Wiltshire Publications

Village says farewell to inspirational couple

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018 at 9:46 am.

CHAPMANSLADE said a fond farewell to village stalwarts, Dennis and Gwen Barnard, who have moved to Frome after 83 years living in the village, devoting their time to many community projects along the way.

Dennis Barnard is known around the village for his 42 years on the parish council and 22 years of running the very successful village shop and post office – which his wife Gwen has also helped run for the past 12 years.

In 1970 Dennis and Gwen, along with many local families, including the Radleys, Browns, Rayners, Clatworthys, Daniels, Drews, Marshes and Weguelins all decided to raise money for a new hall to replace the ‘old hut’. Over four years they helped to run a hot dog stall on the A36 at weekends and bank holidays, organised dances, sponsored walks, raffles and even ‘win a man for the day’ to raise the funds needed.

The new hall, opened in 1974, cost £22,000, of which the villagers had raised £7,000. Their efforts were even reported by Kate Adie when as a young reporter she came to Chapmanslade to make a radio programme for BBC Bristol. She was so impressed that she came back to the village, staying overnight with Dennis and Gwen, so she could join an inauguration party in the village hall and conducting the ceremonial ‘First Flush’.

Dennis has helped to raise many thousands of pounds over the years at various functions with his alter-ego Clem Pullet comedy sketches and his auctioneering skills honed at Cooper and Tanner.

To say farewell to the couple, Chapmanslade held a gathering on the Memorial Field on Sunday 20th May, where over 120 people came to thank them both for their contributions to the village.

Chris Page, long-time village resident and current President of Frome Rotary Club, led the thanks, giving a humorous tribute to Gwen and Dennis. Dennis replied with a very moving speech thanking all those who were able to attend and expressing his confidence that the village will continue to go from strength to strength – even without him.

Denise Page said, “Luckily Dennis and Gwen have only moved three miles up the road to Frome where they are stalwarts of the Rotary Club, so we will surely still see them at many more village events. Dennis has always lived by the motto of his favourite song ‘If I Can Help Somebody’. I think he has truly lived up to this, as many residents of Chapmanslade can testify.”

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