Geddington & Newton W.I., a member of the Northamptonshire Federation, chose to engage in a two-year Community Challenge Project. The objective was to communicate with as many residents and organisations within the village as possible. The intention was to heighten the profile of the W.I. and identify a project that would involve the residents.
A sub-committee of five W.I. members was formed. Following much discussion, it was decided that the project should be to create an historical sign for Geddington, that would represent the past, present and future of the village. Following a number of brain-storming sessions and research into creating an historic sign, we launched the project with a coffee morning in May 2006, including lots of famous W.I. cakes! The objective of the morning was to encourage residents of all ages to identify what they would like included on the sign, what materials should be used and where in the village it should be sited. Following our first successful fund-raising effort, we were on a positive trail to accomplish our objective.
The committee visited various skilled manufacturers, including a blacksmith and a carpenter. Having researched different materials and discussed the pros and cons, much aided by the National Sign Club of Great Britain, we proceeded to put on paper various designs as suggested by our residents. Two resident artists put together an outline of all the suggestions made. It was from one of these designs that inspired the committee to create a number of ideas. Following our survey it was agreed that galvanised steel would be the choice of material for our sign. We were most impressed with steel, having visited a number of villages who had signs made in this material.
A local blacksmith, George James & Sons, who had done numerous pieces of work within the area, also had a family connection, with work that had been done in our local church, St Mary Magdalene. He was invited to our meetings to discuss the material and the design we felt would depict our village of Geddington. Needless to say, we were back and forth to the design board, having conferred with village organisations on how best to represent their interests group. As with most projects, having an all-inclusive scheme of work, including time talking and finance planning, outcomes were essential.
Following the costing of this project, the W.I. were very active in including residents in this mammoth fund-raising effort. A Dinner & Auction of Promises, supported by local businesses, held on St George’s Day in April 2007, and hosted at Boughton House Stable Rooms, with the kind permission of His Grace, the late Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry K.T., realised a third of the money needed to meet the costs. Further funds were raised through an envelope donation scheme, which every resident received through the Geddington Newsletter. Following further generous donations our target was met.
The siting of the sign was discussed with the Parish Council and County Council.
Eighteen months into the project, we were clear about the final design for the sign. Our next hurdle was to acquire planning permission from K.B.C. Having ascertained that the site, on a small area of grass at the southern entrance to the village, was clear of all services, in November 2007, we applied for planning permission. Convincing the Planning Department that the materials represented some of the history of the area, particularly as many residents worked, and still worked, in the local steel industry, was quite a time-consuming effort. We had hoped to have planning completed by January 2008, but we were challenged to reconsider the design of the post and again convince planners that the material we had chosen, was through consultation with residents, and that it represented past history. Following various meetings, planning agreement was finally acknowledged in April 2008. There were joyous celebrations from the W.I. sub-committee in realising our two-year project! All that was needed now was for it to be manufactured and installed.
At the base of the structure, a stone plinth had been designed, also to fit in with local stone structures nearby. A generous donation by Oundle Select Stone helped to keep the project within budget.
On July 2008, the sign was unveiled by the present Duke of Buccleuch, KBE, followed by afternoon tea and cakes in the Village Hall. Guests who generously donated and supported the project were invited by the W.I. to attend the ceremony. The sign was then handed over to the care of the Parish Council.