Local Face: Christopher Lake

As the 1960’s came to a close, Christopher Lake came to a turning point in his life and started to look for somewhere which would fulfill his living requirements which included easy access to walking in the Chiltern Hills and travelling from a British Rail Station. By 1970 he had moved to Wendover and has never been disappointed with his choice.

Curiously, both these requirements came to bear very strongly on his life-style. A series of coincidences led to his meeting with his near neighbour, a spry 81-year old Mr Staddon, who was looking for a mature “apprentice” to help maintain footpaths. Christopher agreed and by 1971 had become the National Trust Volunteer Warden of Coombe Hill, a post he holds to this day. This grandiose title allows Christopher to pick up litter and wield the pruning shears when undergrowth starts to invade the footpaths. We must all be grateful that Christopher is undaunted by the growing habits of brambles and other vigorous native flora as he cut new paths at the top. He has also recruited his own “apprentice”, Colin Cresswell, to help in this ongoing task.

This involvement with footpaths has multiplied over the years. In 1993, Christopher was co-opted onto the Wendover Parish Council Footpath Committee and now looks after all the paths in the South West of the Parish towards Dunsmore and Cobblers Hill. Christopher is the person who walks the footpaths, clearing them of brambles and other obstructions, and waymarking. He paints arrows on trees and hammers them into posts. Bridleways are marked in blue, footpaths in yellow (footpaths looked after by the Chiltern Society are marked in white).

Christopher looks after the footpaths in Hampden Parish for the Chiltern Society.

In 1994, Bucks County Council asked Christopher to survey all the footpaths in Kimble Parish. Thjs involves a separate form for each footpath describing where obstructions need to be cleared and styles repaired etc. Now he is going back to survey them again and see how they have improved.

Christopher enjoys less active pursuits, too. When he retired, for his own amusement, he researched the genealogy of European rulers of the last 900 years. This became 162 cross referenced tables, each tracing up to eight people through five generations and cross-referenced to antecedents and descendants. This was in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s when he was Chairman of the Bucks Family History Society and travelling by train a fair amount. These two connections led to this great work being published.

Christopher was baptised into the Church of England and spent his early years near Reading. He loved Byzantine History which led him to Greece in the late ’40’s and studying at the British School of Archaeology in Athens and learning to speak modem Greek. Subsequently, he taught English in Greek and Turkish secondary schools on the island of Cyprus. This led to an interest in the Greek Orthodox Church and to Chairing the Greek Relief Fund helping the families of political prisoners under the Greek Military Dictatorship for which he received recognition in 1983 by the democratic Papandreou government.

Christopher’s interest in Christianity continues as a Quaker as well as Anglican. He met Leni at a Quaker Meeting in Aylesbury and they married in 1977. They are actively involved with both movements and are generally interested in local ecumenical movements including the Julian Prayer Group (2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month, details in Contact, Churches Together in Wendover, Parish Magazine) and Justice & Peace Lunches (1st Tuesday of the month, Wendover Christian Centre).