Villy has been a resident of Brabourne and Smeeth for the past 35 years and even before living here she was a frequent visitor to the village, where The Plough was a favourite gathering place for her and her friends. Having grown up as a Dutch national with cosmopolitan parents who travelled all over the world, she now considers herself Anglo-Dutch European. “Our stay in Mountbatten Way was meant to last only a couple of years”, she says, “but the village made us so comfortable, we just never left.” Although she eventually moved house, she made sure to stay within walking distance of the heart of the village and the countryside that she had grown to love.
When asked to join Smeeth Parish Council in 2013, she was flattered but also not sure what this would entail. “I was completely naïve about local government. I felt sure that I was only asked because they could not think of anyone else, so I accepted, not wishing to let anyone down.” She says she spent the first year or so just listening, reading and asking question after question, learning. “It was great to feel part of a very positive team, with everyone bringing their own experience and expertise to the table. Although we don’t always agree on everything, we all know that we want to achieve what is best for the parish and its people.”
Villy considers planning considerations to be an important and integral part of the role of a Parish Councillor, as their impact is often more direct and far-reaching than some of the seemingly smaller issues that the Council gets involved with. But she is equally aware that often those issues that seem small to some are enormously important to those who are directly affected. She says: “And that is how I see our role: to represent the village as a whole and help it to remain a great place for people to live, work and play.“