Head of police praises Daventry estate campaigner

A team of volunteers clearing part of Tamar Square near the Pike and Eel earlier this year
A team of volunteers clearing part of Tamar Square near the Pike and Eel earlier this year

A community champion in Daventry got a visit from the head of the police in the county.

Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds went to see Jacquie Ward on Thursday last week.

Jacquie started out picking up litter on the Grange estate near her home. Over the last two years she has helped rejuvenate areas of the estate,launch a new toddler group, an generally campaign to improve the way the estate looks.

She said: “I saw Adam was tweeting about visiting various community projects, and I thought it’d be good for him to see everything we’ve done on the Grange.

“We met at the toddler group Butterflies at the Nene Hall, and then walked through the estate talking about what we’ve been doing.

“I had my litter picking kit there so I was picking up bits and pieces.

“I remember at one point we spotted some dog poo on the path, so without really thinking I whipped out my can and sprayed it bright orange. I don’t think I’ll forget the look on Adam’s face!

“We spoke about policing – PSCO Paul Harris and PC Michelle Townsend do so much for the estate, and people like seeing officers out. They’re much more likely to report a problem to someone they know on the street than ringing up the general number.

“I took him to see Bev at the Pike and Eel because she’s done a lot at the pub and in the community.

“I started off picking up litter along one path. Since then it’s grown to include everybody on the estate just about. And I get support from the district and county councils, DDH and the police.

“It’s really become a full-time job for me.

“I don’t want to get roads resurfaced for the sake of it – I just want the potholes filled in. I ask for hedges to be cut back, not so they’re pristine but just so they don’t overhand the footpaths. I don’t ask for a lot and the key is persistence. At first I would report something, and it might go to the wrong person – all I’d get back is ‘it’s not our responsibility’. It can take time to find out who will deal with it. Take the estate’s footpaths and alleys – some are looked after by DDC, others by the county council, and some are owned by DDH.

“All I want is for our estate to look better for the community that lives here so that more people can take pride in where we live.

“I know getting the estate looking better won’t be a quick thing – I expect it to take five years really.”

In an interview this week to mark the end of his third year in office, PCC Simmonds was asked about the highlight of his time in the role. He said: “I think the highlight has come very recently in the form of Jacquie Ward. She lives in Daventry on the Grange Estate, and she has through her own force of personality and commitment to her community changed people and the place.

“Beginning with simply deciding to pick up litter in her nearby streets she has, over two years, created a community that picks up litter and puts litter in the bin. She has rejuvenated the community centre, pub, held community events, cleaned graffiti off walls and much more.

“When I walked with her around her community, watching her saying hello to her neighbours, picking up litter with her ‘picker’ and bin bag, walking at quite a pace she suddenly gets out a can of orange spray paint and sprays dog poo bright orange.

“At that point if it wasn’t clear to me already, I knew this determined, passionate woman was someone special and I wished I could bottle her spirit and replicate what she has right across our county. She’s become my highlight.”