October Mayoral Musings
What great fun with the Get Changed Theatre Company who performed 'Never say Never Again at Casino Royale' on Friday 4th October! They wrote the piece themselves and gave a very polished performance in the Ockment Centre. Lots of singing and dancing and very, very entertaining.
On Saturday 5th October, I was invited along to the launch of the newly formed Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Club which is held on the first Saturday of the month in Tina's Kitchen behind the King's Arms. It is open to all who are still serving or are veterans and is designed to be a place where people can meet together for friendship and mutual support. I could only stay for a short while as I was due at the Okehampton Community Transport Group coffee morning where the new 'Intouch Oke' was being launched by CVS. 'Intouch Oke' is a guide to the information and support within the Okehampton area and takes the form of a small, easy to use folder containing emergency telephone numbers as well as separate inserts detailing sources of local information. The pack will be regularly reviewed and updated and you can pick up a free copy from many public places in the town including the Town Hall.
The afternoon of Sunday 6th October saw me at the Mayor of WDBC's Civic Service which was being held in Okehampton at Fairplace Church. It was good to see lots of Civic Leaders from all over the county visiting our lovely town.
The Mayor of Okehampton, together with the Mayor of Tavistock, is always invited along to the official opening of Tavistock Goose Fair on 8th October. Free rides are given to primary school children until 7pm on that evening and it was lovely to be able to take part in such an historical event for the town.
On 17th October, I was invited along to the Duke of Edinburgh Expedition Presentations being made by those working towards their Gold and Silver Awards. The young people taking part were truly inspirational and gave excellent presentations highlighting their experiences on their expeditions. The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme gives participants a remarkable opportunity to build their self-confidence, become more resilient and learn how to work together as a team while having a considerable amount of fun.
Okehampton Carnival is always a highlight in the annual calendar and this year was no exception. The day dawned a bit wet but soon brightened up and we had fabulous weather all the way through. The Carnival Committee work incredibly hard to make the event such a success and it was wonderful to see so many people enjoying the day. Despite someone taking it upon themselves to steal the generators for the Prince & Princess' float, a very kind person came forward and saved the day. Congratulations to all those who won their classes and thank you to everyone who took part. There were some very creative floats and costumes which were a joy to see. At a personal level, having enjoyed the Okehampton Carnival myself from early childhood, it was a real privilege to be able to take part in the procession as the Mayor in a beautiful classic car especially lent for the occasion.
On Thursday 24th October, I spent a very interesting half hour with the Chairman of the Okehampton & District Tennis Club. He, and his team, are absolutely dedicated to the Tennis Club and are working very hard to keep the courts in good order and at the necessary high standard. They run all sorts of different sessions, so whether you are a complete beginner, an expert or someone who played in the past, then you will find a session that will suit you.
September Mayoral Musings
It was a joy to celebrate with the Okehampton Columbine Ladies Hockey Club as they commemorated their Centenary on Saturday 7th September. Members of the club were very keen to pay tribute to a couple of their long serving volunteers who have invested so much of their time, skills and energy into the Club and had written a speech which I was privileged to deliver together with presenting an award. There is a wonderful historical display that has been put together which features a lot of faces of Okehampton who will be recognised by many people.
Simmons Park has just been awarded 'Much Loved' status in the Fields in Trust UK Best Park 2019 awards which is very exciting. I, along with other councillors and staff, was joined by members of the public to celebrate this wonderful achievement on Thursday 12th September in the Park. We have a brilliant team who work incredibly hard to make our Park such a fantastic space and that has clearly been reflected in the number of votes cast by those who love and enjoy Simmons Park.
I popped up to Okehampton Station on Saturday 14th September to welcome the newly named 'Okehampton Castle' Class 255 Locomotive that was running a trip to Weymouth. This has been organised by OkeRail who are working hard to get a regular passenger service between Okehampton and Exeter re-instated.
On Sunday 15th September, I held the annual Civic Service in Fairplace Church. This is always preceded by a Parade through the Town Centre very ably led by our very own award winning Excelsior Silver Band. The Parade and Service are a tradition that goes back hundreds of years and it is a real privilege to be part of tomorrow's history. I am so very grateful for all those who helped in organising the event and ensuring it ran smoothly. It takes a big team and everyone is a volunteer, so thank you very much.
