the hard work !
Origins of the Keevil Community Shed
The original Keevil Society was formed on 20th July 1987 by residents, with the founding aim of “stimulating interest and care for the beauty and character of the village among those who live here, a collective desire to keep Keevil unique in its own small way”.
In 1990 members published the first edition of the famous Book of Keevil; three more publications followed culminating in Book IV which was published in 2002. These remarkable books are the result of dedicated work by many people most of whom are past or present residents of the village. These volumes tell the history of the village together with stories of the interesting people and buildings which formed the community. In addition, a Village Design Statement was drawn up and agreed, to provide a guide for those that considered planning applications for new buildings and modifications to existing properties. The Keevil Society also organised talks on subjects of local interest, and promoted many social events to bring residents together for the betterment of the community.
Whilst the Society was unquestionably successful in achieving its original aims, by the end of the “noughties”, other village groups had formed and grown, and it was finally decided, in 2015, to ‘wind up’ the Keevil Society. It was agreed to use its not inconsiderable bank balance to fund other promising projects in the village, and one of these was the Keevil Shed.
Inspiration for the Shed came from Bob Ayres, a “newcomer from Oz” who had experience of Mens Sheds in Australia. His enthusiasm struck a chord with villagers who were getting increasingly frustrated by government cuts which were reducing the amount of maintenance work on things that made the village look nice and function properly. There were a couple of inconsistencies in the “Shed” concept however: an all male group didn’t seem right, and the need was not for therapeutic personal projects in a workshop, more a band of volunteers to get stuck into outside jobs that needed doing.
So early in 2016, the Keevil Community Shed was born with a £1,500 grant from the Keevil Society’s coffers, plus other donations from supportive residents. Further crucial help came from Bryan Banfield, retired farmer, who offered his barn as a ‘Shed’ to store equipment and as space to work inside when needed. Bryan also became one of the mainstays of the volunteer workforce with his valuable experience gained on the farm.
Word of the new Shed spread with the help of the Keevil Parish News and before long a couple of dozen residents had signed up for active duty. Equipment was purchased and Monday morning became the regular slot for strimming the banks, clearing drains, painting railings, litter picking and lots of other jobs. One rule needed to be made clear, however. The work of the Shed was clearly to maintain the communal parts of the village and not “Garden SOS” !