Hi, I’m Jane Evans, a retired nurse, amateur artist, grandmother to 3 little ones and a relative newcomer to Kempley. When I first qualified as a nurse, I worked in a cardiac surgery intensive care unit. A little later I opted for a change of career and trained as a secretary.
Married and 2 children later, I went back into nursing and for 5 years was Matron of a small nursing home.
Then another career change. I trained as a picture framer and opened a small art gallery and framing workshop. To compliment this I added a tea room.
Never afraid of change, and now free of responsibilities, my husband and I sold up in 2013 and went off around the country on a narrowboat for a couple of years. When we decided to go back to dry land, finding the house we wanted was hard and so we decided to build our own.
Michael and I first came to Kempley in July 2016 to look at a building plot. We knew nothing about the village, but hey-presto we bought the land.
We moved into a site caravan on the plot in April 2017, and started to realise our luck almost immediately. Neighbours brought us heaters, as the weather was particularly cold, we were invited out for drinks and meals and very soon started to make friends.
We decided that if we were to get to know what was going on in the village we would try and go to all the functions that were happening. Little did we realise what a busy village Kempley is.
One of the first things we went to was KPM. We were greeted at the door, and given a warm welcome. I’ve missed very few markets since that first one.
I always said I would get involved in the market once our new house was build and we were settled in, but as I write this in 2019, I’ve allowed myself to get ‘sucked in’ sooner than I anticipated. The house will be finished ….. sometime ..… maybe this year!
Just a few months ago, I visited the Kempley Produce Market to “get a feel” for the community in which we were about to buy our new home. We were looking for a village location, with a lively community – this first visit told us we were definitely doing the right thing. We found a buzzing, vibrant village hall full of delicious local produce and friendly people.
I retired from teaching a few years ago to run a successful business with my husband. We have now fully retired and hope to spend much of our time “pottering about” in our 4.6 acres of rural Gloucestershire, where we will certainly enjoy entertaining friends and family. Our large garden is also home to Bingo, our rescue terrier, who simply can’t believe we have given him such a big play area all to himself!
After only a few weeks in Kempley, I was approached by Maggie who thought I may be interested in joining the group of Marketeers. So I am very new to the group, and not sure what my role will turn out to be. I am hoping that, in addition to helping to run and promote a vibrant and thriving Produce Market, this will be an opportunity to meet my new neighbours in the village, and also the many visitors from the surrounding area.
As an outsider in the neighbouring village across the border in Herefordshire, I first noticed there might be something interesting going on just a cycle ride away when I saw regular inviting signs at the end of our lane. So we checked out Kempley Produce Market, and found old contact Maggie Bligh in charge. Fantastic welcome from her and the team. It was impossible to be a newcomer and be ignored, and on repeated visits I noticed this again and again with all visitors given a cheery hello. A genuine community spirit.
Retirement date all fixed for April 2010. Looking forward to no more early starts in an attempt to miss the traffic on the daily slog into Gloucester; or making sure that wellies and cold weather kit were in the car boot for those dark winter journeys. Over 35 years in my chosen career, working 9 to 5 and just having holidays and weekends off, how was I going to spend my time? All my friends told me that retirement is the time to do what you want to do and when you want to do it.
A long list of interests and hobbies to catch up on, how did I find the time to go to work? Having two very active and mischievous dogs that loved to dig holes in the garden and pull up any plants, ensured that gardening was definitely not on the list. Besides which there are those squiggly pink things called worms and creepy crawlies that lurk about, you guessed it, just squeamish!
I was approached quite soon after I retired by Maggie Bligh, our brilliant and inspirational Chairperson, asking if I would like to join the team of Kempley Produce Market. I read all the constitution, the aims and ethos of the market (I used to read all the small print on various paperwork and forms in my previous life so this was a piece of cake). Well having liked what I read I jumped on board.
I look after the “Café” side of the market. My cake making has definitely improved since taking on this role – they turn out much better when I make them in a rush than when I take my time over them! The biggest challenge to date was making of over 120 scones for our 4th Birthday back in July 2013. They were all eaten so I must have done a good job, I couldn’t face a scone for months after!
I love being involved in the market and enjoy it enormously, whether it is selling produce, serving in the café, meeting and chatting with people ( a lot of that due to the Welsh in me), in fact anything that is needed I will do. All the marketeers work hard every month to make the market vibrant and fresh, and an event that people enjoy attending. I feel privileged to belong to the team of people that makes Kempley Produce Market the success it is.
Kempley has a wonderful sense of community which has not dwindled in the 30+ years that I have lived here. Village life is alive and well and happening in Kempley, and the Produce Market enhances and enriches life in this glorious part of Gloucestershire.
I am the latest recruit to the Kempley Marketeers, having joined them in September 2014. I have lived, with my husband in the village for twenty-two years and have attended the Kempley Produce Market since its inception and watched it grow to the very popular event that it is today.
Before becoming part of the Market I only knew very few people in the village as I worked alone making bespoke clothes for people from far and wide and as our village lacked a central meeting point, the opportunity for meeting other villagers did not arise. Having now retired, I have the time to become involved in the community, in between babysitting my gorgeous grandchildren, gardening, singing in a local choir and generally enjoying myself. Being asked to join the Market committee has enriched my life and it has been lovely to meet and get to know our producers, volunteers and customers, many of whom come from quite far afield to see us, but best of all has been getting to know my fellow Marketeers, who are all very dedicated and great fun, who make holding the local market a very enjoyable occasion.
