Local Face: Ron Melville

Ron was born in St Andrews, Scotland and brought up on a farm just on the outskirts of the city thereby developing an interest in wildlife, the countryside and the natural environment. This continued at Edinburgh University with a BSc in Ecology with Honours in Forestry. He soon joined the Forestry Commission in the beautiful Mull of Kintyre in the West Coast of Scotland, followed by stretches in Snowdonia and Kielder before 5 years as a Wildlife Research Officer, mainly dealing with deer and grey squirrel issues. Following this Ron was transferred to the South Wales Valleys which was to be one of the most interesting and challenging periods of his working career. It was also where he had his 15 minutes of fame on all national television channels eating grey squirrel pie!

Ron moved to Buckinghamshire in 1992 to open a new Midlands regional office based at Wingrave. After a considerable amount of time house hunting, it was obvious that Wendover was the place to stay! He finally moved to London as Regional Director with responsibility for urban and community forestry throughout England, including trips to Paris, Amsterdam and other European cities!

Ron found retirement very difficult for the first six months. It was a chance discussion with the Chair of Wendover Library Trust that introduced him to the local community library. When working in South Wales and Surrey, he had initiated a number of ‘Friends Groups’, so he knew that they could be a great way to involve local people. Friends of Wendover Library was born and with the help of Phil Mitchell and the sadly missed Vaughan Davies it now has over 260 members and led to the very popular OnScreen in the meeting room, the Quarterly Newsletter Shelf Life, the very successful annual Charity Golf Match and numerous other events and functions. The production of 4 free Walks leaflets has been a major addition to the tourist and community information role. The annual calendar has led to a summertime exhibition of local photos. Don’t forget to submit your entry by 30 June, fowlmembers@hotmail.com.

If libraries are going to survive in the future, they must be more than libraries and become a central hub for the whole community. That has always been the long-term aim. Many hours and many years were spent preparing grant applications for extending and restructuring the community library. All to no avail. In particular, to be eventually turned down by HS2 for their compensation funds was a great disappointment. Finally, however, through the close association with the Bucks County Library Service they have received nearly £500,000 including £310,000 from the Arts Council. Watch this space!