Darren Maude

Almost everyone I know volunteers for something

“I grew up in Burnham, then moved to London when I met my wife Jessica and had our first two kids. We were in a tiny two up two down with barely any garden. It’s the classic ‘circle of life’ thing that many people go through – growing up in the countryside, moving away, spending time in a city, settling down, and moving back out to the countryside to bring up children.

We put a pin in the map around jobs for me. I was working at RAF Northolt at the time, but other places I might work in the future included High Wycombe and Benson. We thought we wanted to move to Thame at first but then we stumbled on Watlington. We walked up the High Street and liked it.

As a kid I didn’t recognise much about ‘community’. Perhaps it was just that I didn’t notice it, but having three children in a little village just massively highlights the sense of community here. I think it is something to do with the volunteers. Almost everyone I know volunteers for something here. You step up because if you want something to happen, you have to. It’s something to do with Watlington’s magic size. In larger places perhaps it would be easier to leave volunteering to someone else.

On Fridays I help coach the under 14s football team. We don’t play in a league and there’s no pressure, just a bunch of boys that come along for a kick about and a laugh with their mates. The wonderful thing has been the acceptance of the ones that have only just started playing. The more experienced players have taken the responsibility to train up the new ones off their own bat. No one complains if someone mis-kicks a ball and it is just fantastic – long may it continue.

The thing I am super proud of is the High Street. We have such an amazing chocolatier, butchers, library, and other shops. It really is outstanding. Of course, there are some things which would be nice – a 3G pitch, or a swimming pool, for example, but I suppose you can’t have everything!

I also love the countryside and one of my favourite things is a walk in the Chilterns and coming home for a roast dinner. That is the perfect day for me.

We go to London as often as we can – exploring different areas, or going to see a band, or for a night out. Watlington is such a good location –  the perfect balance of living in the countryside in a nice size community with good quality of life but also on the doorstep of London with everything it has to offer.”

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