It’s not too late to subscribe to the new local magazine for Bodle Street Green. The team of volunteers had been out and about delivering the second edition of The Bodle to those who have already signed up. To find out more about the story behind this new venture, we had a chat with Flowie Georgiou, editor of THE BODLE . . . .
Q: What inspired you to start this project? And what’s it been like getting it off the ground?
A: During Autumn 2020 I became increasingly aware from conversations with friends and villagers that there were many who were experiencing seriously worrying impacts from being separated from other people and it was effecting their mental health and wellbeing. I was also made aware of the horrendous effects being locked-down was having on many small businesses. All sorts of things were going on in people’s lives, but they were missing the usual connection with others to work things through or get support.
I thought: we are in danger of losing our connections with each other and sense of community. And this coincided with being part of groups like Wild about Warbleton and the Gardening club that had articles to publish but no obvious local place to do it. So I thought……..if ever there was a time to get something off the ground to try and reconnect people and reach out to offer help, now was that time.
So in January I started to put the first copy of The Bodle together. I really wanted it to be a hardcopy mag that popped through your letterbox with articles from people you might know or have heard of or just found out they lived in your village. To try to engender a feeling of closeness between the writer and the reader. I also wanted to get people to see how many local small businesses are here and ready to work, and requiring everyone’s support. A number of people said they missed having a parish magazine with its adverts and contact info in hardcopy to refer to, so I tried to include that.
I’d never done anything like this before and I’m lucky to have a techie husband who lets me indulge my whims! Richard gave me a quick run through Microsoft publisher and agreed to take on the online version of the hardcopy mag. (little did he know!).I spoke to a lovely lady who edits The Messenger and she put me in touch with their printer. I thought I’ll fund the £248 printing costs for the first run and then try to raise enough through subscriptions, donations and advert fees to do the rest of the year.
I didn’t want to try and replace any existing magazine such as a parish mag, it was to be a village mag, a local community mag, A5 in size and full of interesting things and local business info and where to get support if you needed it. I was terrified it would be a flop and I also did not want to be part of the money side of things so imagine my joy when I received 2 huge donations to support the print of March edition. Then a Treasurer came forward! Then heaps of volunteers wanting to help distribute and / or be a village volunteer. And then subscriptions started coming in!
The most incredible part was the unbridled generosity of spirit and enthusiasm, heartfelt emails and conversations of support and encouragement. Literally, scores of them. I did not need to worry, The Bodle had taken off! Here’s one thing that happened; an elderly couple who live on the edge of the village only found out about the deaths of Jim and Penny Petrides as a result of the first edition of The Bodle coming through their door. (I rest my case). Since then, the gentleman has loaned me his incredible collection of vintage village photographs which I will use for future editions.
Q: You’ve got lots of brilliant content, right from the start. How did you go about finding your contributors? And can you tell us a little about some of them?
A: I just asked everyone I know if they could write just a little something to go in the first edition. There were some people whose interests and skills I am aware of so I pointed them to give me something on that subject. So Charles Harding is a great diary writer and historian, so he was obvious. His wife Margaret Harding has a fantastic knowledge of wildflowers and fungi. Julia Desch is the greatest brain on biodiversity. Peter Love is a world expert on vintage tractors; Briony Allen has a wit and an eye for nature and birds in particular, Safia Bowley is a yogi; Tim Brenchley is the greatest brain on car mechanics in Sussex; Patsy Walters loves and rescues animals more than humans; Mary Williamson is the Mary Berry of Bodle Street with her delicious cakes; Kerry Howell and Jill Pickering know all about horses.
Then out of the woodwork, more and more offers of articles came flooding in for March and I had to say Whoa! March is full, these will have to go in April.
Q: What can you tell us about articles and features in the pipeline for future editions?
A: It would be sensible to try and make The Bodle relevant in seasonal terms, so if it’s spring let’s do something on hedgerows or nest-building or bulbs for example. Ed Stroud and Olly Morgan will hopefully do a regular article on the natural world. There is a great one coming up on Lampreys! There must always be some humour in the magazine too and something promoting health and always mental health and a recipe and local interest. It was great to get an 18 year old ask to write an article, thank you Joel Lushington.
Q: It’s a great idea – making the initial copies free so that lots of people can get a feel for the magazine – but you clearly need to cover your costs over time. How can people support you now, by signing up for the full year’s publications?
A: Yes – to get the magazine off the ground, the first 3 editions of the Bodle (Feb, March and April) are being made available free to readers. From May 2021, the Bodle is subscription only (just £10 per annum) for a hardcopy, delivered to your door every month. If you want to be added to the delivery list, email firstname.lastname@example.org. And the band of volunteer distributors will deliver to everyone who has sent in their subscriptions. (If you wish to receive a copy by post, that’s an additional 66p per issue)
The readership is about 250 people, so this is a great opportunity for local businesses to advertise to their local customers – and also for small ads. One reader who put his advert in got a job from the very first edition which has more than paid for his £30 advert ! One of our readers has put us in touch with Sevenoaks Council printing service which has reduced our costs by £600 a year!
Q: Finally, what do you hope you will achieve for the community by creating this new channel for local news, information and human interest stories?
A: As I said at the beginning really, a reconnection with your local community, knowing there’s some great people out there just around the corner, willing to support you through their volunteering or maybe entertain through their writing. Also to find out more about the local area, how we can all increase our knowledge, do a bit to make the environment a better place to hand over to the next generation. And encourage people to send in ANYTHING! A snippet or a poem, an observation or a ‘for sale’! You don’t have to have any experience of writing, just enthusiasm or a willingness to share. Email them to email@example.com Or stick them in my letterbox. (Old Homestead, Chilsham Lane, BSG)