Okehampton Town Council - Mayoral / Civic Page

The role of the Town Mayor

The Mayor is expected to attend all Council and Committee meetings. The Town Mayor automatically becomes a trustee of Okehampton United Charities, Okehampton Educational Foundation, Simmons Homes, and The Charities of Holditch & Others. On appointment the Mayor becomes the President of Cancer Research (Okehampton Branch) and President of the Okehampton Friendly Circle. The Mayor is an honorary member of the Okehampton Rotary Club during his/her term of office.

For those wishing to have the attendance of the Mayor at any function then please contact the Town Hall.

Councillor Bob Tolley, Mayor of Okehampton 2021-22

Cllr Tolley says "As newly elected Mayor I am honoured to contribute to the first issue of the Okehampton Town Council newsletter. I hope the publication, both virtual and hard copy, will provide an insight into the Council’s work, the answer to that often asked question, “what are the Council doing about it?” I am looking forward to meeting new people and adding my two pence worth to the newsletter over the next municipal year.”

Cllr Tolley's chosen charity for the year is Dream-A-Way, an Exeter based charity who help make dreams come true for Devon's children and adults with disabilities or life affecting health conditions.

Past Mayors from 1890


1890    John Dunning Prickman

1891    William Bird German

1892    George Longdon Fulford

1893    George Longdon Fulford

1894    Simon Peter Brendon Newcombe

1895    Simon Peter Brendon Newcombe

1896    Simon Peter Brendon Newcombe

1897    Thomas Jessop

1898    Thomas Folly Wood

1899    Robert Brealy

1900    Henry Geen

1901    Henry Geen

1902    William Rowse

1903    William Rowse

1904    William Bird German

1905    William Bird German

1906    William Bird German

1907    William Nettleship Hunt

1908    William Nettleship Hunt

1909    John Cornish

1910    John Cornish

1911    William Rowse

1912    William Rowse

1913    Edmund Hunt Holley

1914    Edmund Hunt Holley

1915    Edmund Hunt Holley

1916    Edmund Hunt Holley

1917    Edmund Hunt Holley

1918    William Brown Chamings

1919    William Bird German

1920    Brendon Ball Newcombe

1921    Brendon Ball Newcombe

1922    James Fugler

1923    George Kerslake Blatchford

1924    George Kerslake Blatchford

1925    George Kerslake Blatchford

1926    Percy William Edgcumbe

1927    Percy William Edgcumbe

1928    Albert William Coles

1929    William Brown Chamings

1930    William John Avery

1931    George Underhill Fulford

1932    William Brown Chamings

1933    William Brown Chamings

1934    William Brown Chamings

1935    Samuel James Rich

1936    Samuel James Rich

1937    Samuel James Rich (died 20/08/38)

            Norah Elizabeth Rich (elected 19/09/38)

