Lockdown Spotlight. This week’s lockdown spotlight falls on a couple who have been at the very heart of village life for the past 26 years, Mike and Pauline Durham. There have been few, if any, community events over the past two decades that have not seen Mike and Pauline heavily involved. Whether it be summer fetes, the Great Coxwell playground or the Lockdown Support Group, they have been central to all that is great about Great Coxwell. In each of these many activities, their quiet (well maybe not in Mike’s case – He has a reputation for a booming voice!) Christian values have shone through.
The Durham’s moved to ‘Spicers’, (bottom left of the village next to Church Lees) in 1994, and then moved round the corner to Oak House in 2007, Oak House sits in the grounds of what was once John Webb’s wood yard. Mike’s association with Great Coxwell began many years before their arrival in the 1990s. He was one of eight siblings, growing up with six sisters and one brother. Five of them were born whilst the family lived in Berry Hill Cottage, not a stone’s throw from the Durhams’ current abode. Indeed, Mike’s father and his uncle used to plough (with horses) the fields on Monty Webb’s farm over 80 years ago. (Monty was Jez and Pete Webb’s grandfather.) So unsurprisingly, Mike has always had a strong attachment to Great Coxwell.
For the record, Mike’s uncle, on his mother’s side, was James Leonard Wearn, a name that appears on the village War Memorial. James was killed during the Salerno landings, Italy, in September 1943.
Mike was Managing Director of SW Group Logistics for many years whilst Pauline completed her teaching career as Deputy Head of Ferndale School, Faringdon. She still works as a volunteer for the National Trust Educational Department, based at the Coleshill Estate. Their kids, Adam and Sophie have flown the nest now. Adam has followed his father’s footsteps into logistics whilst Sophie is Deputy Head of Department at Walthamstow Girls’ School.
Mike served on the Parish Council for 16 years, and was Chairman for 5 of those years. A natural leader, he brought vitality and compassion to the role. The Durhams remain fully involved in the Village, making contributions to Art Weeks, the monthly Cream Teas, the annual Fete, the Christmas Fare and the Park development. Their other passions including their Allotment, where things are now getting very competitive (!), and local walks, which they have explored with worrying enthusiasm during lockdown.
What’s been the most difficult thing about lockdown? They both agreed that they have missed family very badly – particularly their new grandson, Jackson.
Any tips on lockdown? ‘Get out more, get to know your neighbours better, and bake more cakes!’ said Pauline. She is an avid and excellent cake-maker. She is also a jigsaw puzzler, and has completed six 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles during lockdown. On the other hand, Mike is a quick crossword addict, and is now half-way through his second Daily Telegraph, Quick Crossword book since incarceration in lockdown. Each book consists of over 300 crosswords! His aim is to complete a quick crossword in 7 minutes.
By the way… Did you know that the d’Arcy Dalton Way was named after Colonel d’Arcy Dalton, who was a founder member of the Oxford Field Path Society. The walk was created in his honour and runs for 66 miles from Fenny Compton to Wayland Smithy.
More pictures of Great Coxwell from the past
Here are two more pictures of Great Coxwell from years gone by. The first is a photograph of the junction from the 1960s. The second is a map from 1659 showing the village divided into ownership segments possibly identifying the parcels of land required to make their tythe contributions to the diocese, which were then stored in the Tythe Barn. (with thanks again to Andrew Whiting). Tythes were normally one tenth part of agricultural produce set apart ‘as an offering to God’, regarded as an obligation or tax for the support of the church.