Preston was then administered by a ‘Parish Meeting’ which was the lowest form of
municipal control – only a few of which existed. It consisted of two elected persons
– the chairman and the clerk. I attended my first meeting which was chaired by Derrick
Seebohm, a well-respected local dignatory. The first item on the agenda was to appoint
a new clerk. Out of the blue, I was elected!
The next item for discussion was the ‘Best Kept Village’ competition (small class).
Preston had entered the competition in previous years without success and the general
feeling was that the village should not be entered again. I made a plea which outlined
the benefits of taking part - the resulting improvement in the appearance of our
village and the integration of the community and the improved spirit it would produce.
This argument won the day; but only on the basis that the chairman and I organised
and planned the operation and carried out the necessary tasks with local volunteers.
Our entry for the competition went ahead.
The Head Mistress of Princess Helena College generously co-operated by making her
girls responsible for the removal of all the debris and litter – they made a fine
contribution. Many other volunteers came forward and with machinery borrowed from
the local farmer we trimmed all the hedges and cleaned the ditches and hedgerows
with an Allen cutter. Villagers could be seen working hard every evening until dusk.
St Martins church was adjacent to the building plots and on the other side of the
road was the petrol station owned by Hugh. We quickly settled for the third plot
beyond the church for a total sum of £3,500 and named the house ‘The Hollies’ (shown
right) – which is a commonly used truncation of our name. The first house from St
Martins was occupied by the Vaughans and the second by the Horricks. The three of
us worked for the English Electric Company. We were initially based at the Luton
site before moving to Stevenage. The company was later known as British Aerospace.
The award ceremony at Preston Green – second from the left is the Hon. David Bowes
Lyon, then Harry Hollingsworth and Mr Bennett. Alma Hollingsworth is in the foreground.
The Hon. David Bowes Lyon unveiling the award of the ‘Best Kept Village’ shield.
Above, the Hon. David Bowes Lyon addressing the villagers.
Above, Harry Hollingsworth’s address of thanks.
When I was in my early thirties, my wife Alma and I discovered some new houses being
built at Preston by Dennis Waller. We fell in love with the site and the area (writes
(I am grateful to Harry Hollingsworth for permission to feature his photographs and
Preston had a thriving Horticultural Society and their members organised improvements
in the village’s gardens, supplied flowering shrubs and gave advice. Derrick Seebohm
(shown right) was a “hands-on” man and an enthusiastic worker and was able to get
the best out of people. Together we planted a number of trees.
A great amount of funding was unnecessary, but I organised a fair over a weekend
which enjoyed beautiful weather and was a complete success – raising £100. This also
had the effect of raising the spirits of the villagers and more friendships were
made. My wife and I became lifelong friends with the local schoolmaster, Fred Orchard
and his wife Joan.
That year, Preston won the cherished ‘Best Kept Village’ competition – and won it
again the following year! We held the awards ceremony on the Green. We were honoured
as the presentation was made by the Hon. David Bowes Lyon.
In 1959, my career took us northwards and Alma and I were both sad to say good-bye
to Preston. (Footnote: Alma Hollingsworth passed away in 2004. Harry Hollingsworth
is now 86 years old. Fred Orchard died in 1992. His widow, Joan now lives at Seaford,