Meet the people of...Epping

PUBLISHED: 12:19 03 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:18 20 February 2013

Meet the people of...Epping

Meet the people of...Epping

Situated in south-west Essex, on the outskirts of London, is the thriving, medieval market town of Epping. Joanne Jarvis spoke to three members of this contented communit

Eppings Town Mayor,
Councillor Janet Hedges

Cllr Janet Hedges wasnt happy just sitting back and enjoying life in Epping she wanted to make a difference. Six years ago she became an Epping town councillor and in May of last year, Janet was elected as town mayor, a position which allows her to represent the town council and the people of Epping in a non-political role.
I joined the council because I wanted to put something back into the community, Janet explains. Id always really liked Epping and had been interested in the community, so I thought Id see if I could do something for the town rather than just enjoy everything around me.
The thing I like most about Epping is the community spirit because there are so many different associations and clubs that are all knitted together with the four churches in the town and this makes a marvellous community. I have now lived in Epping for 27 years and I would never consider living anywhere else.
Janet, who is also a district councillor for Epping, added: I enjoy my job because I like getting out and meeting new people from all walks of life, and becoming the town mayor is probably the thing I am most proud of since I joined the council. I am grateful to my fellow councillors for electing me to this position. In my year I have been able to speak to all people, in all walks of life, visiting hospitals and nursing homes for the aged, as well as local societies that do so much for Epping.
During the last year, Janet has been raising money for the St Johns Church Restoration Fund and Essex Air Ambulance, but now her duties will draw to a close as she hands over office to a new mayor to be elected in May.

Epping Fire Stations watch manager,
Derek Whitbread
Derek Whitbread has been striving to make Epping a safer place since he joined Essex County Fire and Rescue Service 35 years ago. He was born and bred in Epping and now manages the towns fire station. As well as fighting fires, attending road accidents and dealing with major emergencies, he is also involved with preventative community safety work by embarking on a number of innovative schemes to educate and protect those most vulnerable in the community.
Derek, one of 923 full-time firefighters that are employed by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, explains: I initially joined the fire service for six months after someone asked me to give it a go. Three-and-a-half decades later and Im still here. I really enjoy it though and have no regrets. Epping is a busy place to work as a firefighter because the fire station backs up Loughton, Harlow and Ongar. The thing I like most about my job is meeting new people and helping the community who are always very appreciative of the work we do. We attend on average around 30 fires a month as well as road traffic accidents and home safety visits, but we are always looking for new recruits.
Dereks son and daughter have since followed in his footsteps and are also firefighters based in Harlow and Epping. Its very rewarding, Derek adds. If youre looking for a new career, then consider the fire service. Epping is a very nice place to live and it has lots to offer. I like the environment its so close to London, but close to the countryside too. Theres nowhere else I would rather live.

Headteacher of Ivy Chimneys Primary School
Denise Drew
Denise Drew has worked at Ivy Chimneys School since January 1988. She joined as a class teacher before becoming the headteacher in 2003, following the retirement of Julia Dimon, and has loved every minute of it.
I first visited school in the summer of 1987 and was very impressed by the happy atmosphere and its wonderful position bordering the edge of Epping Forest. Once I was appointed to the staff, everyone both in and around the school and the community immediately welcomed me.
Denise was so impressed with the school that both of her children were also once pupils. She continues: I know the school, both as a parent and a member of staff. My own children, like others living in this area, have benefited from living in close proximity to both the city of London and the countryside of Epping Forest.
Denise believes that the ethos of the school continues to foster an atmosphere where all members of the local community are valued and respected. Ivy Chimneys School recently celebrated its 50th birthday and its such a pleasure to receive so many visits from past pupils and staff, many of whom remain in contact with us regularly, adds Denise.
Even more recently we have celebrated the fact that Jean Wilson, our school crossing patrol lady, has been helping our children and families cross Centre Drive safely for the last 25 years. I am very proud to be the headteacher of such a happy and successful school, which I know is highly regarded by both the local and wider communities. I also feel privileged to work with such a supportive and professional staff and governors, who all really care about our children and the wider school community. This is evident by the amount of support, which we receive from our families. Epping has been and still remains a very important place in my life.

Eppings potted history
The town of Epping grew up at what is now the northern end of Epping Forest, rising to local importance after it received its market charter in 1253. The towns position on the road from London to East Anglia ensured that it prospered with many coaching inns and an association with the odd highwayman or two.
Epping Forest is the last vestige of the great Forest of Essex, which once stretched from Stratford Bridge to Manningtree. The forest was a possession of the Crown; a place in which the royal passion for hunting was indulged. Punishments for poachers were harsh and taking a deer carried the same penalty as murder. Over time, the forest shrank as the Crown granted land to reward loyalty and buy-off opposition. When the City of London Corporation took charge of Epping Forest in 1882 it was 5,530 acres in size. The Corporations custody of Epping Forest has prevented development and ensured the forest remains an asset to both Epping and the people of Essex and London.

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