7:00am Wednesday 2nd May 2012
By Tom Jennings
A SMALL community in Witney has banded together to put up a permanent reminder of two much-loved former neighbours.
Roland and Mary Wilcock were among the first people to live in Woodlands Road when the homes were built in about 1960.
For years they helped to bring the community together through their annual carol singing event.
The couple raised thousands of pounds for charities including The Royal Blind Society, Witney Community Hospital and a Witney homeless charity.
But Mr Wilcock, who was the first principal of West Oxfordshire College, now Abingdon and Witney College, died in 2010 at the age of 94.
He received an OBE for his services to education in 1977.His wife Mary died in 2011, aged 90.
Now their neighbours have raised more than £700, partly through last year’s carol singing, to buy a bench in their honour.
The bench was unveiled in Woodgreen, near Holy Trinity Church, on Saturday.
Former neighbour Kathy Marnier, 64, said: “Everyone on the street was very fond of them and we wanted to have something on-going in their memory.
“Everyone can sit on the bench and remember them, as well as enjoy the view.
“They were such kind and considerate people who did everything in their power to help people.
“They were just amazing people and you do not come across people like that very often in life.”
Bill Hickman, 78, who used to live next door to Mr and Mrs Wilcock, said: “They were terrific.
“Everyone loved them in the road.
“They had a good word for everybody and would help in any possible way.
“They were so welcoming when we came to Witney and remained so, and they were that way with everyone.”
He added: “Everyone I have spoken to said the bench is a wonderful idea.
“It is in a perfect position and it is a view they enjoyed so much.”
Mrs Wilcock had two children from a previous marriage and her daughter, Lesley Saltmarsh, 70, of London, said: “I think the bench is a wonderful idea.
“They would both have been immensely happy and proud that it is there.”
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