1938    William Brown Chamings

1939    William Brown Chamings

1940    Harold Nicholas Brooking

1941    George Henry Gratton

1942    George Henry Gratton

1943    George Henry Gratton

1944    George Henry Gratton

1945    William Brown Chamings

1946    Walter Henry Passmore

1947    Walter Henry Passmore

1948    Walter Henry Passmore

1949    Walter Henry Passmore

1950    Walter Henry Passmore

1951    Harold Nicholas Brooking

1952    Charles Gwynda Jones

1953    Charles Gwynda Jones

1954    William Francis Brock

1955    Walter Henry Passmore

1956    Frederick Edward Compton

1957    Harry Reginald Horne

1958    Albert William Richmond

1959    Albert William Richmond

1960    Walter William John Cornish

1961    Walter John Passmore

1962    Clement Edward Whittaker White

1963    Clement Edward Whittaker White

1964    Clement Edward Whittaker White

1965    James Frederick Hayhurst

1966    James Frederick Hayhurst

1967    Ronald Ralph Taylor

1968    Ronald Ralph Taylor

1969    Clement Edward Whittaker White

1970    Clement Edward Whittaker White

1971    Henry Reginald Horne

1972    Walter John Passmore

1973    Walter John Passmore

1974    Clement Edward Whittaker White

1975    Margaret Ann Nash

1976    Martin Jeffers Cunliffe

1977    Peter David Woodgate

1978    Walter John Passmore

1979    Walter John Passmore

1980    Brenda Margaret Phyllis Savage

1981    Brenda Margaret Phyllis Savage

1982    Grace Irene White

1983    Edmund Victor Savage

1984    Edmund Victor Savage

1985    Joan Evelyn Pauley

1986    John Mallett Hughes

1987    John Mallett Hughes

1988    Walter John Passmore MBE

1989    Sylvia Westlake

1990    Sylvia Westlake

1991    Mary Alice Vick

1992    Sylvia Westlake

1993    Sylvia Westlake

1994    Sylvia Westlake

1995    Joan Evelyn Pauley

1996    Ebenezer Raymond Vallance

1997    Ebenezer Raymond Vallance

1998    Leonard James Hayward (died 01/04/99)

            Christine Marie Marsh (elected 14/04/99)

1999    Christine Marie Marsh

2000    Christine Marie Marsh

2001    Christine Marie Marsh

2002    Christine Marie Marsh

2003    Christine Marie Marsh

2004    Antony Leech

2005    Antony Leech

2006    Frances Margaret Luxton      

2007    Antony Frank Leech

2008    Kay Dawn Bickley

2009    David Arnold Weekes

2010    Michael Edward Morse

2011    Maureen Patricia McDonald

2012    Michael Bryn Davies

2013    Michael Bryn Davies

2014    Paul Richard Vachon

2015    Paul Richard Vachon

2016    Janet Goffey

2017    Janet Goffey

2018    Janet Carpenter

2019    Julie Yelland

2020    Julie Yelland

Mayor's News

Grant to the Museum of Dartmoor Life

On 24th May 2021 Mayor Bob Tolley presented the Museum of Dartmoor Life a chequee fro £3500 while cutting the ribbon to open the Museum for the 2021 season.

The Mayor said " As some of you  may know this is my first official engagement as this years Mayor. The venue is rather appropriate, in that if i cock it up, its the best place to make and exhibition of myself.

I must thank the trustees, staff and volunteers on hehalf of the town for hanging on in there, during the pandemic and being able to leap back into action so quickly to get teh museum "public ready" at this earliest opportunity.

I also note whilst you were closed some clever and innovative "YouTube" video ideas have been produced to ensure the educational aspect of your work, got to where it was needed in those difficult months. "

Mayor’s Update – January 2021.

So, here we are in 2021.  A brave new year stretches before us as pages of an unwritten book.  While our lives continue to be turned upside down, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon with the roll out of the vaccine with some people having already received it.  I am incredibly proud of our Okehampton community as we are all doing the very best we can to keep each other as safe as possible.  Thank you.


I was very saddened to hear of the sudden death of Mrs Maureen McDonald.  She was an active Town Councillor during her term of office and served as Mayor in 2011.   She was a well-respected member of the Council and when I joined in early 2014 she was very patient, kind and encouraging to me as I found my feet.  I am sorry that I am unable to attend her funeral due to the Covid restrictions and my sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers are with her family at this difficult time.


Since I last wrote, the exciting news has been announced confirming that a regular passenger rail service between Okehampton and Exeter will be re-instated.  Trains will run from the existing Station initially and, at the time of writing, Network Rail are working to bring the line up to the required standard.  The plan is for a second, new, Parkway Station to be built on the eastern edge of the town and land has been allocated by Devon County Council for this.  The re-instatement of the line will bring significant benefit in terms of sustainability, tourism and the economy to the wider area at a time when it is most needed.

