A WHISTLE-stop tour of the Forest by High Sheriff of Gloucestershire Sir Dusty Miller left him profoundly impressed and inspired by the community and its innovative projects.

Even a windswept Lydney Harbour failed to dampen his enthusiasm for Tom Davies’s HIPS community cafe and the ambitious plans already underway to make the area a tourist hotspot spearheaded by district council regeneration officer Richard Morgan.

The students at Lydney’s Dean Academy were also delighted to be given the chance to grill Sir Dusty about his prestigious flying career, his Top Gun planes and what his job as High Sheriff involved.

Sir Dusty joined the RAF in 1967 and became jet pilot eventually reaching the rank of Air Marshal.

Headteacher Richard Brand showed the well-equipped vocational classrooms and the school’s ability to embrace all abilities and disabilities.

An insight into the Forest’s Levelling Up agreement and what it means was given by Leader of the Forest Council Tim Gwilliam, chair Julia Gooch and County Council chair Alan Preest, who represents Lydney.

Then it was on to view the Five Acres site with its Hartpury University links for the Dean, followed by a polished presentation by Forest Builder Keith Bell’s granddaughters Nicola Bird and Natalie King who have set up a ground-breaking project at Cinderford’s Accxel Centre to train apprentices and all workers in the construction industry.

The final stop was another trail-blazing project instigated by Cinderford Town Council to turn a Grade II listed Methodist church into an all-embracing community facility, while retaining its church function.

Sir Dusty met the project co-ordinator Les Love and town Clerk Emma Bennett at The Wesley Centre in Belle Vue Road, where they explained that Levelling up funds had enable the council to take on the project of not only buying the building but refurbishing it.

The tour was organised by Vice Lord Lieutenant Roger Deeks, of Oldcroft, accompanied by Deputy Lieutenant and fellow Forester Viv Hargreaves.