Dr Barry Wood

Barry has a reputation for being a man who gets things done. Now that I have met him, I can quite see why. He gives the impression of having boundless energy combined with enthusiasm and drive and a man not easily deterred from his chosen plan of action.

He is originally from Derby, has lived in Henley since 1978 and recently moved to Peppard. He and his wife, Jenni, wanted to downsize; they wanted to be in the country and yet still near a sizeable town, and when they found the perfect house on Stoke Row Road the move became inevitable. It is a decision that he hasn’t regretted – he loves the area and finds the people extremely friendly and welcoming.

Never a man to stand on the sidelines, he has concerns about the area and felt the obvious thing to do was to join the Parish Council where he enjoys the work. It wasn’t his mission to become Chairman but when former Chairman, David Hammond, left the area and subsequently Tony Cotton stood down, Barry was happy to step into the role. He enjoys motivating people and, together with his belief in devolved decision making, he wants to lead a council where individual councillors have their own portfolios.

His concerns for his adopted area are increased house building and housing density with its concomitant traffic. He believes Peppard can support a small increase but a substantial increase could easily change the dynamics of the whole community. He is concerned about how the school will be rebuilt and how to raise the necessary funds. He wants to see our local pubs survive and thrive and he also wants our commons protected. He fears that the recent boundary review did not finalise the issue and further proposals for boundary changes will occur in the future. He is fully committed to working for and on behalf of Peppard residents and hopes to continue as Chairman of the Council for some time to come.

He is no stranger to local politics having been a founder member of the Henley Residents’ Group, a South Oxfordshire District Councillor and a Henley Town Councillor culminating in his being elected Mayor for Henley in 2007. His wife, Jenni, shares his interests and she is currently the Deputy Mayor of Henley.

Whilst Mayor of Henley, he started the Henley Youth Council for young people of 10-18 years with the objective of their having a voice as councillors for their schools and in the community. Once it was established there was a total of 32 members and altogether 150 young people involved.

Barry is still very active in Henley – he is passionate about Townlands Hospital. He is one of the original members of the Townlands Steering Group set up in 2003 and is still a very active member of the committee.

He initially gained his degree in physics and mathematics and set out on the path of academia. However, commerce beckoned and he went into the engineering sector, specialising in vending machines primarily in hotels. He had wide and varied experience working for large multi-national companies and, at one point, lived in the United States.

In 1990, he was the General Manager of Engineering services for Coca Cola at the time and in a project to put vending machines into offices in the UK; it soon became apparent that the British preferred water to coke. The message was clear to Barry and he set up his own very successful business supplying water machines. He subsequently diversified – he was a Financial Adviser and then a Schools’ Inspector. Since 1994 he has inspected a total of 428 schools.

It is hard to believe that Barry has any time or energy left over for other activities but he does. He played both football and cricket seriously as a young man and remains an avid cricket spectator – so much so he and Jenni bought an apartment in Barbados some years ago so that he can enjoy watching Test matches in the sunshine.

 Rita Hadgkiss