Local Face: Siân Chattle
Siân grew up in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. Her parents were both professional musicians, her father sang in St Paul’s Cathedral choir for 30 years, taking part in both the Queen’s Coronation and Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding. Her two brothers sang in the Chapel Royal and Siân was one of the first women servers (acolyte) in St Paul’s Cathedral. She spent much of her youth singing with professional choirs, including the Guards’ Chapel Choir, where her father was then Director of Music. As well as having a trained voice, Siân taught herself the guitar when she was young and this has played a big part in her future life.
Siân became a primary school teacher and married Phil, at the Guards’ Chapel, in 1984. After living in London for a couple of years, they moved to Wendover in 1986. Whilst raising three children (Tom, Michael & Beth), Siân worked in various schools in the area, before joining Wendover CofE Junior School – staying for the next 13 years.
Siân has worshipped at St Mary’s for many years, playing her guitar in the music group and singing in the choir. Over the years she has organised school children to take part in Harvest festivals and Christmas carol services and, at one point, ran a children’s orchestra. She serves on the PCC and is now helping St Mary’s to work towards being a dementia-friendly church.
While at Wendover Junior School, Siân pioneered the teaching of environmental issues, starting an ‘Eco Club’ and creating a ‘Peace Garden’ on the school grounds. Used by children to discover and experience nature, it consisted of a pond, vegetable beds, an orchard and wild flowers. Seeing how nature and being outside helped children who were struggling with the academic side of school was wonderful and stayed with Siân. In 2010 Siân joined up with The John Hampden school to plant a native woodland and wildflower meadow, which was opened by Chris Packham.
Siân’s tireless efforts in developing the Eco work at WJS led to the school being awarded the national Eco-School’s Green Flag and becoming one of the first schools in England being awarded Ambassador status – becoming a beacon school in Bucks.
In 2013, Siân decided to leave teaching. Her oldest son had previously been diagnosed with Autism and she could see the positive effects that working outside with nature had on his mental wellbeing. However, there was little provision for people like him and so she and a friend decided to create a garden that would fill this gap.
Lindengate is a mental health charity based at World’s End garden centre and started off as being an overgrown allotment site, opening its doors in 2014. It is now a thriving garden that helps approx 100 people (Gardeners) a week with mental health needs to regain their confidence and sense of wellbeing, through the use of horticulture and other activities. Siân, as a co-founder, managed the Gardener team and networked extensively across Bucks to build up Lindengate’s reputation.
Siân retired from Lindengate earlier this year. Having introduced the Memory Pathway sessions at Lindengate (run for people living with dementia and their carers) Siân recognised the need for more support in the local community. She helped set-up, and now chairs, the Wendover Dementia Action Alliance, which is the umbrella organisation for ‘all things dementia’ in Wendover. The Alliance runs various local events in the community and has Sir Jackie Stewart as their patron. The next event is a dementia-friendly Christmas Tea Dance on Saturday 14th December, 2-4pm, in St Mary’s Church for all in the wider community.
Siân also serves on the committee of a new charity – Wendover Dementia Support. Comprising retired medical professionals, they have recently set up the Monday Club at the Wendover Christian Centre for people living with dementia and their families. They are now also holding family awareness sessions on a regular basis, alongside home visits.