WHEN Midhurst town clerk Joan Hursthouse retired she left behind her a town which had undergone a sea change in the 17 years since she arrived.
Last night (Thursday, July 9) town councillors past and present and many people Joan had worked with held a retirement party for her.
I have worked with some lovely, supportive councillors and some real characters which have made it a pleasure to work in the town
“We still had the old grammar school, the doctors surgery was in Lamberts Lane, Rosemary’s Parlour was Chichester District Council flats, the old Grange was the community centre and Budgens had only just opened,” recalled Joan.
“During my time we have seen the building of the new school, the new Grange and the establishment of the South Downs National Park in Midhurst.
“There were mixed reactions when we built a skate park, but it is now very popular and we also have state-or-the-art recreation equipment.”
She was proud of being part of the town’s campaigns to keep the new school in Midhurst and save day care facilities once the county council axed the Grange Day Care Centre.
Other high points included the organisation of the town council’s two Royal Jubilee street parties and the consecration of the cemetery extension.
Joan’s low point she said was “the closure of Midhurst Grammar School which had 400 years of tradition and service to the town and two of my children received excellent educations there.”
“I have had 17 very happy years, but the council is going in a new direction now and its appropriate somebody with fresh ideas is taking over. I have worked with some lovely, supportive councillors and some real characters which have made it a pleasure to work in the town.”
She said the community spirit had always impressed her. “There are so many things provided by people giving up so much time voluntarily.”
She paid tribute to Margaret Bentall, who supported her with a wealth of experience, former assistant clerk Natasha Young who brought new skill sets to the office and to groundsman Chris Savill who took so much pride in looking after the town.
Joan’s two chairman Colin Hughes and John Etherington paid tribute to her hard work and support at a retirement gathering in the old library - another of the town council’s achievements.
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