There are several new independent shops that have opened in Okehampton recently and I was privileged to be invited to the Official Launch Event for Dogberry & Finch Books in St James Street on Saturday 21st September. It is a wonderful shop with a huge selection of books that are suitable for adults and children. There was a very interesting talk by Alan Lee who is an Oscar winning Tolkien illustrator and film conceptual designer. He worked on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and brought Gandalf's Staff with him which he had designed.
On Saturday 28th September, I arranged a Coffee Morning in the Charter Hall in aid of my chosen charity, OkePADS. This was very well supported - especially given the inclement weather! I am so grateful to all those who helped out by donating their time and skills to make it such a successful event. A big thank you to everyone who provided a raffle prize and very special thank you to Annie and Minnow for doing the teas and coffees and Helen and Katie for running the raffle. All proceeds were for OkePADS and we raised an amazing sum of £187! Thank you to everyone who came along and contributed.
At the end of September I was invited to the Tavistock Mayor's Civic Service which was very well supported. It was held in St Eustachius' Parish Church which is an ancient building of significant historical interest in the centre of Tavistock.
During September, I presented two cheques on behalf of Okehampton Town Council. One was in support of our local Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme which does such sterling work with the young people of the town. The second cheque was towards the maintenance of Meldon Viaduct that is such a recognisable heritage asset to the area.
August Mayoral Musings
On Friday 2nd August I greeted representatives from the Paul Lavelle Foundation as they were cycling from Lands End to John O'Groats. The Foundation was set up in memory of their friend, Paul Lavelle, who died as a direct result of domestic abuse. The purpose of the bike ride was to raise awareness that men are on the receiving end of domestic abuse as well as women and children. Paul's son, Joe, presented me with a glass plaque engraved with 'In Friendship and Remembrance' which is displayed in the cabinet in the Reception office at the Town Council. Domestic abuse can affect anyone, be it physical, emotional or psychological and happens behind closed doors. If you identify with this in any way, then please do get in touch with Splitz Support Services who can help you. Their website is www.splitz.org/devon.
Thursday 8th August saw me at the 112th Okehampton Show as a guest of the President. For the last 111 years, the Town Mayor has traditionally opened the Show at 12 noon wearing the full civic regalia and supported by the Mace Bearers, Town Clerk and Town Councillors. After last year's Show, the Show Committee took the decision to no longer have an official opening ceremony so things were different this year. As the current holder of the Mayoral office, I should really like to pay tribute to all the past and present Councillors who have supported the Show so faithfully over the years. Of course, many of our current Councillors were at the Show in a personal capacity, taking their turn on the many local Charity stands as they have always done. Big congratulations to the Show Committee as the day was a huge success with lots of livestock, trade stands and plenty of local people and visitors alike - and the rain held off! There were two free shuttle buses running up from the Town Centre which really helped with the traffic.
On Monday 12th August I was privileged to meet a couple who had travelled to Okehampton with the sole intention of donating a clock that has been in their families' possession for a very long time to the town. The clock itself was made in 1728 by John Knottle who lived in Okehampton between 1723 and 1728. It is engraved with 'Oakehampton' on it. Much as we would have loved to have taken a photo of the presentation and put it into the paper, the donors were very clear that they wished to remain anonymous and this will be respected. The clock itself will be hung in the Chamber for visitors to see. It works and, when wound, chimes on every hour. Interestingly enough, it was built with an hour hand only. I am so very grateful for the generosity of the donors who simply wanted to see it returned to its home town.
I try to support as many Coffee Mornings in the town as I can on Saturdays. I was at the Community Archive one on the 10th and the Okehampton Carnival one on the 17th - both in the Charter Hall. At the same time, there was a Coffee Morning at Fairplace in aid of the Okehampton Branch of Cancer Research UK so, if you saw me dashing through town that morning, that is the reason why!
On Friday 23rd August I went along to the awards ceremony for Adventure 7. This was run by Adventure Okehampton, funded by Okehampton United Charities and organised by Okehampton Rotary - a truly community affair. The young people who attend are from Okehampton College and in Year 7. They get involved in all kinds of activities over a five-day period such as cycling; canoeing; gorge scrambling; high ropes and walking on the moor. They had a fantastic time and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
On Thursday 29th August the Shropshire Fiddlesticks performed a free public concert in the bandstand in the park. They are an Award winning Youth Folk Fiddle Band and my word, can they play! Every toe was tapping along and the music was very lively. The repertoire varied from Irish Jigs to Scottish Reels and French Ballads and pretty much everything in between!
