On 9th March 2023 — a very cold and drizzly afternoon, with snow flurries trying to carpet the road outside — about 30 ladies from Royston WI were transported to the world of the Mel through the Waterlight film.
Royston is a particularly appropriate setting for showing the film as the water that supplies the Mel originates as rain falling on the soft chalk hills surrounding the town. Today, the melted snow will percolate through the chalk to eventually emerge at the springs in Melbourn, the source of the Mel. In his introduction, Bruce Huett drew parallels with his experience of snow melt from the Himalayas supplying the rivers of Tibet, other parts of China and India.
Although Waterlight was not made as a campaigning film, audience members recognised links to national concerns about the general health of English rivers and mentioned the recent BBC programmes ‘Our Troubled Rivers’.
Following the screening, the Royston WI secretary e-mailed:
“Thank you again for coming to show your film and talk to us this afternoon. It was a very calm, peaceful watch, with beautiful music, as well as being very informative. I hope you could see how engaged all our ladies were. It made our afternoon very enjoyable”.
Bruce was again delighted to receive an account of someone who remembered playing in the river at Melbourn as a child, which was similar to accounts he had collected in ‘memory capture’ events with elderly residents in Melbourn and Royston. They had described swimming, paddling down the river in boats improvised from rubber tubes or barrels, fishing and generally messing about in the river or on the banks for whole days in the summer. Some of these accounts are on the Your Waterlight Stories page of this website and others can be found in the Mel pages at Meldreth History, The Story of a Cambridgeshire Village.
Others, who had visited the British Queen pub in Meldreth but had never taken the short walk across the field at the back to the river, now decided that on their next trip there they will definitely take a stroll along the Mel and visit the adjacent Melwood local Nature Reserve that is featured in the film.