The Winter of 1983 was wet. If you had to go to the surgery on the green (or any place between School Lane and the village hall) – other than by car – you had to walk along the narrow path on the East side of Stane Street. A hazardous walk for both old and young and particularly parents with youngsters in pushchairs – within inches of ever bigger and faster vehicles. A safe footpath on the green was clearly needed and had apparently been talked about for many years – it was time to do something. The concept was put on the agenda of the Parish Council Annual Assembly on 19th March, 1984 and discussed at length.
With nobody against the idea, fund raising suggestions were made. Imagine how many coffee mornings and jumble sales it would have taken to provide the funds needed…and time would slip by risking the loss of motivation. After a call at the meeting for a minimum of 6 volunteers to form a team and commit to seeing the project through to completion, eight hands went up. The Ockley Footpath Action Committee was born.
James Berry-Clarke, Andrew Crighton, Jim Figg, Paul Fisher, Bill Maguire, Dick Thomas (Secretary), David Moir (Treasurer) David Waugh (Chairman) and Parish Council member. It was a volunteer ad hoc committee acting for and with the authority of the Parish Council.
The first meeting of the OCFAC was held on the 2nd April,1984. The bold decision was taken to seek interest free loans and also ask for donations – to get the job done quickly before the Winter - and then fund raise to repay the loans. Motivation enough. During the Summer detailed planning and action involving finance, quotes, materials, equipment and manpower was linked to two more committee meetings on the 18th April and the 21st August. The cost was estimated at £4000.
The call went out by letter to all villagers asking for interest free loans with a promise to pay back within 18 months. This raised £2520. Donations provided another £1800. A grant of £200 was given by the Rural Amenities fund of the Surrey Voluntary Services Council. The concept had become a reality.
The path was marked out by mower on the 25th August. The following Saturday, 1st September 1984, the path was constructed with volunteer village labour including John Day on the loader and Robert Charman on the digger from Jayes estate. On the 9th September the tarmac surface was laid by professionals. Stage one was completed - five months from the OCFAC’s inception.
Now the focus was on stage two - pay back of the loans. Spontaneous community activities got into action to raise funds including a ‘man made coffee morning’ (the OCFAC committee) in the village hall on the 16th March 1985 with fund raising stalls from many villagers; a car boot sale and a sponsored children’s walk around the green (Stoolball Club)– using the new footpath.
And then the big one - the first Ocklympics and Fayre on the green on the 22nd June 1985 (with teams from 7 other villages to boost the attendance and 27 stalls and activities!). That evening there was a barbecue and dance in Jayes courtyard. All these efforts produced many community benefits, but two in particular. The first was that sufficient funds were raised to pay back the footpath loans six months earlier than the self-imposed deadline of 18 months (and also make a substantial contribution to new village hall heaters). And the second was that the Ockley Society volunteer committee was formed with the aim of ‘encouraging, developing and supporting community life and spirit’.
The icing on the cake came on the 11th August 1986. The footpath project was awarded first prize by the Surrey Voluntary Services Council for the period 1984-1986 out of a field of 32 village initiative projects. A certificate and a cheque for £250 towards footpath maintenance were presented on the 16th October 1986. The daffodils you can see on the green each Spring were planted in the Autumn of 1984 to celebrate the building of the path.