Mayoral Musings for July
The Policy & Resources Committee has the privilege of awarding grants to local community organisations that benefit people who live in Okehampton. We live in a very rural area and have a wonderful network of volunteers who give up their time, energy and skills for the benefit of the community. By providing grants, the Town Council is thrilled to be able to play some part in supporting those groups. On Monday 1st July I was delighted to present the Manager of The Museum of Dartmoor Life with a grant to go towards their community activities and the running of the Visitor Information Centre.
The Mayor is traditionally invited to hold the position of President of the Okehampton Friendly Circle. They meet on the first Tuesday in the month and had their AGM on 2nd July which I was unable to attend due to a prior engagement. The Deputy Mayor, Cllr Michael Ireland, stepped in and did an excellent job. I understand that he discovered he had a hidden talent for playing Bingo!
One Sunday early in July, I popped across to Great Torrington as an invited guest to the Mayor's Civic Service. It was held in the recently re-furbished Town & Community Hall and was a lovely afternoon. When attending Civic Functions outside of their home towns, all Mayors wear their official chains which requires a substantial jacket to pin them on to as they are rather heavy. Whilst this lovely summer sunshine is glorious, it does make it rather hot! Did you know that a group of Mayors is collectively known as the "Chain Gang"? A couple of days later, I was invited to join the Mayor of Holsworthy in celebrating the St Peter's Fair which included the annual "Pretty Maid" Ceremony followed by a very welcome bite to eat and then it was a quick dash back to Okehampton to go along to the AGM of Tor Support Services. They are a remarkable charity that provide free counselling services to the young people who attend Okehampton Primary and College.
Thursday 11th July saw me at an incredible Art Exhibition at The Museum of Dartmoor Life. Some very, very talented children from Okehampton Primary School are holding an exhibition called "Floral Wonder". It runs from 11th July to 1st September and I thoroughly recommend a visit. The standard is amazingly high and the creativity and skill is phenomenal. The following Wednesday, I went along to the Cream Tea in the Charter Hall in aid of Cancer Research UK. What a wonderful team of volunteers who served the teas. All their hard work paid off with the enormous sum of £200 being raised - a huge thank you to everyone involved.
Mayoral Musings for July (2)
My next event was attending the Okehampton & District Community Transport AGM. They do wonderful work in providing transport for those who are unable to drive or use public transport. They are always looking for more volunteer drivers, so if this is something you think you could do, please do give them a shout. In the evening, I was invited to be the guest speaker at Okehampton Rotary Club. Again, this is another fantastic organisation in the town that does so much in terms of fundraising and support to other local groups.
We are all very much aware that there is a Climate crisis and Okehampton is no exception. On Tuesday 23rd July, there was a public meeting in the Ockment Centre called "Climate Crisis - what can we do?" This was called by a group of like-minded volunteers who are extremely concerned about the environment and it was very well attended. Okehampton Town Council has signed up to the Devon Climate Declaration and will be seeking to work with others on this vitally important matter. The Council itself has been taking steps over the last couple of years to identify and reduce its own carbon footprint and to work in a more environmentally friendly way and will continue to do so.
The Mayor sits on various trustee boards within the town as part of the role. The Charities of Holditch & Others, an ancient local charity within the town, has met its aims and objectives so the decision had been taken earlier in the year to wind the Charity up. On Wednesday 24th July the Okehampton Times came along to take a photo of the final presentation of cheques to those organisations who would benefit from the final grants. Congratulations to the Okehampton & District Community Transport Group; Age UK; Tor Support Services and Okehampton College who were the recipients.
My final event for July was attending the Bideford Regatta as the guest of the Mayor. The weather was glorious and it was lovely to be able to spend a rare afternoon sitting and watching the boats go by. Having said that, one or two hats blew off in the breeze and went into the river much to the amusement of the passers-by. They were all safely rescued with no harm done to the wildlife, hats or humans!
I had a meeting with the Plume of Feathers who are looking to put on a Folk Evening as a fundraiser for OkePADS on 2nd November. It has been fantastic to have so much support for the Mayor's Charity and it looks like it will be an exciting evening. More details to follow!
Tel: 01837 53179