THE PARISH Pump is delivered, free of charge, to 98 per cent of all the houses in Hatherleigh, Meeth, Jacobstowe, Northlew, Monkokehampton and Exbourne, each month by a group of volunteers.
Thirty-two people help to ensure nine hundred copies find their way through letter boxes in Hatherleigh, and five hundred more to outlying villages.
Jayne Payne, at Hatherleigh Pottery, collects copy and oversees the distribution.
She presented each of those volunteers with a pottery mug, last Christmas, with the words "But I'd rather be delivering The Parish Pump" on. I'm not sure how true those words are, considering how many hills there are in Hatherleigh and the fact that we receive the Pump regularly at the beginning of eleven months every year, come heat wave or storm, but these volunteers certainly deserve our recognition.
The first magazine entitled The Parish Pump is dated October 1979 and was type written on orange paper and cyclostyled. It gave details of the parish church services, the flower rota and Sunday schools. More members for the choir were required (unfortunately the parish church no longer has a choir) and it was noted that the new vicarage was on its way up. Nothing much changes, however. While Hatherleigh raises funds at present for urgent repairs to Old Schools, in 1979 the church tower was in need of repairs. The total cost was £450 – a paltry sum compared with that needed for Old Schools today.
The Parish Pump this month, October, is numbered 390, and is a far superior production to that first edition 34 years ago this month. It contains advertisements and has expanded to contain news of forthcoming events, giving Hatherleigh and the surrounding villages the opportunity to advertise social events, club meetings, Hatherleigh school and town council news, community centre activities and even a record of the town's rainfall.
It may appear, as if by magic, on our doorsteps, but Neil Price, the Pump's editor puts in a tremendous amount of work to get it to this stage. It takes Neil three days each month to print it, and several days' work to edit. While advertising helps cover the cost, the Pump has given away well over £15,000 to local charities in the past, including the church and skate ramp, for example.
Neil has been in charge since 1998, dealing with all the vagaries of the printing equipment, collator and booklet maker in the past.
The present machine does what Neil calls "the whole shebang", but undoubtedly the fact that the Pump never fails to come through our letterboxes at the beginning of each month, owes a great deal to Neil, Jayne, and those 32 volunteers who deliver it through our letter boxes faithfully, each month.