After an August summer rest in hot and sunny Spain, I rushed back from Bristol Airport on the last day of the month to a luncheon for the Macular Society held in the Methodist Hall. We were entertained by the Kennet Singers and all invited to sing along.
Wednesday, 2nd September - Ongoing co-ordination meeting about our Marlborough Christmas Lights Switch-On. This takes place on Friday, 20th November. All coming together well but, we could do with some more able-bodied volunteers to support the Rotary Club in manning the road closure barriers.
Friday, 4th September - I was invited to the Youth Centre and was able to see Cllrs Farrell and Cook keeping an eagle and watchful eye on 60 youngsters aged between 8 - 15 years who were very much enjoying a beautiful September evening. Some were using council play equipment, Cllr Cook was playing football with the boys and Cllr Farrell multi tasking, keeping her charges happy and organising her supporters and volunteers. On top of that we were all treated to a BBQ.
I was shown around the premises which offer great potential - there was even a fully stocked Tuck Shop which proved very popular. What will be needed is perhaps more equipment for the darker evenings.
Saturday, 5th September - Marlborough Gardening Association Show, an important annual event for the green fingered and where I was invited to present the prizes. I also presented a cheque for £300 – a Town Council grant to the Association. Entries to the vegetable classes were noticeably down on previous years but, one competitor, Nigel Elliott, managed to sweep the board, winning 10 cups and showing what can be achieved. Crafts and flowers were well represented with my own Paper Mache Otter being awarded a Highly Commended.
Monday 8th September - We started the meeting early at 6.30pm with Dr Nick Maurice giving a presentation on Marlborough becoming a Fairtrade Town. He received a warm reception and then it was onto the Full Council agenda with 22 items. Then, the Planning Committee and with it all ending at 9 55pm. So, some very weary Councillors!
Tuesday, 9th September - A MENCAP committee meeting with dates already flying around for Christmas parties and a Pantomime visit to Bristol to see Snow White and the 7 dwarfs.
Wednesday, 9th September - A meeting with 4 Ml Battalion, the Royal British Legion, the Police, Highways and Councillors to discuss November’s Remembrance Day Parade and Armistice Day. Both of these events are important ones for the Town Council.
Friday, 11th September - I presented a Town Council grant cheque to the Alzheimer’s Support group at its meeting in the Conservative Club. We were treated to a talk from a retired Fire Officer who gave an amusing account of his career. This group loyally look after their loved ones and they need support and time for themselves.
Sunday, 13th September - The Mayor’s Charity Concert at St Peter’s Church. The generosity of Berendina Cook & Matthew Stanley in performing their classical piano recital was hugely appreciated. It was a very special occasion, a great success and enjoyed by all who attended. It also raised over £3,000 with generous donations for the Brain Tumour Charity. This was a very worthwhile effort and my thanks go out to all who not only helped but, those who supported this event too.
Wednesday, 16th September - Today, to Trowbridge with other Councillors and representatives from towns all over Wiltshire for the a Market Towns Network Meeting. We listened to speakers talking about advances in technology which will spearhead the way for all councils and commerce.
Friday, 18th September - I was invited by St Peter’s Junior School to their assembly to present certificates for the painting competition on the theme A Day in the Park. In all, I judged about 100 paintings. I felt privileged to sit through the assembly as teachers each awarded one of their pupils as ‘Star of the Week.’ The pupil came out to the front to talk to us about their achievement. I was so impressed by the ethos of St Peter’s and the encouragement given to all students to keep on trying. I was then invited to talk to the children. Naturally, I praised their artistic achievement, encouraging them to always have a go then presented the certificates on behalf of the Town Council and Marlborough in Bloom. I also gave out 2 tins of sweets which were very readily accepted!
Saturday, 19th September - Bingo evening with Mencap. This was not a game I had ever played before so it needed my considerable concentration. The event was well attended with Cllr Loosmore as Chairman and Sarah Hart and her family supporting it all. Thanks go to Mr and Mrs Bundy for co-ordinating it – a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Sunday, 20th September - The Old Victorian Cemetery. Six of us met up and tried out our new tools - Cllr Dobson and I both had a test drive with the strimmer! We dug up brambles too. The grass was rather soggy and difficult to cut short but, we are hoping that Richard's team will be able to mow what we have cleared so we are able to maintain progress. We now await the arrival of our bulbs so we can have a planting session and have something to look forward to in the spring.
Wednesday, 23rd September - It was a lovely September day when Cllr Hannaford-Dobson and I headed south to Dartmouth, the day before the presentation for South West in Bloom. We arrived at the picturesque harbour, drove through the quaint little town to find our B&B, The Paper Moon. We were staying with the Mayor of Dartmouth, Cllr Rob Lyon and his wife which was very convenient and we were able to walk with them to the evening reception. The Sergeant-at-Arms saw to the safety of the Mayoral chain. We arrived at the Britannia Naval College the following morning. What an impressive building, looking towards the harbour, portraits of great Admirals hanging imposingly on every wall.
