For all of us this year has seen a slow return to a form of normality. Forster Country is still there in all its glory and it has provided many with a new realisation of its delights while coping with Covid restrictions. Throughout the summer some who have been able to take a lunch break from their screens have wandered in the fields for half an hour or so rather than spend it with a sandwich at their desk in the office. Others have discovered Forster Country for the first time and expressed surprise at its rural nature. The skylarks have been a delight again and the walk out to Weston via Forster Country returning along its other flank has taken us into a different world of sheep, horses, buzzing insects and the occasional glimpse of a deer.

We believe that the loss of Forster Country would have a profoundly negative effect on the lives of many people and we have taken a firm decision to resist development for as long as possible. We cling to the hope that we may yet see many years of preservation of our countryside. One factor that is apparent is our falling birth rate which is now around 1.6. This could lead to a fall in in population and this seems to be borne out by recent Office of National Statistics predictions for new dwellings which are now significantly lower than those used to underpin the Stevenage Local Plan which was drafted in 2016. You may wish to raise this with your local councillors wherever you live.

We held our AGM was in St Nicholas Church by kind permission of The Rev David Brown. We gained two new committee members. The meeting was followed by tea, cakes and conversation.

Turning to the future, things seem quiet on the northern front just now. But we remember Ethelred, and in an attempt to be ready for any future moves on housing development we had a brainstorming session at our recent committee meeting generating several ideas to support our continuing campaign.

I’d like to wish you a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Thank you for your support and I hope that you can join us for Forster’s Birthday Walk on 1st January at 2 pm, starting from St Nicholas Church lychgate.

John Spiers – Chairman (edited for the website)