A warm, personable and unpretentious man – that was my immediate impression of David Bartholomew. He only took office as our new County Councillor last week so his feet have barely touched the ground. He has already attended an induction day, his first full meeting on Tuesday and, in the same week, a full training day.
He lives in Shiplake but grew up in Hemel Hempstead where he met his wife at school. His first job was also there and he made several moves before eventually settling in this area. He was lucky enough to be in a position where he could choose where he lived and he and his wife agreed that Henley was where they wanted to be. They have subsequently lived here for 25 years, bringing up three sons.
In 1986 he set up his own advertising, design and marketing company and enjoyed enough success to enable him to cast his eye around for other opportunities and interests. He knew he wanted to do something different but wasn’t sure what. He was able to dedicate less time to work and make a commitment to his other great interest – politics. At the age of 56, he felt he wanted to change direction before he was much older and felt the urge to ‘do it now’. He was inspired by former Prime Minister John Major’s appearance at the Kenton Theatre last year and keenly remembers John Major saying that the socialists ask ‘What can we do to help?’, whilst the Conservatives ask ‘What can we do to help people to help themselves?’ This sums up the philosophy that David identifies with, hence, he stood as a Conservative candidate.
He decided upon the County Council as he felt this enabled him to be in a field that makes a real impact yet stays close to the community and environment. He carried out research to determine what would be involved and how much time would be required – obviously as a man still working he couldn’t devote all his time to any new role. In the event, the commitment is around one day per week.
He understands that with nine parishes he has his work cut out and during his election campaign he attended all their parish council meetings to help him know and understand his constituency – he also came along to the Annual Rotherfield Peppard Parish Council meeting.
Even in such short a time he has been co-opted onto two council committees – the Planning and Regulation Committee, and the Education Scrutiny Committee. Education is a major cause that he is passionate about – he believes that education is the most important thing in life: a good education can never be taken away.
Visiting parish council meetings is not David’s only way of getting to know the surrounding area. He loves cycling – with a club, with friends, or simply on his own. He has ridden most of, if not all, the highways and byways of South Oxfordshire and beyond. When not cycling, he enjoys indoor rowing and competes in the national championships. As if this is not enough to keep him fit, he joins in with the Wargrave and Shiplake Regatta.
Not a great traveller, David relaxes on holidays with his wife in Devon or Cornwall or they cross the Channel to France. This summer though, he hasn’t made plans yet because of his new role but he does hope to take a break in August. I hope David manages to find the right balance between work, politics and leisure and that his obvious enthusiasm isn’t diminished by life in politics.