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News - History Of The Chronicle - 6
The final editorial of 1997 dealt a double blow. First it was announced that there would be no Christmas show for the first time in many years. Then Andy announced: "As of July next year I intend to 'stand down' as editor… During the three years I will have been editor, The Chronicle has been transformed from 'cut and paste' into the 'digital age' and I believe maintained the aims initially laid down by Graham Parker (today this would be called 'the mission statement'). However, I now feel it would benefit from a fresh approach to it's content." Andy had indeed transformed the presentation of The Chronicle, applying modern computer techniques to aid layout and incorporate graphics. However, he was writing and typing up large amounts of it as well, and organising printing and distribution, and he was spending up to six days a month on its preparation. Quite rightly, he wanted more time to concentrate on some pet projects of his own. However, it was to be six months before he would depart. Elsewhere in the issue the sad news of Frank Higgs' death was reported. January 1998 started with Andy reflecting on the previous year and observing, "The early part of the year saw our new neighbours move into the Nashs Farm development and friendlier people you couldn't wish to meet." The issue also carried a report from 'Nobby' Wilkinson on the 'Bull Monty' staged by 630 club members in the Bull and Butcher and inspired by the film with a similar name. And a public meeting was announced to see if there was support for redevelopment of the Church Room. Next month Andy reported that only ten people turned up to the meeting. The Banner homes planning appeals were rumbling on with the news that the plans for five more houses had once again been turned down. At the Annual Parish meeting, reported in issue 168, it was recorded "Andy Bystra reported that the Chronicle was in improved financial health due to a donation from the Parish Council, private donations, and fundraising events. As always more contributions would be welcome. The average length of each issue had been reduced in order to cut costs.". It was also reported that a Chronicle Cabaret, organised by Neil Chesher with help from the other cabaret stalwarts, had raised £150 for The Chronicle. In May Andy worried that there had been no offers to take over the editorship and said, "Therefore I conclude that next month's issue will be the last". In his last editorial in the June 1998 issue he thanked all the contributors and said that at that time there was no firm plan for continuation of the magazine. With that, Andy Bystra bowed out as editor, but he didn't go away. Since then he has remained a major contributor, with his familiar bee motif still adorning many of the village news items. In September 1998 Andi Swain took over as editor. A new approach had been agreed, and The Chronicle was now to be produced as more of a team effort. The team was Andi Swain (editor), Andy Bystra (features and distribution), Ivan Greenaway with Liz Barlow (advertising) and John Whyte (finance/funding). With his first issue Andi was able to celebrate 15 years of The Chronicle and report that regular contributor and former Parish Councillor Colin Higgs had been voted the Top Parish Volunteer. The next issue - 171 - reported that the final phase of Nashs Farm had been granted planning permission subject to legal formalities and a new feature gave local restaurant reviews along with "Abbott ratings" to show how good they were. November saw Carol and I being welcomed on the Peoples Page (we had arrived in September) and reported that the Open Gardens had raised £270 and the Harvest Auction £260, both for Church Funds. Two whole pages were devoted to 'Millennium Matters' with Liz,
Francesca and Jackie saying, "there is clearly not enough enthusiasm at present to make it possible to book a marquee". Andi Swain's October editorial said, "Well, my third Chronicle and I seem to be getting into the swing of things! I still haven't worked out how Andy Bystra managed to look after all elements of production - editorial duties alone are quite time consuming". This month Dave Lewis' Flackwell Electronics advert moved to take up the whole back page and the tradition of including within it a (sometimes rather cryptic) cartoon involving Dave began. Millennium matters gained momentum with the Christmas 1998 issue reporting that a party would be held in a marquee at Oak Farm House and by issue 176 in February 1999 all 120 tickets were sold. The speed with which the Millennium party preparations gained momentum reflects the surprising extent of social activities within the village. The Chronicle has always reported on these and many articles of that time were reflecting this rich social agenda, with reports on cabarets, a Burns night, a St Georges Dinner and many other events. In March it was reported that Richard (Dicky) Chapman had passed away. Also that month, Clare Shorrock wrote about the inaugural meeting of the Aston Abbotts History group and Andy Bystra admitted to having lost the previous month's Chronicles off the back of his motorbike when he picked them up from Waddesdon School, where they are printed. The following month Andy Bystra reported that the last four new houses at Nashs Farm were nearing completion with the words, "I just hope however, that we have all learned from our dealings over the initial phases of this planning application just how tricky and ruthless developers can be and be better prepared the next time". A spoof article from 'The Church Spier' asked for donations (cash only please) to help fight the Aston Abbotts helipad, recently announced by Dave Lewis and at the 1999 Parish Meeting Andi Swain was able to report that "The Chronicle was in good health with 27 regular advertisers and approximately 20 regular contributors. Distribution had reached 178 copies. Reader's opinions on content were to be sought informally. Finances were on an even keel - assuming the annual grant from the Parish Council could be renewed, there would be as shortfall c £250." Andi asked for a contribution from Fete proceedings. In May Christine Scott reported "One morning just after Christmas there it was - a male Black Redstart - sitting on our back wall jauntily flicking its fiery red tail. I have seen Black redstart many times on the Continent but never in inland Britain". Andi was able to "say a big thank you to Tom Manning and the Parish Council for its very kind contribution to the production costs for the current year". Also in May The Chronicle was dragged kicking and screaming into the modern age when it gained an email address. Nigel Palmer grabbed the honour of being the first person to email the magazine but, as reported in June, nobody could read it.
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