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I have created a table to house basic information for putting into an email (subject, intro etc). I will call this EMAIL. I have created a child table to house the content for emails, so each EMAIL object can have one or more CONTENT objects.
I have created a many-many relationship between CONTACT and EMAIL via another table called LINK.
I have two email templates. One is 'Custom' and as follows. This works fine, when I trigger it (by adding a LINK object),  I get an email send to my Contact with both the expected merge fields filled in.
Dear {!CONTACT.FirstName}, Intro: {!EMAIL__c.Introduction__c}
However, I have a second template created using Visualforce (below). If I switch my email alert to use it instead, then perform the same action to get the email to be sent to a Contact, neither the Contact's Name or the EMAIL Introduction is merged in! Also note that, if I use this template and 'Send Test and Verify Merge Fields', entering my Contact and EMAIL ID causes the merge from both objects to work perfectly! Can anyone offer any advice?
<messaging:emailTemplate recipientType="Contact"
    subject="ed test 3">
    <messaging:htmlEmailBody >
            <p>Dear {!recipient.name},</p>