This short message that will appear in the next edition of our village magazine, something I have helped to produce for over ten years, is probably the closest I will ever get to reading my own obituary:
“We would simply like to say publicly to Jacqui Brown, whose deep involvement in the village council, and more generally in our community, is known by us all, our regret that she will not be able to stand for election in 2020 (if she wished).”
This makes me sad. The French have been very proactive in encouraging communities with English immigrants to have a voice by electing someone to stand on their local council. They want us to do our bit, get involved, have our say, help out in our French community, but also to have a representative on hand to help out our fellow immigrants. I have been called down to the Mairie many times since the 2014 elections to help someone newer to the village who has a problem and may not have the language skills to understand what to do now.
The EU referendum vote in the UK will not mean that my village will chuck me out or stop me from volunteering or helping in the local community, but it will take away my voice. Immigrants are often criticised for arriving and not integrating in their new communities. My right to integrate as I am doing now, as a village councillor, is in jeopardy and once the UK has exited the EU, will be lost.
Democracy exists to enable change to happen and that must be viewed as a good thing. At present no one can be certain what these changes will mean for the future of the UK or Europe and I only hope that positive things emerge. The only certain is that things will not remain the same and my daily rights to live my life as I am doing now will be effected.
There will be challenging and worrying times ahead, but whatever happens and wherever I end up living, I know that this quirky little village in the middle of rural France has felt more like home to me than anywhere else I have ever lived.