December Mayoral Musings
As expected, December was a very busy month. It all started off with the Edwardian Evening in the Town on the 5th December. An event not to be missed. For the first time, the event was run by "Everything Okehampton" and they did a fabulous job getting the lights and trees put up and arranging all the entertainment. We had a great time singing Carols outside St James' Chapel with our Silver Band playing their hearts out. This was swiftly followed by an invitation to attend a fabulous concert by the Exeter Youth Orchestra in Fairplace Church entitled "Christmas by Candlelight". The standard of playing was incredibly high and included young people from Okehampton - some of whom had started out playing with the Music Centre which is run by Community Links CIC in Okehampton.
A couple of evenings later I was at the Okehampton Excelsior Silver Band Christmas Concert in the Charter Hall which was great fun. On Monday 9th December I presented a couple of cheques. One to the Okehampton United Ecclesiastical Charity towards the maintenance of the clock at St James' Church and the second to the Okehampton Air Cadets which will be used to purchase essential IT equipment.
On Wednesday 11th December, I went along to the Okehampton United Charities Celebration Evening. As Mayor, I am a Trustee of the Charity and so had the privilege of presenting some certificates to the young people from Room 13 who had either achieved or were working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. The following day, I popped into the Library to listen to children from Bridestowe and Exbourne Primary Schools singing carols as part of their Christmas Coffee Morning. It was lovely to share coffee and mince pies with some of those who volunteer at the Library and work so hard to provide this vital service to Okehampton and the wider community. On Friday 13th December, I was invited along to "A Night of Music" presented by the Friends of Okehampton Library. This was a lovely evening of entertainment which was very well supported.
On Sunday 15th December my first event of the day was to a Christmas Service being held by Inspiration Church. This service is run by the members of the church and they all turned up dressed as people from the Nativity. The Nativity Play itself had been written and was narrated by a couple of the young people and the church members were all very involved in the performance. In the evening I was invited to a Christmas Civic Service in Holsworthy. This was entitled "A Festival of Nine Lessons with Carols to Celebrate the Nativity of our Lord". Again, lots of young people took centre stage throughout.
On Tuesday 17th December I was invited to the Christmas Lunch of the Okehampton Friendly Circle which was a time of good food, good fun and good company. In the evening I went along to the Major Awards Evening held by Okehampton College in the Octagon Theatre. This event celebrated the successes of the many students from the College who had excelled in their field at either GCSE or A Level plus those who have faced considerable personal challenges and come through them.
My final event of the year was going along to the Okehampton Wellbeing Singers Christmas Concert. There was plenty of audience participation and great fun. The singers are very enthusiastic and all are welcome to go along to their weekly meetings on Fridays in the Ockment Centre. No previous singing experience necessary!
By the time you read this, we will be in early January. I should like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year and to thank each and every one for all that you do for the community of Okehampton.
November Mayoral Musings
The Plume of Feathers hosted a buffet and concert of folk music on Saturday 2nd November in aid of the Mayor's chosen charity OkePADS. The performers very generously gave their time for free and people came from far and wide to enjoy an evening's entertainment for a good cause. Many thanks to the local businesses who donated raffle prizes and to all those who worked so hard to make it a roaring success. The grand sum of £490.71 was raised, all of which will go to OkePADS to enable them to continue to provide free training to the community in CPR and the use of defibrillators.
On Sunday 3rd November, I went along to the Launceston Town Council Civic Service by kind invitation of their Mayor. Whilst there, I had opportunity to chat to the MP for North Cornwall who continues to support the re-instatement of a passenger rail service between Okehampton and Exeter. All the MP's in our area have been very engaged in working together with OkeRAIL behind the scenes to get this line re-established.
On Sunday 10th November, I joined with everyone else as we remembered the fallen by taking part in the Remembrance Day Parade and Service at All Saints. This is organised by the Royal British Legion every year and is a key date in the calendar where the town comes together in an act of remembrance. I was privileged to be invited to read the names on the Roll of Honour at the Memorial from the two Great Wars and Afghanistan and to light a candle. 'For your sacrifice we will be eternally grateful - Lest we Forget'.
Monday 11th November, I attended the funeral of Mr Michael Morse who was a previous Mayor of the Town. I had the opportunity to sit and listen to the lovely memories that his family, friends and neighbours have as they chatted about things they had done together. My thoughts and prayers are very much with his wife and family at this difficult time.
Towards the end of the month, I was invited along to a 'Music Centre' Concert being put on by Community Links SW in the Octagon Theatre. This was to showcase all that their students have learnt over the term and was of a very high standard. Young people from Okehampton Primary and the College took part playing a multitude of different instruments. Lots of justifiably proud parents and teachers - a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
During November, I presented two cheques on behalf of Okehampton Town Council. One was in support of our local Community Transport Group which does such sterling work in the town and wider community. The second cheque was for the Armed Forces Veterans Breakfast Club which is a social group that meets monthly in the town and is open to all members of the armed forces - whether they are still serving or not.
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!
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