Joe’s Crow country - why we should value our local heroes

HAVE you ever spotted something in your local area that you think could be improved? Perhaps you’ve got a gripe with a public transport service, libraries or disabled access? If so, and this is what will divide a lot of us, have you ever done anything about it?

David Cameron’s Big Society initiative started just over a year ago, but have any of you felt a bigger desire or more responsibility to do something about problems in your community? It may just look like a smokescreen that diverts attention to local level and away from frontbenchers but even so, despite the flimsy ploy, isn’t it a duty of everyone to be proud of their society?

If, like me, you aren’t one of the people that does anything about your community’s little problems, then you should be grateful for the people that do care. The people that are doers and not moaners, and that pick up the slack left by the rest. The people that strive for improvement and fight for the rights of the weak.

Those of you that have read a copy of the Crow in the past few years might have worked out I’m talking about Terry Hutt, or to give him his full title – veteran campaigner Terry Hutt.

No job is too big or too small for the 76-year-old former carpenter. After retirement decided not to take the easy way out and put his feet up, but devoted all his spare time to improving his community whether or not it affects him directly.

He moved to Whaddon eight years ago from Waltham Abbey, where he has the freedom of the town, after growing up in North London. He had a tough childhood, which he says, is one of the inspirations behind his active lifestyle and devotion to helping others.

When telling me about his latest project, which was to give out frozen turkey dinners to the poor and disabled over Christmas last year, I asked him why he was doing it. “Because I know what it’s like to be poor and hungry,” came his response. The emotion in his voice made me choke.

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I’ve heard people say, and he won’t mind me saying this because he’s fully aware of it, that Terry is a pain, a pest and a nuisance. When they do, I think to myself, what are you doing about problems in your area? Probably nothing.

Anyway, I’m inclined to agree with them: Terry is a pest, but in a good way. He never stops badgering councillors and politicians, from local right up to international level, until he gets what he wants. His persistence knows no boundaries.

The disabled, the deaf, the elderly, young mothers and school children have all benefitted during my short time in Royston as a result of Terry’s prolific letter writing to politicians or speeches at council meetings. He’s not always successful in what he does, but he tries, and much of this work goes unnoticed.

Whether he is striving to get a safer rout to school for kids in Royston or travelling to Brussels to talk to an EU minister about toilets in Cambridge city centre, which he is to do soon, he is doing a service to his community that puts most of us to shame.

A familiar face to the likes of Boris Johnson, Bob Crow, Oliver Heald and Ken Livingstone, Terry travels to London at least once a week to hand in petitions at parliament or lead rallies for those less fortunate, which at his age, is especially impressive.

Upon reading this I’m sure Terry will be modest, as he thinks what he does is what we should all be doing. If we were it would be a bit chaotic, but at least we could all honestly say we were helping out our community.

Although camping out for four nights at Westminster Abbey to get a glimpse of Prince William and Kate Middleton was completely beyond my belief.