Local Faces: Wendy & Duncan Gray
Wendy and Duncan Gray are familiar in the area since 1997. Wendy was Chilterns born and bred at nearby Road Farm, just into the Parish of Great Missenden and remembers caddying for her grandparents at Ellesborough Golf Club as well as Nicholl’s Grocery Store. Duncan is from way north in Whitehaven, Cumbria and they met while working with Emmanuel International’s church community projects in rural Northern Uganda in 1994. Wendy was re-appointed to Uganda from Haiti (where she had spent 18 months) helping with health projects, whilst Duncan was there for a year setting up forestry and oxen cultivation in an area prone to looting and food shortage.
Long distance, letter and phone-call courting (no mobiles or internet in those days!) resulted in their marriage in 1996 at St Peter & St Paul’s Church Great Missenden (with Duncan’s nephew and Ugandan co-worker as best men), their first flat rented in Stoke Mandeville, then home to Moor Park in 1997. Wendy worked for English Nature as an Assistant Conservation Officer in the Thames & Chilterns Region before becoming Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) Officer at Bucks Museum Services Record Centre at Halton.
Some say it’s the water in Moor Park, but 4 wonderful children blossomed and attended Jack-in-the-Box as a great pre-school start before John Hampden, Wendover Junior, the Colet & other schools. The family enjoyed fellowship at Wendover Free Church and Wendy was a familiar organiser with her guitar at Noah’s Ark. Wendy was honoured and delighted to be invited as a Trustee for the Lionel Abel-Smith Trust in 2004 and continues to feel privileged to help deliver this unsurpassable asset to the village. She also helped prepare and present petitions to the Select Committee at the Palace of Westminster against HS2 for the Trust, for Halton Parish and from a personal farm perspective.
Having personal interests is important for everyone and Duncan continued to be involved with the Scouting movement after moving south. Firstly as Bagheera and Akela at Lee Common Cubs, then at 1st Wendover Mars Cubs. After helping support setting up of Halton RAF Scout Group he was then an Assistant Explorer Leader and currently Assistant Scout Leader there. With experience and skills in outdoor craft, fire-lighting, archery, air rifle target shooting and axe throwing, many local youngsters (including Brownies, Guides and school children) have enjoyed visits to Road Farm where there has always been a welcome for inspiring people to love the working countryside. Duncan became an apprentice butcher at 16, a trade that despite forays out of he stayed in for 30 years working over the years in several local butchers, always happy for a friendly banter with customers. He now works supporting young people with various life challenges, especially ASD and learning disabilities, to grow in independence and learn skills, supporting their growth and path forward.
The Grays moved “across the border” to the farm near Missenden after Wendy’s father died. Together with Wendy’s farmer brother and others, they set up Road Farm Countryways CIC as a not-for-profit social enterprise to provide special care farming and educational visits, enabling interaction on the farm. They include young people in difficult school circumstances, young adults in assisted living, a “Countrymen’s Club” for retired men with rural connections, provision for those with mobility problems as well as The-Tent-in-the-Orchard for those facing stress and grief. All can gain confidence, skills and motivation through supported involvement. “Farm to fork” cookery has been enjoyed by Scouts and Action4Youth groups, all enjoying Duncan’s informatively fun delivery. More cooking sessions, woodcraft and wildlife wanders are on the plans for 2021!”
Their children Nathan (22), Rachel (20), Reuben (17) and Lydia (13) continue to grow and flourish. Although they no longer live in Wendover, they still consider themselves part of the community and share many friendships and common concerns.
Do have a look at www.roadfarmcountryways.com and related social media – we can all help each other in different ways.