Hanham's 'first couple' prepare for a well-earned rest
THEY have given years of loyal service to the Hanham community, but John and Heather Goddard are finally stepping down from their councillor roles.
John and Heather Goddard pictured at a recent dinner at Hanham's Zest restaurant, where they were taken courtesy of Hanham Abbots Parish Council and Hanham Parish Council
The husband and wife, who have lived in the area for 55 years, will retire from South Gloucestershire Council at the May elections.
John, who was born in Wellington, Somerset, was first elected to South Glos in 2003 and has also served for 25 years on Hanham Abbots Parish Council, including several years as chair, and on Hanham Parish Council since 2007.
“My family had always been interested in politics and I'd been a Young Conservative from about the age of seven. I love the cut and thrust of politics and being able to help other people.”
John, who will also step down from his parish council roles, said: “I'm 80 this year and another four years would have made me 84 and I thought I may not be as efficient then as I had been up to now!”
John is a trustee of Samuel White's Education Trust and was a founder governor at Hanham High School, now Hanham Woods Academy, a role he did for 35 years, with a chair post for 13 of those.
John, a former national salesman for electronic equipment, lists one of his greatest achievements as establishing a sports hall for Hanham High as well as getting an old school canteen there transformed into a scout hut.
“There wasn't a sports facility in Hanham that the community could use until then,” John said.
“The lows have been in recent years with the cuts in local government. Unfortunately South Glos has had to make reductions in services and that hasn't gone down well. It's frustrating.”
John, who held a position as cabinet member for resources until a year ago, said he was looking to fill his time with voluntary work, particularly with community organisation Southern Brooks, as well as concentrating on hobbies such as photography, touring and water colouring painting.
“I love the community that we've grown with. Every time you walk down the street you see someone you know or someone you've tried to help.”
Exeter-born Heather, 76, has been a councillor for the Hanham ward since 2003.
She has held the cabinet post for communities as well as previously serving for two years as cabinet member for strategic partnerships, European affairs and external affairs.
Before that Heather served on Kingswood District Council, which then became a borough council, for 17 years.
“I was first elected in 1979 – the year when Margaret Thatcher became prime minister,” said Heather.
“She was quite an inspiration for women entering in politics. When I went on to Kingswood there were only five women and now about 40 per cent of councillors are women.
“I was the first and only woman chairman of Kingswood from 1986-7 and met so many people doing inspirational things in their communities.”
She has also served on Hanham Abbots Parish Council for 17 years and on Hanham Parish Council for 12 years.
“I became involved in politics because I like people and find them interesting. It was also an opportunity to help people.”
Heather, a former secondary school teacher of domestic science, served as a governor on three Hanham schools, including Hanham Abbots Junior School for more than 25 years, with 10 of those as chair of governors.
She was chair of Whitfield Preservation Trust from 1996 to 2008 and appeared on the TV programme Restoration to try to save the Grade I listed Whitfield Tabernacle in Kingswood.
The couple have a son and a grandson.
Heather said the best thing about her councillor role was meeting people.
“I will miss the local people. They are very warm. I like to be able to help people and it's very rewarding when you are able to do so. They are very appreciative for what you can do for them.”