Community, Creswell

Where are they now? Creswell couple living in China, helps clean up Scotland

Former Creswell residents John and Anne O’Connell are seen all the way in Scotland with Horizon’s John Cruickshank, left, as they help clean the beaches in April. Photo provided/The Bellman News

A former couple known locally for being active community members recently took a trip to Scotland to lend helping hands on Scottish beaches.
It’s not much of a surprise their philanthropic spirits have followed them overseas; from 1997 through 2016, John and Anne O’Connell were heavily involved in community volunteer efforts and organizations throughout town.
They have resided in Chengdu, China since 2016. Anne teaches at QSI International School of Chengdu, teaching chemistry and environmental sciences, and John teaches English at Hampson English.
People might remember the O’Connells from a number of functions. Anne was a former Creswell High School teacher of 20 years, wrote travel columns for The Creswell Chronicle, was a volunteer at Creswell food pantry and also ran the high school’s garden.
Others might recall Anne’s efforts with former Creswell City Councilor Adam Pellatt hanging military banners on Oregon Avenue lampposts. Anne also was on the committee to build the Ron Petitti Pavilion in Garden Lake park, and the couple still sponsors the Curtis Van Derson Scholarship at Creswell High School.
They love living overseas – especially in China, Anne said. ”There are 20 million people in this city,” Anne said, ”but it seems, for the most part, people are much calmer and more positive about the future here. Anne said that sometimes it is hard to find the natural world there in the midst of all those people, ”but they are putting a lot of effort into tree planting, parks and open spaces.”
The couple’s location allows for easy travel, Anne said. ”We have been to so many different places since we moved abroad: Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, Singapore, the UK and Bahrain.”
The O’Connells are part of an organization called ”Trusted Housesitters.” They travel to other peoples’ homes and take care of their pets while they are away.
”We were fortunate enough to get this housesitting gig in Aberdeen, Scotland over spring break,” Anne said. ”We went to Stonehaven to see the castle ruins and there were all these folks picking up trash along the beach, so we decided to help them.”
The couple, along with 80 other volunteers, combed through and bagged up 20 bundles trash on beaches in Stonehaven to ”Keep Scotland Beautiful” during its Spring Beach Clean initiative.
Volunteer litter-pickers are unheard of where they reside in Chengdu, China, as employment is mandatory and litter-picking provides much-needed jobs, John said.
Anne said she remembers helping clean up a beach in California, where huge amounts of debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami was washing ashore – including some debris from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.
While in Scotland, the O’Connells also went to one of the many stone circles in Inverugie, to Edinburgh Castle and the vaults and toured Aberdeen, Anne said.
Despite the adventures encountered on their travels, the O’Connells still have a soft spot for Creswell.
”What we miss the most from Creswell are our friends, clean air and being able to go into public places and hear English spoken,” Anne said. ”Oh, and the wineries!”

The Where are They Now Chronicle series catches up with former Creswell residents. Where are they now? What are they doing? Let us know! Email [email protected].



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