Perhaps a little disappointment that we did not leave with armfuls of trophies but, certainly plenty of plaudits and we also retained our Silver Gilt status presented to us by Jonathan Dimbleby. We were so pleased to hear that the It's Your Neighbourhood awards went well and were delighted that The Lamb Inn picked up third prize for the best floral display for a pub in our region. I was very proud to collect the Thriving certificate on behalf of the Old Victorian Cemetery.
Saturday, 26th September - I was invited to open OKA at Froxfield. This store had had a fire last year and was re-opening in style. I was invited to cut the ribbon and was presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Cocktails were served to all and I was given a tour of the showrooms - I was certainly I impressed and hope to take my granddaughter there to buy her birthday gift.
Saturday evening saw me at St John's Academy for a fund raising concert, the proceeds of which were for Help for Heroes and Hope and Homes for Children, two very worthy causes. The different choirs put in a tremendous amount of effort with the children from Kennet Valley and Oare Primary school perhaps just stealing the show with their enthusiasm. It was an excellent programme with some fine soloists including David Dudley giving us a Frank Sinatra routine. Fiona MacArthur performed a Mezzo Contralto, Nicola Evans gave a rendering of Amazing Grace and Sarah Allport played an aria on the saxophone. The evening finished with all performers singing from Les Miserables. Both Jo Sutton (Hope and Homes for Children) and Natalie Williams (Help for Heroes) both gave an account of their charities.
Sunday, 27th September - A fund raising Jazz lunch for the Wilts Community Foundation's Surviving Winter. This charity raises money for people, especially the elderly, living in fuel poverty and perhaps struggling to survive. The late September sunshine was lovely and we enjoyed drinks outside before being treated to music from a young jazz group and its musical director whilst we ate lunch in the marquee.
Wednesday, 30th September - I had a shock when this pigeon decided to visit the Council offices in the High Street without opening the window first. You'll be relieved to know the pigeon was rescued, checked over and released, a little dazed but otherwise unharmed. All in a day's work!
Saturday 1st August
I was delighted to be invited to attend the MENCAP skittle night at Marlborough Football Club. The event was attended by approximately 40 members and carers. Councillor Alec Light also attended.
Everyone took their turn bowling and I managed to knock down four skittles while one member knocked down a very impressive seventeen. So my skills must lay elsewhere.
A raffle was held and drawn by the Mayor and a light buffet was served. Everyone agreed it was a very enjoyable evening.
Monday 3rd August
I attended the 25th anniversary of the Kennet Community Transport, which was held at the Jubilee Centre. On arrival I was greeted by Councillor Kirk Wilson busy putting up silver balloons in readiness for the celebrations.
Mrs Joyce White, Councillor Stewart Dobson, Councillor Marian Hannaford-Dobson and Councillor Bryan Castle - all former Mayors - also attended. We were treated to a delicious tea of homemade coffee sponge, my favourite.
The Mayor presented a certificate on behalf of the Town council and congratulated the organisation for their dedication and committment to the local community.
Councillor Kirk Wilson replied talking a little on the history of the organisation. He also thanked Mr Robert Hiscox for his generous offer to install air conditioning for the benefit of the passengers. A toast was proposed to the next 25 years.
Thursday 6th August
I attended the Marlborough Floral Club Summer Lunch celebrating their 45th anniversary in the Village Hall, Mildenhall. The President Mrs Phyllis Broadway is a long standing member having been a keen flower arranger for at least 35 years.
I was greeted by the Chairman Mrs Wendy Jordan. The theme of the day was blue and there were beautiful blue heads of Hydrangeas as floral arrangements on each table.
We had a delicious cold lunch with fresh fruit salad. After lunch we were treated to a demonstration by the florist Sarah Styles (who has recently opened her own shop) on how to create a summer wreath with subtle pink and mauve colours which, was later raffled.
The celebration cake was cut by the Chairman.
The Mayor was on a well-deserved holiday during the later part of August
Wednesday, 1st July. I was invited to The Marlborough Brandt Group’s AGM where Director, Dr Nick Maurice, gave a rousing speech. Gambian members of the MBG partner organisation, the Kombo Sillah Association, based in Bristol were there as well as students from Marlborough College and St John’s Academy. A thought provoking address was given by Dr Isatou Touray of Gamcotrap on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This sensitive issue cannot be swept under the carpet but, has to be an ongoing campaign through education to communities to overcome the prejudice of tradition.
Thursday, 2nd July. I was invited along to the Marlborough Scout Group’s AGM and listened to a talk on Child Sex Exploitation (CSE). There were also two young scouts, Megan and Mel, giving a preview of their forthcoming trip to Japan for a Scout Jamboree. What fabulous work our scouts and their leaders do.