Mayor of Okehampton, Cllr Julie Yelland, presents a cheque of £1,403.26 to James Stevens, Trus

Mayor of Okehampton, Cllr Julie Yelland, presents a cheque of £1,403.26 to James Stevens, Trustee of Okehampton PADS.    Cllr Julie Yelland, Mayor of Okehampton said ‘Each year, the town Mayor chooses a local charity to fundraise for during the year.  When I was selected to be Mayor in May 2019, I was already familiar with the work of Okehampton PADS and aware they were a newly established charity in the town who were very keen to train as many people as possible in the use of the Public Access Defibrillators.  The importance of the work they are doing is clearly recognised by the community and this was reflected in the support that was shown during the year’s fundraising events.’   James Stevens, Trustee, said ‘Okehampton PADs was formed in 2017 to support the funding and placement of defibrillators and free training for all in the local area. Until then there was no co-ordinated system ensuring the public of Okehampton had access to a public access defibrillator (PADs).   The town has an estimated population of more than 6,000 and continues to expand. Each year there are up to 16 cases of sudden cardiac arrest in Okehampton (Source Southwestern Ambulance Service Foundation Trust March 2016 – 2017).   The aim of the charity is to not only provide access to defibrillators but to provide training in quality CPR, in conjunction with using the equipment. Whilst anyone can use a defibrillator, training provides the confidence to use them in what can be an extraordinarily stressful situation. Over 250 people have now attended one of the free training sessions but the charity is hoping to increase this number significantly over the coming months/years.   Since 2017, Okehampton PADs have installed 8 public access defibrillators throughout the town in strategic locations and it is essential that this provision continues well into the future. This comes with significant costs and the charity has carried out various events to help with the funding and were delighted when they were informed that Mayor Cllr Julie Yelland had nominated them as her charity of the year.’   Joe Rice, one of the three trustees of Oke Pads said 'The contribution from the Mayor’s charity will make a significant difference, ensuring the continued provision of public access defibrillators in Okehampton, in addition to regular training sessions that are free to everyone. It is wonderful that Julie recognised the importance of this service. Whilst we can’t speak about individual situations, they have already made a difference in life threatening situations.'   Cllr Yelland went on to say that ‘I am incredibly thankful to so many people who really got on board with the fundraising efforts with such energy and enthusiasm and took Okehampton PADS to their hearts.  From the Plume of Feathers who hosted a very well attended folk evening; to all the helpers and supporters who came along to the Mayor’s Coffee Morning; to everyone who donated money and to those who gave some fabulous prizes that were raffled off at various events throughout the year.   I am very proud of the kind and generous community that we have in Okehampton and absolutely delighted to be able to present this cheque today.  I know the team at Okehampton PADS are very keen to continue delivering this vital free training, so I would encourage anyone who is interested in receiving it to get in touch with Okehampton PADS and let them know.  Contact details can be found on Facebook or at https://okepads.wixsite.com/okepads.’

May Mayoral Musings

VE day 75 on the 8th May. There were great plans afoot to celebrate this event, both locally and nationally, which had to be scaled down with it being down to individuals to decide how best they could celebrate in line with government guidelines.  However you spent it, it was a wonderful opportunity to think of those who laid down their lives for our freedom and to rejoice and give thanks for the liberties we have enjoyed as a result.  It was made all the more poignant by the current situation we find ourselves in where it is our turn to protect the generation that made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

I stood on my doorstep at 11 am, wearing the Mayor's day chain, to observe the two minute silence.  In that time my thoughts travelled to my grandfathers - both of whom were involved in the war.  One was at El Alamein in North Africa and the other was a locksmith which was a reserved occupation.  He lived in the Midlands and was responsible for securing banks and other buildings that were bombed during the Blitz.  I thought about their wives and young children and tried to imagine what had been going through their minds when the announcement was made on the 8th May 1945.  As a nation, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who have gone before which can never be repaid and each one lives on in our memories.

Now, as then, neighbour is helping neighbour, key workers and volunteers are putting themselves on the front line to keep vital services running and families are learning how to keep in touch with one another through the wonders of modern technology.

