CAMILLE BERRIMAN: Community spirit as strong as ever

A personal view
A personal view

Stood in the unseasonably windy May weather on Sunday, I was struck by how lucky we are to live in a town with such strong community spirit.

I was waiting for cyclists to return to Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club after a poignant cycle ride to mark the 40th anniversary of a terrible air disaster. There, I was joined by family, friends, photographers, TV crew and well-wishers.

As the intrepid cyclists rode in there were cheers, hugs, and tears from those taking part as the magnitude of their achievements struck home. Yes, they had cycled 310 miles, but more importantly they had collectively raised £100,000 for charity and been part of a fitting memorial to the 18 club members who lost their lives in the 1974 crash.

It was the third event in recent days to remind me that Bury still retains a ‘small town’ feel.

The first was two weeks ago, when I was one of the first members of the public to queue up to see the Magna Carta at St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

Large handbags are not permitted in the exhibition, so all the women in the queue handed over their most precious possession to the stewards. As I watched my bag disappearing on someone’s else’s shoulder, it never occurred to me that I might not get it back. Had I been in London instead, I might not have felt the same way!

Then, on Friday, I was backstage at The Apex for the Fashion Fusion catwalk show. There, amidst all the chaos, I was overwhelmed by the team effort.

Members of the audience would have had no idea an army of West Suffolk College students was beavering away in a stuffy changing room ensuring hair and make-up looked impeccable, or that St Nicholas Hospice Care chefs spent the afternoon making enough sandwiches to sustain those behind the scenes. And they would not have experienced the friendly camaraderie between the models taking part. There was not a shred of competition, instead there was a shared intent to make the show as good as it could be.

Sometimes, when we read bad news, it’s easy to forget about all of the small, good things that happen in our community on a daily basis.