09:00AM, Thursday 28 October 2021
Burnham is a village brimming with history, activity and well-loved groups, organisations, and amenities.
The historic South Bucks community, which is featured in the Domesday Book of 1086, also boasts a popular High Street with an array of pubs, restaurants, shops and Burnham Market, which takes place every Wednesday.
Community facility Burnham Park Hall features alongside a range of other amenities such as places of worship, including St Peter’s Church, parks and playgrounds and the scenic Burnham Beeches.
Alongside Burnham Parish Council, a range of organisations, charities and community groups are also active in the village.
They include Burnham Health Promotion Trust (BHPT), Burnham Community Association (BCA), Keeping Burnham Litter Free, Burnham Lion’s Club, St Peter’s Church, Burnham Resilience CIO, the Rotary Club of Burnham Beeches and Burnham Village Twinning Association (BVTA).
In 2019, Burnham received the prestigious Pushman Cup after winning Buckinghamshire’s Best Kept Village competition that year.
Through the course of the year, the village is a hub of entertainment, featuring popular events including the Burnham Donkey Derby, Burnham Village Fete, and Burnham Lions Christmas Fayre. A new fireworks night event will take place on Friday, November 5.
Rich in history, Burnham was formerly home to 1st Baron Lord William Wyndham Grenville, who was the UK Prime Minister from 1806 to 1807 and was responsible for the abolition of the slave trade.
During his life, he resided at Dropmore House and he is buried at St Peter’s Church.
A memorial bench dedicated to him and his work was installed outside Burnham Park Hall in October 2020 by Burnham Parish Council.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the community rallied to support those in need. In recognition, Beaconsfield and Burnham MP Joy Morrissey presented ‘hero’ and ‘thank you’ awards to those who had gone above and beyond.
Meanwhile, Burnham Resilience CIO, a charity set up to support the community during COVID-19, presented awards to 17 businesses, including restaurant Artigiani Del Cibo – which provided free meals to Wexham Park Hospital – as part of its Burnham Business Awards.
Throughout the years and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, the community has been focusing on tackling a number of important issues including speeding, climate change and the environment, anti-social behaviour, food poverty, protecting the greenbelt, fly-tipping, helping those in need, loneliness, mental health, grief and bridging the intergenerational gap.
I've taken a look at some of the groups and organisations that have made an important impact on the community, and gained an insight into how social media has played a key role in the village, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
St Peter's Church
From left to right: Rev Janet Minkkinen, Peter Lewis, Samson Kuponiyi and Pam Rogers. Photo by Ian Longthorne.
At St Peter’s Church, vicar Rev Janet Minkkinen and the church team, including curate Samson Kuponiyi and churchwardens Pam Rogers and Peter Lewis, strive to fulfil the church’s main roles.
These include going out into the community and providing support as well as being a place of worship for parishioners.
A part of this, the church has been tackling a host of important issues through its work, including inclusivity, climate change, improving recognition of notable figures, and helping people in need.
It became an inclusive church in September, and is working towards achieving its Eco Church Silver award.
It is also supporting year six pupils at St Peter’s CofE Primary School with their project to create an art piece to sit atop Lord Grenville’s grave site – a project which MP Joy Morrissey has also shown her support for.
The church, which is also involved in Burnham Care & Share, provided support during the COVID-19 pandemic by checking on parishioners, calling them and sending out cards.
Rev Janet Minkkinen said she feels the church is important to the community.
She added: “As a church we’ve got to think about others. We’ve got to share what we’ve got.”
Burnham Resilience CIO
From left to right: Adam Prince, chairman and trustee, their daughter Anastacia Prince and Paula Prince, vice chair and trustee. Photo by Ian Longthorne.
Burnham Resilience Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), was originally set up as a Facebook group under the name Burnham Resilience Group (BRG) at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to provide help and support to the community.
The group, which officially became a charity in July last year, has supported the community in many ways including shopping, providing telephone support and food parcels, and collecting and delivering prescriptions.
Focused on tackling issues including loneliness, grief and mental health, the charity also initiated a number of projects, including mental health support for schools by providing five schools with one year’s unlimited access to the Lily-Jo Project’s mental health resources.
Paula Prince, trustee and vice chair of Burnham Resilience said: “The whole idea was to build resilience, and I think we helped do that.”
Burnham Parish Council
Burnham Parish councillors. Photo by Jade Kidd.
Supporting the community and working with residents and organisations to deliver activities that will improve quality of life are some of the main roles of Burnham Parish Council.
Through its projects, both previous and current, the parish council has tackled important issues including the environment and climate change, speeding, litter, anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and fly-tipping.
These include transforming the area encompassing Footpath 57, which was known for criminal activity, and running a community speedwatch scheme. It is hoped the scheme will be re-launched in 2022, after it was suspended due to COVID-19.
