August & September 2017

August

August is a quiet month in the Council calendar, with few meetings or activities, a time to have a break and take some holiday. The one Mayoral engagement of the month was to attend the Marlborough Mencap summer party on Sunday 20th at Kennet Valley Hall. A good time was had by all despite a few interruptions to the afternoon’s entertainments from the showery weather.

September

In contrast to August, September was to prove to be a very busy month with numerous meetings and engagements.

On Sunday 3rd September, after delivering presents for our 7-year-old Granddaughter’s birthday, it was off to Chippenham for their annual Civic Service which included awards for contributions to the community.

Monday 4th saw us get back to business, after the August break, with a full Town Council meeting.

On Tuesday the 5th we had an opportunity to view the new St Mary’s school on the day prior to its first school day. The staff and governors had clearly worked very hard to get ready in time and the school looked terrific. The young children of Marlborough, including three of our grandchildren, are very lucky to have such a nice school. I presented a cheque on behalf of the Town Council to the Head, Mrs Schwodler, to help with the cost of new IT equipment.

Cheque for St Mary's

Wednesday 6th was a Marlborough In Bloom meeting where we reflected on the previous year and started to think about 2018. This project is very important as it brings together community groups to enhance the appearance of the town, we go to Torquay next month to hear the results of this year’s judging, so fingers crossed.

A group of us attended the Market Towns Forum, in Ludgershall, on Thursday 7th with the Great West Way tourist initiative high on the agenda.

Also, that day, we held a meeting to discuss the progress on the Community and Youth Centre project in St Margaret’s Mead. This is a project that is dear to my heart having helped with Cllr Farrell to get the Youth Club going, it should provide a much-needed facility for a variety of community activities.

railings

Fresh air was in abundance on Friday 8th as we did a walking tour of some of the Town Council’s open spaces in Manton and around the cemetery, where we need to find some more space as it is nearly full.

The Jubilee Field at Manton

On Saturday 9th I went along to the ARK Big Picnic in another of our open spaces, Stonebridge Meadow, which has become a successful conservation project and a very nice amenity for Marlborough. It was certainly nice to buy honey from hives actually in the town!

The Mayor with Charlotte Hitchmough & Anna Forbes of ARK

Back to politics on Tuesday 12th as I attended the Cabinet meeting of Wiltshire Council to make a plea for us have a say in the future development and use of the old St Peter’s school site, to try and ensure that it is used to meet the needs of the community. I did get a sympathetic ear from Baroness Scott, so let’s hope for a good outcome.

A meeting of the toilets working party on the 13th where we started to look at phase two of the project that has seen the successful restoration of the public toilets in the George Lane car park.

Another Civic Service on Sunday 17th, this time in Royal Wooton Bassett. In fact there were three in Wiltshire that day but I could only attend one and have adopted a first come first served approach.

The following day, the 18th, I hosted a lunch for officers of 4MI Battalion, including their newly appointed commanding officer Lt Col Puxley. The army play an important role in our civic life and it is good to build a good working relationship. Later that day, some meetings to address concerns over social housing capacity in Marlborough with both Aster and Wiltshire Council, which confirmed our fears that the capacity is slowly reducing and needs to be replenished as demand is high.

Thursday 21st saw one of the more formal engagements of the year, a black-tie dinner with 4MI at the officer’s mess in Bulford welcoming Lt Col Puxley to the Battalion, a very enjoyable evening.

At Bulford

An evening with the younger age groups in the town on Friday 22nd with the annual presentation evening of the Penguins Swimming Club, a celebration of real achievements and an impressive array of cups and medals.

I was recently invited to become an honorary member of the Rotary Club, which I gladly accepted at a dinner meeting on the evening of the 25th. Rotary do a lot of good work raising money for worthy causes but also play an essential role in helping at local events like running the car parks at the Pewsey Carnival this month.

On Wednesday 27th I went to a Macmillan coffee morning, held at Free and Sons in the Parade, then on to the Jubilee Centre to present a cheque, on behalf of the Town Council, to Alzheimer’s Support which will help them to run their drop-in sessions in the town.

Cheque for Alzheimer's Support Drop-in Sessions

Friday 29th saw the start of Marlborough’s very popular Literature Festival and a flash mob dance by local school children, then in the evening the opening ceremony and a thought provoking talk by author Will Self.

Where the Wild Things Area

On top of all of the committees and meetings, that I also attend, a very busy month…phew!

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July 2017

This month started with the Mencap disco at the town football club, on the 1st of the month, a very enjoyable evening was had by all and there were some pretty impressive dance moves on show!

at Marlborough College with Swindon Borough Council's Mayor Maureen Penny

On the 5th July Marlborough played host to the Wiltshire and Swindon games which occupied most of the sports facilities at Marlborough College and the town leisure centre, a large and very impressive event. This gave young people from all over Wiltshire and Swindon the chance to experience a multi sports games camp for the day. I presented one of the swimming medals and went on to watch a vast array of sports. Not content with a whole day of sport I then proceeded to Marlborough Cricket Club in the evening for the Mayor’s Cricket Match. I opted not to play, which I was glad about when I saw the speed of Marlborough’s fast bowler, but was ably represented by a scratch team which included four members of 4MI Battalion. We put up a pretty good show but, unfortunately, lost by 50 runs. Still, we managed to raise £335 towards sports equipment at the new Marlborough St Mary’s School.

All the players

On Friday 7th July, it was off to the High Sherriff’s summer reception at Odstock Manor where I had a very interesting chat with archaeologist Phil Harding who told me about various holes that he had dug around Marlborough and what he had found there. He also informed me that, at one time, he had worked for Pelham puppets.

