Benta Hickley – One of our “Village People” – Horton Parish Council
Interviewer: What is your name?
Benta: Benta Hickley
Interviewer: Your Organisation Name?
Benta: Horton Parish Council
Interviewer: Remembering the other “Village People” disco band of 1980s which one were you? (Which costume did you see yourself in?)
Benta: The native American, I loved the beading on the outfits
Interviewer: Where about in Horton do you live/work?
Benta: Bells Lane, Horton
Interviewer: How long have you lived in the village?
Benta: Since 1986
Interviewer: Who do you live with (partner/children/parents/pets/plants etc)?
Benta: Just my husband now as the girls have left home, although their cats sometimes stay with us if they go on holiday
Interviewer: What was the first record (single,LP,tape or CD) you bought?
Benta: ABBA’s Waterloo, 1974
Interviewer: When did you start this activity?
Benta: I started working a clerk for Horton Parish Council in 2016 soon after Betty Marlow sadly passed away.
Interviewer: What inspired you to do this?
Interviewer: Please explain exactly what the role requires you to do?
Benta: The clerk is the only paid member of the parish council. They ensure the council is run according to to statutory requirements, implement the decisions of the councillors, prepare agendas, attend meeting and write minutes, prepare the budget, maintain the finance records, pay invoices as approved by the council as well as other admin responsibilities.
I did this for 5 years then my circumstances changed and I was able to retire from paid work. I knew I didn’t want to step down completely so as soon as we got a new clerk I signed up as a councillor instead as there was a vacancy.
With the two pubs in Horton both closing I was aware that there was nowhere for people to meet socially in the village, and the poor bus service meant it was difficult for residents to meet elsewhere either.
Along with St Michael’s church we set up Horton Community Coffee Morning as a place residents could meet and have a hot drink and a snack. The parish council agreed to fund a RBWM pop up library each week too. Since then we have added a jigsaw swap, visits from Repair Cafe, Fire and Rescue service, and a knit and natter group. The police and the RBWM community wardens often pop in, and we can signpost people if we can’t help them ourselves
Interviewer: If I had a magic wand, and you had one wish, what would it be?
Benta: That all litter and flytipping would find its way back to the home / car / pockets of whoever was responsible for it!
Interviewer: Describe your typical day, from the time you wake up, to the time you typically get to bed.
Benta: As well as being a Parish Councillor I am also working for the churches in the two villages: doing their admin whilst they are without a vicar. Other than helping run the Monday coffee morning, I spend most of my days in front of a computer, answering emails, sorting out funerals, weddings and baptisms and booking vicars to cover services. In my spare time I like sewing: I make Gingers and patchwork quilts, and I also sew for the Days for Girls charity with a lovely group of local ladies (on the last Saturday of the month)
Interviewer: Where would your dream holiday be? & Why?
Benta: We are lucky that we have family living in all sorts of locations overseas, it’s lovely visiting Florida, Texas, Norway and Australia to meet up with family as well as see different places. Ideally I love a warm holiday with a beach
Interviewer: Presumably your achievement wasn’t all plain sailing, what was the low point?
Benta: Nothing really
Interviewer: ..and the high point?
Interviewer: What motivates you to keep going?
Benta: Making sure Horton residents get the best facilities we can provide!
Interviewer: Do you have a specific goal in sight?
Benta: We know that the coffee morning doesn’t appeal to everyone, and not everyone is free on Monday mornings, but we hope everyone knows it exists, and knows they can email the Parish Council for help at any time!
Interviewer: How important do you think it is that you are based in Horton village, has that affected your success?
Benta: I’ve lived in Horton since 1986: I’ve met lots of people in the villages over the years and know to ask when I need help for me or someone else.
Interviewer: Do you have a message for your neighbours, friends and the wider local community?
Benta: Please pop into the coffee morning one week and see what we offer – and feel free to suggest anything we can do to improve it.
Please come to a parish council meeting some time and see what the parish council does for the parish, and please let us know if you have a problem … we might pick it up from Facebook but we might miss it, where as we will respond to an email
Interviewer: If you were an animal, what would you like to be & why?
Benta: A cat. Cats seen to have the best life, they sleep all day and have servants to feed them and brush them
Interviewer: Many many thanks Benta. I can certainly vouch to the great success on Monday, and to the great community work you do in Horton and also in Wraysbury.