Philip meets Camilla at the SPT book launch

I was double-booked tonight, unfortunately. The dates for the town council meetings are set at least a year ahead, so there was no way I could change that. It was going to be an important meeting as I had to present the council's budget for the next financial year and ask the council to vote to approve it. Then late this afternoon I was asked to come early to the meeting as a last minute issue had arisen which might need us to change some details of the budget expenditure.

This was particularly annoying as I had promised to take a few pictures at the other event, the party to celebrate the publishing of Stroud Preservation Trust's book, 'Stroud – a town changed by community action'. I have mentioned the book several times, as I spent quite a while in the autumn taking a series of thirty portraits of the interviewees whose stories were featured in the book. As a trustee, I take on the role of taking pictures building an archive recording our activities.

Tonight the party would be gathering these interviewees together, many of whom might not have met for many years, if at all. But they all had important roles to play in Stroud's history during the last thirty years. The Preservation Trust was one of the first organisations formed by activists to save buildings that were threatened by development or neglect, by developers. They had started to bring their 1970s ethos to bear on the town centre, where concrete and brick malls were promoted as saviours and far preferable to the ancient and historic buildings we had. The book tries to tell these stories and has been received very well. We hope it will provide a primer and encouragement to a new generation whose activities are now needed to address the similar needs of our current clime.

I arrived early and had a few minutes with Camilla, the Trust's chairman about a local neighbourhood problem that the council is trying to help. Then I introduced her to Philip Booth, who I met when we started to set up Stroud Community TV about two years ago, which is a website which acts as a forum for anyone who has created any video films about Stroud. In the end I had to back out of the organisation, but Philip carried it through marvellously, so that Stroud Community TV now has countless films available to be viewed and is a wonderful resource for the whole community. I invited him to the party as I thought he would be interested and hoped he might bring a video camera and make a recording about the event, which he did. I suggested he start with Camilla and then introduced him to Anne who is the only founder member of the Trust who is still involved as a trustee, thirty years later! I then rushed off to council offices to wear another hat.

Philip is a very effective Green party councillor on Stroud District Council and he has his own blog, which is much admired. I contacted him last week as I suggested he might add two videos filmed at the Trust's latest building to be renovated, the Brunel Goods Shed, onto the Community TV website. They were made by the National Association of Preservation Trusts and one of them is a short interview with me advocating the use of photographs as a part of a Trust's activities. Philip has now linked to it via the Stroud Community TV website. From there you can see links to other films of local activities in Stroud.

You may even get to see the film of this party in a few days time when Philip has edited it. Perhaps it is time I started to produce some videos again as well.

By the time I finished the meeting, having got the council to vote to approve the budget, the party was over and Camilla was just leaving for home. But at least I had managed a couple of snaps earlier in the evening, one of which is this image.

I forgot to add that the party was held at Mills Cafe inWithy's Yard on Stroud High Street. This was the second site that the Preservation Trust worked to save and then renovate. Mills have been trading there for twenty-five years! Camilla told me tonight that John and Maggie Mills had introduced the first Italian coffee machine to Stroud, a Gaggia! Social history is amazing.

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