Councillors made the decision not to hold an Annual Meeting this year, so there will be no changes to the committee membership.  I will continue as Mayor with Cllr Dr Ireland as Deputy Mayor.  The Chairmen of the Committees will remain as Cllr Leech (Planning); Cllr Marsh (Parks); Cllr Tolley (Policy & Resources) and Cllr Goffey (Property).

As Mayor, I continue to chair the Council meetings with our meetings being conducted digitally - a new experience for everyone!  These meetings are open to the public and the Clerk includes details of how to join when the agendas are published which are available from the Town Council website.  The Town Council has been working hard behind the scenes to offer support to the voluntary organisations who are helping those who are self-isolating.  We have offered funding, equipment and staff time and have set aside a £3,000 discretionary Hardship Fund to which individuals in need can apply.  Details are on the Town Council website.

On a final note, I should like to express my sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones over these last few weeks - whether to COVID 19 or for other reasons.  Coping with bereavement is hard enough when we can surround ourselves with friends and family.  Going through it without that physical support network makes it even harder and my heart goes out to you.

March Mayoral Musings

Fairtrade Fortnight ran from 24th February to 8th March and on Sunday 1st March I went along to Fairplace Church to listen to two Cocoa Producers from Ghana who were taking part in the service.  This was followed by a Community Lunch in the Ockment Centre where they spoke again.  They were telling us about the importance of Fairtrade and how it enables them to make a sustainable living as part of a Co-operative.  The funding the Co-operative receives from the sale of Fairtrade chocolate is put back into the community in West Africa and used to improve the lives of the people living there.  Examples of this include providing education facilities; housing for teachers; fresh water and giving women a voice and a recognised position.
Okehampton is a Fairtrade Town and Okehampton Town Council approved a grant to the Okehampton Fairtrade Group which enabled them to run a conference in Okehampton Primary School.  This gave the children an opportunity to talk about Fairtrade issues and enable them to meet the Cocoa Producers from Ghana.  I presented the cheque to the Okehampton Fairtrade Group at the Community Lunch.

I then had the pleasure of presenting a cheque to the Okehampton Otters Swimming and Life Saving Club on Wednesday 4th March.  This local organisation has been running for many years and is very ably run by a team of volunteers.  When working with children, it is absolutely essential that those volunteers receive the appropriate training around Safeguarding so they can ensure the children who come along are properly looked after and this money was a grant towards the cost of the training.

On Thursday 5th March I attended the funeral of Mr Ray Vallance, a previous Mayor of Okehampton and a very well-respected resident of the town.  He was a great character who always had a twinkle in his eye and who got involved in lots of different organisations in the town.  He will be much missed by many and my thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family at this difficult time.

Friday 6th March saw our Annual Civic Dinner which raises funds for the Mayor's chosen Charity which, this year, is OkePADS.  The speaker was former Royal Marines Commando, Regimental Sergeant Major Barry Gray, who is taking part in "Challenge Antarctica".  His talk was very interesting and generated lots of questions.

On Sunday 8th March I was invited to the Lord Mayor of Plymouth's Civic Service followed by a tour of Lady Nancy Astor's house at 3 Elliott Terrace, Plymouth.  As I am sure may of you will know, she was the first female MP to take her seat in the House of Commons in December 1919 representing Plymouth Sutton and a bronze statue of Lady Astor was unveiled in Plymouth in 2019 - 100 years after she was first elected.

Monday 9th March was Commonwealth Day where I read out the Commonwealth Affirmation outside St James Chapel at 9.20 am.  It turned out that this would be my final official Civic duty as Town Mayor as in the evening I chaired the emergency committee which authorised plans to ensure the continual running of the Council and its services in response to the emerging COVID 19 pandemic.  Cancellations of invitations to events that I had been invited to attend started coming in with the closure of the Town Hall effective from 16th March and staff working from home.  On Monday 23rd March, the country went into lockdown.

Mayor's News Archive