It was the end of an era for Alpheton as Julie Rix, parish clerk for the past 39 years, retired at the council’s April meeting.
Memories were shared as councillors, both past and present, paid tribute and bid farewell to Julie.
She was appointed in 1979 on a salary of £25 a year, and has worked with six chairmen and 25 councillors.
Three – Graham Maskell, Trevor Rix and Richard Kemp, who all joined the parish council in the 1970s – are still members.
“Truda Simpson was the clerk before me, and she wanted to hand it on, and she just asked me. I’d not long moved to Alpheton,” said Julie.
“She said it was a doddle, so I said ‘yes’. She came up with a small cardboard box with a few bits and pieces in and left me to it.
“I was lucky enough to have Bunny Morris as my first chairman. It was great because he was very knowledgeable and had been doing it for a while, and I learnt it as I went along.”
Bunny Morris was succeeded by Eunice Scorgie, then Charles Pearce, Edwin Taylor and Alan Ariss.
Current chairman Ken Watkins and councillors Madeline Gray, Bridget Sumner and Richard Barraclough all joined in the last ten years.
Julie describes her time as clerk as “fairly trouble free”, stating common sense has generally prevailed.
The main change she has noticed in 39 years is “more red tape and much more paperwork” – but she added: “You still have a duty to consider everything, and that’s the difficult bit, working out what’s right for your village.
“I think the village has changed since I became clerk. Perhaps that’s what villages do. They ebb and flow, and you can’t expect everyone to join in everything. But it’s a nice village, everyone is supportive of each other. It’s a good community.”
Julie and husband Peter have always been involved in village life. She said: “We were on the village hall committee for 30 years between us. Peter was chairman and I was secretary.
“I had the children – Katie and Chris – when I was parish clerk, and was a local authority appointed school governor at Shimpling, and then Lawshall. The nice thing is Katie is following on. She’s a councillor at Shimpling, and a governor at Lawshall.”
The new clerk and Responsible Finance Officer is Nicola Smith, who is a parish councillor in Lavenham.
She is also parish clerk in Bradfield St Clare and Preston St Mary, and is the RFO in Monks Eleigh.