Other projects have seen the parish council declare a climate emergency and form the Burnham Community Through School working group, which aims to help establish support for a community school at the site of the former Burnham Park Academy.
Work is also being done to help businesses and revitalise the High Street, coming out of the pandemic.
Cllr Marie Hammon said: “We are here to support the community [in] every way that we can.”
Keeping Burnham Litter Free
Group founder Jane Chandler litter picking. Photo by Ian Longthorne.
A group in Burnham is tackling litter in the village and the surrounding areas through the use of social media.
Keeping Burnham Litter Free is a Facebook group which was started in April by Burnham resident Jane Chandler after she noticed a ‘huge’ amount of litter while on a dog walk and started to pick it up and wanted to see if anyone else was doing it.
The group, which has more than 160 members, has not been able to meet up due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but individuals carry out litter picks then post about their efforts, or point out particular problem areas.
The group’s aim is to make the environment – and the place in which they live – better for everyone.
Group members have picked up a host of items during their litter picks, including plastic bottles, bottles of alcohol, nitrous oxide cannisters and pub glasses.
Jane said: “The litter is just increasing, it's just a nightmare.
“I don’t think people realise how long the litter lasts.”
She added: “I think every little bit helps so even if people pick up a little bit of litter as they are walking around, everything makes a difference.”
The Facebook group can be viewed at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/480633439962031/
Joy Morrissey, MP for Beaconsfield
Joy Morrissey MP at the unveiling of the Lord William Grenville memorial bench last year. Photo by Ian Longthorne.
In 2019, Joy Morrissey was elected to represent the Beaconsfield constituency, which includes Burnham.
The Conservative MP says her main role is to serve the local community, be their ‘champion’, tackle important issues and represent and support both constituents and local community events.
Since being elected, Mrs Morrissey has been working on a number of issues, including tackling concerns raised by patients about Burnham Health Centre, fly-tipping and potholes, school places, and protecting the greenbelt and championing greater levels of mental health support for young people in school.
Mrs Morrissey would also like to highlight Lord Grenville and his work in Parliament.
She added that during the COVID-19 pandemic, she tried to get as many grants as possible for businesses in the area.
Mrs Morrissey said: “I just want to listen to residents and try to represent their views and protect the things that they love.”
Burnham Health Promotion Trust (BHPT)
The Care & Share team. From left to right: Ollie Pope, Lisa Pope, Igan Hayati, Rev Samson Kuponiyi. Photo by Ian Longthorne.
For more than 20 years, Burnham Health Promotion Trust (BHPT) has been dedicated to supporting Burnham.
The trust tackles many important issues through its work and projects, including mental health, loneliness and isolation, supporting those in need, helping people keep active and social, and working towards more intergenerational integration.
Described as a ‘shining star’ in the BHPT crown, Care & Share is a major project which supports individuals and families in need with a focus on providing food.
It is a collaboration between BHPT, St Peter’s Church, The Rotary Club of Burnham Beeches, Maidenhead Foodshare and May’s Chocolate House – from which it currently operates.
The scheme provides people with food and supports them with any further help they may need.
Lisa Pope, trust administrator and project worker, said: “We realised there was a need, people were going hungry.
“It’s about making sure that people know where they can turn to for help and support.”
Care & Share is looking for new premises in or around Burnham, preferably near the High Street. Email: email@example.com.
How social media brought people together during the COVID-19 lockdowns
Social media has played a key role in the Burnham community in recent years, and was used extensively during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide help.
The Burnham Village Facebook Group has 13,000 members and the Burnham Village Residents Page stands at 5,600.
Both groups are used to raise community issues, seek advice and announce events. They have also played a key role in positive community acts.
This year, village resident Ian Dodimead cut back an overgrown footpath in Burnham after seeing a post about it on the Burnham Village Facebook group and father and son Steve Keating and Matt Keating have also cleared fly-tipping in the area at their own expense after seeing Facebook posts on the Burnham groups.
Facebook groups set up during lockdown have also played a key role in helping people stay connected.
Beth Booker founded the Burnham Lockdown Babies Facebook group – which now has more than 340 members – in August 2020.
It has supported parents and children during the lockdowns.
Beth said: “The group has grown into a space for people to look for someone to go for a walk or coffee with, a place for people to find out what local baby or toddler groups are on and when, and a place for recommendations of businesses or venues people have been to and enjoyed with their preschool-aged children.”
The Burnham Resilience Facebook group, now has more than 980 members.
Paula Prince, trustee and vice-chair, said: “We wanted it to focus on what the residents could do for each other and what was out there to support them.”
She added that having the group meant that they could let people in the community know how to get support and where from and enabled small businesses in the local area to advertise.
Paula explained that the group has been used in a variety of ways, including to inform people about the help and support available, posting quizzes to keep people entertained, and providing updates on what is going in on the village, including vaccination clinics and general neighbourhood news.
She added: “It was good to provide a platform to help the residents.”