It was a cold, gloomy day when I went to interview Dominic, nevertheless, he was in the garden turning his compost heap.
Gardening is just one of his many passions: with his wife, Celia, they grow their own produce and, although not vegetarian, they aim to be self-sufficient in vegetables during the summer months. They also plan to keep their own chickens.
Even harder work than the garden is the log splitting that is required to feed their wood burner, although he does use a mechanical wood splitter. Dominic enthusiastically showed me his system for both the central heating system and heating the water, all fed from the wood burner. It certainly keeps him busy as nine tons of wood a year is necessary.
A local man, Dominic was born and brought up in Henley, he went to Gillotts and then Henley College. He and Celia lived in the centre of Henley before deciding they wanted more space and the freedom to roam for their growing family. Eight years ago, this brought them to Peppard where they completely renovated and expanded an old cottage with close proximity to one of the commons.
It is important to him to be involved in the community; in Henley he was company secretary for the Chiltern Centre for Disabled Children and, once in Peppard, he volunteered at the cricket club to coach children from a wide area. He has coached the same group as Under 6s and now, as Under 12s, he has had the satisfaction of watching them grow and develop. He encourages his own three children to play and is very keen that they should value being part of a team. He also plays for the club himself although he claims to play very badly.
Dominic joined the Parish Council two years ago. Working full-time, he gives as much time as he can and, as well as the monthly Council meetings, he is on the Finance Sub-Committee.
Two causes are close to his heart; firstly, he wants to do anything he can to help our school. Secondly, he loves the commons and the countryside around us. He admires the achievements of the Conservators on the commons in opening up glades but would still like to see more diversity; as a youngster he remembers more birds and butterflies. One thing that upsets him is to see litter and fly tipping despoiling our village. He believes the Council should strive to maintain the beauty of the area and fight against over-development.
He enjoys working at this local level and finds it is possible to help residents and overcome bureaucracy simply by taking the time to chat and then, perhaps, co-ordinating with both SODC and OCC. With a three-hour daily commute to Surrey, he is, nevertheless, totally against a third Reading bridge. He fears the impact it would have on the whole of South Oxfordshire.
Trained as an accountant, he works for a British manufacturer fulfilling large, global, mainly government, contracts. As Head of Ethics, he is ultimately responsible for maintaining his company’s global standards in ethics and ensuring that safety and environmental standards are met and the code of conduct is adhered to. Working internationally, he supports employees in making ethical decisions and embedding responsible business practices.
Even with all the demands upon his time, when he was asked to join Ethical Reading because of his background and experience, he agreed. It exists to help local organisations do the right thing by each other, the wider community and the environment, and to thrive in the process.
At the end of our very interesting conversation, I left Dominic to pull his wellington boots back on and return to his compost heap.