Fine food has become a particular interest of mine since within my family; we have a delicatessen and completely separately, not one but two Head Chefs. I live in a world surrounded by lovely things to eat, our Market providing even more temptation.
It was soon recognised by the Marketeers that my particular forte was to make packets of dried fruits, granola and bottles of oil look pretty on a stand, along with my penchant for making labels. I have now branched out, to be our amateur Market Photographer, which is very satisfying, apart from trying to get my fellow, bashful, Marketeers to stay still long enough to have a photo taken. Since December 2014, I have undertaken the post of Treasurer, a post that has caused me one or two headaches, but I am enjoying very much.
My latest foray into new areas, along with Louise, who is completely focussed and dragging me along in her wake, is building our Market website. We both have a liking for Word and Excel and finding out how to make things work on a computer. We are finding this, not unsurprisingly, a lot of fun. The only downside being the need to write a profile page for myself.
I feel very privileged to belong to a group of people who are enormously enthusiastic about the Market and are willing to make a lot of effort to make it as vibrant and friendly as it is. We are constantly looking for new ideas to keep the market fresh, and we are also constantly surprised by the amount of bacon butties it is possible to sell in a very short space of time. I feel proud that people like our market well enough to keep coming back month after month and bringing a very widely spread community together to meet and socialise.
Retirement spent gardening was certainly not for me. The chance to be involved in setting up a produce market in our village was a challenge I couldn’t miss. Perhaps the clincher was the single-mindedness and determination of Maggie Bligh, whose clear vision for the market made the enterprise both worthwhile and very enjoyable. For a village that had lost its shop, garage and post office in the time I have lived here, the need for a regular social get together seemed a project worth spending some energy on. Whilst all the Marketeers multi-task, my specific role is secretary.
We bought our own dehydrator to enable us to dry any surplus produce which invariably occurs during the summer months. Originally my job was to oversee the collective effort, this is now shared with Maggie who has access to electricity via solar pv panels. So far we have dried apples, pears, strawberries and raspberries, all of which we package and sell at the market. The dried fruit is also used to make our very own Granola, an increasingly popular product made to Pauline’s recipe (unfortunately Pauline has now left the village – but her granola lives on). We have added Daffodil Confetti to our products, another good idea of Maggie Bligh’s and a great success with weddings and celebrations.
I have a low boredom threshold and constantly need to be learning new things. I have learnt how to manage a database and send out the market’s monthly newsletter, and, with the help of Jenny Jones from Hillbrooks Luxury Ice Cream, set up a Facebook page for the market. Creating a website was the next thing on the list of things to do, and seemed like a good idea at the time. There’s a lot more to it than I realised. However, with fellow marketeer Geraldine and help from my long suffering nephew, we are got there in the end. Lately the website has been revamped thanks to tech savvy Arin Spencer, newly arrived in the village with her husband and young family. We have taken Social Media by the horns – and now have a Twitter account, managed by our newest member, Jane Evans and I am getting to grips with Instagram. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks…
You know what it’s like – you think ‘wouldn’t it be a good idea if ….’, and ‘somebody should do something about ….’.
Attending an inspirational Transition meeting where we were all asked to do that dreadful ‘getting in a huddle with others’ thing and say what you intend to do to improve your community etc. it dawned on me that I could be the someone who does something. Fortunately there were several people in the village who had the same idea and so off we went.
The good idea was to provide an informal but regular opportunity for people to get together. Being very spread out, with only the Village Hall and church as resources, the village had ‘form’ in coming together once a year to put on Daffodil Weekend hospitality and then everyone went their own way again. How to build on that?
A café seemed the logical starting point, but we also decided to put on a food market. We had a head start with our very own ice cream producer, Hillbrooks, and a honey man in the village. This was to be a produce market, mainly food, but also plants, celebrating local and seasonal produce. Fair Trade goods in the Café also augmented the ethos of fairness at home and further afield.
Six years later it would not be exaggerating to say that the village has changed. People know their neighbours better whether through coming to the market as a customer, or through volunteering to help at the market. We also have a much wider community with people from neighbouring villages coming regularly to shop and catch up with friends over a cup of coffee.
There are SO many things I love about the market, not least having got to know my fellow marketeers in a much better way than just as neighbours. I’m constantly amazed at the breadth of skills, talent and experience within the team.
The result of our efforts is a vibrant, friendly and supportive market which people recognise and love to come to. The market has also taken us all into territories we would never otherwise have experienced. I have always steered clear of anything involving committees and meetings, but ours are like no other – not just in the topics discussed, which have been diverse and extraordinary, but in the collaborative nature of the team.
I love the challenge of trying to keep the market fresh and fun to come to – as if the produce wasn’t enough. I love the opportunity that the market has given producers and marketeers to try new things and to network. The range of produce available is truly extraordinary.
I believe we have become a more resilient and self supporting community as a result of the market. And I LOVE the fact that we are able to help other communities in the 3rd world to become more resilient too through our charitable donations.
The only thing holding us back is the size of the Hall.