Community events are always worth a mention in this column and there is a particularly good one coming up this weekend in the form of the Weybridge Thameside Festival, which takes place on Saturday.
“The River Thames is one of Spelthorne borough’s greatest assets – and we simply don’t make enough of that fact.” Those were the words of former major and borough councillor Judith Wood-Dow of Staines as she prepared to board the traditional shallop, Jubilant, at the Thames Lodge hotel a couple of weeks back.
While a lot of attention is being focused on the Surrey Police initiative called Project Kraken – designed primarily to encourage a kind of neighbourhood watch on the river to spot possible terrorist activity – many local residents are still unhappy with the lack of a permanent dedicated officer on our stretch of the Thames.
Last year in this column, I wrote that I thought the authorities should introduce a mandatory test and a licence of competence before anyone was allowed to take a boat out on the water – and several people jumped down my throat, berating me for proposing to introduce more bureaucracy into our leisure time.
Patricia Eustace’s life has been very closely tied to the River Thames. This charming 86-year-old has spent all her life living beside the river – 60 years in a lovely house overlooking Shepperton Lock – and she was one of several readers who responded to my invitation to share their memories of learning to swim in the Thames.