Friday, 3rd July. Alongside fellow Councillors, members of staff and a representative from the police, the Mayor’s Chaplain, Dr David Campbell and I read prayers. We stood for 1 minute’s silence in respect of those victims of the terrorist attack in Tunisia the week before. The flag was flown at half mast.
Sunday, 5th July. We had been gearing-up for Alice’s Enchanted Picnic for weeks. This took place in Priory Gardens and was to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lewis Caroll writing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I made a Herald Rabbit and he stood at the entrance looking very regal!
The weather was kind to us and a large crowd gathered - Mums, Dads and Grannies too. All watched wonderful performances from the Marlborough Academy of Dance and Drama. The younger students danced as little white rabbits and the older ones gave us an interpretation of the lost Alice through jazz dance.
Anna Friend, our Artistic Director, co-produced the whole event with MTC. Her enthusiasm enabled her drama students to enter into the spirit of the Lewis Carroll story. They wore amazing costumes which really portrayed their individual characters as they mingled with picnickers and enjoyed the occasion. Wilton lent us some beautiful painted boards of Alice scenes which all helped to create the perfect atmosphere. Cllr Alexander Kirk Wilson and Richard Jones, one of our MTC groundsmen, wore white rabbit suits and collected money for the Mayor’s Charity.
We appreciated all support given us, particularly the sponsorship from Tesco, all of which helped to make Alice’s Enchanted Picnic such an enjoyable community and family day.
Monday, 6th July saw a Marlborough in Bloom community clear-up day where I with other volunteers pruned roses, hoed weeds in the Priory Gardens, and weeded cobbles in Patten Alley and litter picked throughout the town.
Wednesday, 8th July gave us a walk around Cooper’s Meadow with the new User’s Group. We took on board views and suggested improvements to the area, while looking too to protect the habitat of the water vole, a protected species.
Tuesday, 14th July. We all stood on the Town Hall steps waiting for the South West in Bloom judges, Jane Pagano and Kim Parish, to arrive. They were greeted with the Town Crier's welcoming voice ringing in everyone's ears and the bells of St Mary's also adding to the day's excitement.
The judges watched a photographic presentation by Eric Gilbert and listened to a running commentary by our Town Clerk about all the community work going on in Marlborough and its beautiful areas, with the High Street leading the way with its colourful baskets and tubs. The judges were then escorted around Marlborough by Anne and our Grounds and Estates Manager, Richard Beale.
With our In Bloom Chairman, Anne Crawley, dressed all in lemon and your Mayor in lime, citrus colours were the in-vogue colours for this year's theme. The little citrus touches in shop windows encouraged by new committee member, Diana Cooper, were evident. One shopper was overheard commenting that the shops certainly like citrus coloured clothing! Lots of window displays included small bouquets of flowers and bowls of lemons too.
A special champagne lunch was generously donated by the Polly Tearooms and a vintage Rolls Royce, complete with chauffeur, drove the judges on to see the It's Your Neighbourhood projects.
It was a fine day and the judges enjoyed seeing what Marlborough in Bloom was capable of achieving with community involvement. It only leaves me with judging the childrens' paintings from St Peter's school.
We are all now waiting until 24th September to hear what our efforts have scored.
Friday 17th July My Mace Bearers escorted me to the Castle & Ball to join the celebrations and opening of this year's International Jazz Festival. Councillor Nick Fogg welcomed everyone, and my Chaplain, Rev Dr David Campbell, offered up a prayer which sounded very much like a song, cleverly using the words from a well known ABBA song! The BBC's Young Jazz Musician of the Year, Alexander Bone, officially opened the event and St John's Academy Jazz Band played too, which was appreciated by all.
In the evening I enjoyed a reception in the magnificent garden at the Merchant's House hosted by Wiltshire Life.
Thursday, 30 July - The Mayor’s Team versus Marlborough Cricket Club.
The Mayor’s team arrived slightly shambolic but, enthusiastic on a lovely summer evening at Marlborough Cricket Club and ready to take on the opposing team.
Some team members arrived without any cricket gear, one Councillor looking as if he had just stepped out from the Indian Raj and (I suspect) neither one having much knowledge on how to play or the rules of the game.
We were fortunate to have 2 members from 4MI Battalion to add gravitas and give some format to the batting order. The opposition were in first and we made some fine catches but their hitting prowess proved to be too good and they soon chalked up runs which was never going to be easy to beat.
Cllr Cook, when he could find some pads that actually fitted him, managed to hit a respectable 6 and avoided having his teeth knocked out from flying balls. We had hoped to have put Cllr Kirk Wilson in as the night watchman but, as he was bowled out in style for a duck it was not to be. The Marlborough Club team played very well and deserved their win. The game was played in good spirit and I presented the cup and thanked Marlborough Cricket Club for their invitation asking for 3 cheers for the Mayor’s Team who had played to the best of their ability.