Marlborough Puppetry Festival - March of the Marionettes

Then to cap off a fairly busy week we had the Puppet Festival over the weekend of 8th/9th July. I really enjoyed the puppet parade on the Saturday morning despite parading in full gown in the heat. I was in absolute stitches with some of the antics in the parade especially when two of my grandchildren decided to join in and dance with the Punch and Judy puppets. This was also the weekend of the Marlborough Civic Service so we had a fairly unique event with puppetry in the service, I still can’t quite believe that we had muppets singing hymns but we did. I was accompanied by eight other Mayors and various other dignitaries who thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The day also included the puppet exhibition where I got to meet the original Muffin the Mule puppet, this meant a lot to me, it was my earliest childhood memory of television. A local dance school finished off the day with a show portraying the Bob Pelham story.

The Mayor and Muffin

Thursday the 13th July was the judging day for Marlborough in Bloom, the culmination of a lot of hard work by various members of the community. I met the judges fully robed and even wore the hat for the first time, I hope it made a suitable impression. This was followed by entertaining the judges to lunch for which we thank Rick Stein’s for donating that, I’m sure that made a good impression. They were then bid farewell in the afternoon, we await the results down in Torquay on the 5th October.

The final event of the month, as things started to quieten down for the Summer, was the Mayor’s Bowls match on Saturday 22nd July. We actually played skittles this year, which was probably a good thing given the weather. A very enjoyable evening and more money was raised for the Mayor’s charity fund.

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June 2017

half mast for london terror attack June 2017june 2017 terror attack

The start of June was a time very tinged with sadness in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London. Our flag was flown at half-mast twice, within a fortnight and I wrote letters of condolence, on behalf of the town of Marlborough, to the Mayors of Manchester and London. Then, the sombre mood continued with the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy. There was only one civic engagement scheduled in the first half of the month, the presentation of the Mayor’s Cup at the athletics event between Marlborough College and St John’s on the 6th June, but this was postponed due to thundery weather. It was later presented by Deputy Mayor Lisa Farrell when rescheduled.

alzheimers support

By contrast, the final part of June was very busy with almost daily engagements. On the 23rd we saw the formal opening of the Savernake View care home by Angela Rippon, who has done a lot of work with the Alzheimer’s Society.

mco june 2017

On the 24th June, we were guests at a concert by the Marlborough Concert Orchestra who gave a fine performance which included Dvorak’s New World symphony. Then, on Sunday the 25th, there was a choral evensong at Malmesbury Abbey which was attended by several Wiltshire mayors. The Abbey is a fantastic setting for such an event and it was very enjoyable.

The following morning, the 26th, was an early start to attend Kiwi Barracks in Bulford with Deputy Mayor Lisa Farrell for a briefing on the activities of 4MI Battalion, our adopted army unit. It was very interesting to hear about the many complex activities that they are engaged in around the world and quite rare to get over 100 of them together in one place. The morning ended with us judging their debating competition with the motion “Should serving generals sit in the House of Lords?”, (the motion was defeated!).

On Wednesday 28th June, it was a quiet day with Councillor training in the evening then on Thursday 29th the pace picked up again with the morning spent helping to clear out the old Youth Centre building to prepare for refurbishment as a Community and Youth Centre, a project that I hold dear. Then in the afternoon I chaired the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group and in the evening attended the Scout Council AGM at the George Lane scout hut.

The month ended with a tour of the new Marlborough St Mary’s school building on the afternoon of the 30th. A very impressive new building but it comes with no new equipment or furniture so fundraising is going on to try and raise the £75,000 needed to provide this. So far, they have raised over £37,000 but continue to work very hard to get ready in time for the new term in September.

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May 2017

Mayor Making 2017My term of office begins on the day of Mayor Making, Monday 15th May. Marlborough has a way of conducting this event that invokes the past and has a sense of drama. There is a great sense of history being the 707th named Mayor, a very long tradition. You get more and more nervous through the day as the evening approaches. Once it begins you are just carried along by it and it seems to go quite quickly. You follow the outgoing Mayor to the parlour, don the red robe and when you emerge back in to the throng you realise that you are now the Mayor and actually have a meeting to run! Fortunately, the Town Clerk, Shelley Parker, is on hand to make sure you do not forget anything. The celebrations that follow, with family and friends are then most enjoyable.

The next job, a week later, is to chair the first Town Council on 22nd May, more familiar territory this and all goes well.

The first engagement of my new role follows the next day, on the 23rd May, when I attend the AGM of the local branch of Mencap. An enjoyable evening and a relaxed introduction to the role. It is an honour and a privilege to be their President for the year. I'm told I will be judged on my disco dancing at a later event.

Wednesday 24th May is a busy day, first a drive to Devizes in the morning to meet up with members of one of my adopted charities, Julia's House. I was given a one-to-one tour of this new children's hospice julias house logobefore it becomes operational, in July 2017, and was amazed at the sophistication of the equipment and facilities. It will serve those in our community who are unfortunate in that they have a very sick child but we are truly lucky to have such a facility available and I hope it brings great comfort to those who use it. We will be organising a fund-raising event in Marlborough Town Hall later in the mayoral year.

Then, in the evening the Mayoress and I dress up to attend the Mayor making in Chippenham which has a 24-member Council. This was a good opportunity to meet some of the other new mayors from around Wiltshire for an informal chat and was an enjoyable evening.

half mast for ManchesterThis week has been somewhat overshadowed by the terrible events in Manchester on Monday 22nd. We joined in the minute's silence on Thursday 25th with the flag at half-mast and sent a letter of condolence to the Lord Mayor of Manchester.

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