A VILLAGE with facilities of which Mary Berry would be proud and a strong bond with a former RAF station – welcome to Tangmere.
Located east of Chichester, Tangmere is famed for being the former home of an RAF station that played a key role in the Battle of Britain.
However, visitors will soon realise there is a lot more going on beneath the surface.
Unveiled in February, 2010, the village’s community garden allows people to grow their own crops and has just finished its fourth harvest.
“I’d been walking around the village, thinking wouldn’t it be great if there was some land here where there’s a community garden,” said cookery writer, chef and 30-year resident of Tangmere, Rosemary Moon.
“It’s really been a nice way of mixing up people of all different backgrounds within the village.”
The garden invites everyone to get involved, growing fruit and vegetables and looking after pigs and chickens.
Rosemary is a good friend of Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry and the pair were recently at West Dean’s Grow! Cook! Eat! event.
They have since discussed the community garden.
“She said: ‘I want to know to know more about your community garden – it sounds fantastic’,” said Rosemary of a recent conversation with Mary.
Bonds and friendships have been formed among members of the group – which encompasses people from all walks of life.
Rosemary described the garden as ‘a chance to get out into the village and look and see what’s going on’.
The garden leases land from the parish council, which has also supported the planting of a community orchard.
Council chairman Andrew Irwin said: “Tangmere is a special place because of its unique wartime history and the speed of growth for the village since 1972.
“The village has the largest proportion of young residents of any community in West Sussex, a function of the fast growth we have seen.
“These younger residents add a vibrancy to the village, and contribute in many ways to the varied activities that take place in Tangmere.”
Council vice-chairman Brian Wood is chairman of the Tangmere Action Group (TAG), which is involved in everything from litter-picking and village maintenance to expanding youth facilities in the village – a new youth council is set to be introduced.
He is also chairman of the Neighbourhood Management Panel (NMP), which works with community wardens and PCSOs in many areas, including reducing speed and looking after the elderly.
“I feel the results we have achieved so far have been totally down to commitment provided by our residents,” said Brian.
TAG also supported the village’s medical centre when it was threatened with potential closure earlier this year. After opening in 2009, the centre has proved an invaluable facility and is supported by the Friends of Tangmere Medical Centre.
Joy Frost, the wife of Friends founder John, who has since passed away, has described it as the ‘heart of the village’.
The group actively campaigned to save the centre after it was threatened earlier this year.
It would be incomplete to talk about Tangmere without mentioning the aviation museum.
“The reason we’re here is to preserve the memory of the many young men and women who lived, fought and sadly in many cases died here in defence of the country,” said director Dudley Hooley.
He has lived on many RAF bases and said it was unusual to find such a ‘strong bond’ between a village and its base.
“I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else I’ve been.”
The bond was so strong that when the base was closed, villagers contributed to a monument in the centre of the village in its memory.
Whether it’s the Tangmere Players, the 2nd Tangmere Scouts, Tangmere Flower Club, Tangmere Cricket Club, the 12th-century Grade I listed St Andrew’s Church or community wardens Gareth Jones and Dawn White, everywhere you look is a hive of activity.
All of this and more helps make Tangmere a place that looks to the future, while celebrating its past.