Okehampton Town Council - Mayoral News Archive

Mayor's News Archive

Edwardian Evening

Join Everything Okehampton for an evening of late night shopping, entertainment and the switch on of the Christmas lights

Cheque Presentation to the North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Group 2022

Presentation of cheque by the Mayor

The Mayor of Okehampton at the opening of a new Dream-a-way holiday venue

Helping to make dreams come true for Devon’s children and adults with disabilities or life affecting health conditions

Cheque Presentation to the Museum of Dartmoor Life 2022

On Thursday 9th June Cllr Bob Tolley presented the museum of Dartmoor life with a grant cheque for £3500.

Carnival 2021

Thank you from the Mayor and Mayoress to the Carnival Committee

I would just like to thank Karen and all of the Carnival Committee for organising and executing a first-class carnival this year under difficult circumstances.

I would also like to thank those participating, both young and old, for dressing up and getting involved, and all those organisations that facilitated it’s smooth and safe transition through their stewarding and traffic control.

Jill and I, during both processions, were delighted to see so many people with smiling faces. During the course of the evening procession, aside from hearing young voices saying ‘Its Father Christmas’ or ‘Is he a King’, the thing we heard the most was the laughing voices on happy faces of cheerful people, enjoying their communities’ traditional activities, celebrations and silly antics.

It was great to see some normality again. So, to the committees, participants, stewards, spectators and Okehampton, well done. 

Bob & Jill Tolley

OkeRail 150th Anniversary

The Mayor of Okehampton was joined by the Mayor of West Devon during the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of Okehampton's Railway. On Saturday 2nd October 2021 the Mayor read a proclomation and there was an exhibition of artwork from the local school children. On the Sunday a ceremonial key was presented at the Railway station

Civic Service 2021

The Civic Service 2021The Civic service was held on the 19th September in a reduced format due to Covid. The Mayor with the Mace Bearers Basil Jones and David Piper lead the Councillors and dignitories to Fairplace Church.

Mayors Coffee Morning

At the end of July Mayor Bob Tolley held a coffee morning in aid of his charity Dream-a way. Representatives from the charity came to the event adn explained what the charity did.

New Putting Green

On a very wet July morning serveral of the Councillors and Town Council staff came out to try the newly referbished putting green by the Leisure Centre. A fun time was had by all even if a change of clothes was needed afterwards.

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 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.

February Mayoral Musings

On Friday 7th February, I was invited along to an Awards Ceremony for a competition run by Dogberry & Finch Books for children who attend schools within the Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust.  The children were asked to design a piece of Art/Text that would sit on the official bookmark for the bookshop on the theme of 'how does your favourite book make you feel'?  Warmest congratulations to the winners and runners up for their incredible design.

The following week I presented a cheque to 'Westbank' who are doing a lot of work supporting Young Carers in Okehampton.  A couple of days later I was honoured to be able to present the prize to North Tawton Primary School who were the runners up at the annual Primary School Quiz Final which is organised by the Rotary Club of Okehampton with the winning team being from Okehampton Primary School.  Huge congratulations to all the children who came from lots of different primary schools in the area and took part in the Quiz.  The questions certainly weren't easy, yet they all looked like they were having great fun.  Lots of very proud family members in the audience.

At the end of the month, I was invited to the 2443 (Okehampton) Squadron Air Cadets' Coffee Morning in the Charter Hall.  This was very well supported with lots of delicious cake!  As always, the Cadets were impeccably turned out and a real credit to their Squadron.

January Mayoral Musings

In terms of attending official events, January has been a quieter month as everyone gets back in the swing after the Christmas break.  We have a team of volunteer Mace Bearers, three of whom are new, so I took the opportunity to arrange a bit of a get together where we all met up and the two long standing Mace Bearers shared their experiences and passed some of their extensive knowledge on to the newer ones.  On Saturday 18th January, the Town Council held a Climate Change Coffee Morning for members of the public to meet and talk with organisations who are responding first hand to the challenges we face as a community.  A very generous member of the public had donated some raffle prizes for the Mayor's Charity so we held a raffle and raised £69.50 for OkePADS.  On Monday 20th January I presented a grant cheque to Everything Okehampton on behalf of Okehampton Town Council which will go towards the installing and ongoing maintenance of the Christmas lights.  I am sure you will agree that the display in Okehampton always looks absolutely amazing.

I had the opportunity to attend a meeting with a representative from NHS Property Services who own the hospital building on Friday 24th January.  The purpose was to look at how the spare space within Okehampton Hospital can be utilised by the community.  There are already a lot of clinics that run out of the hospital, so if you are referred to one by your GP do ask if you can be seen locally.  I also met the new Community Responder on Monday 27th January, Will Britten, whose role is to provide more local policing within the community and also to offer more fire cover.  He is able to offer free fire Home Safety checks for people to see if any fire prevention needs to be put in place.

One of the responsibilities of the Mayor's role is that of being a Trustee of Okehampton United Charities and Simmons Homes Charity - both of which do a tremendous amount for the community within Okehampton and the surrounding Hamlets.  It is very encouraging to see the positive impact that both of these charities have - so many services that are provided through the voluntary sector would simply not happen or have far greater limitations on how much they can do if it weren't for the support of these two local charities.

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!

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!

June Mayoral Musings

On Saturday 1st June, I was privileged to be invited to the Rotary Club of Okehampton President's Dinner.  The speaker was Mr David Lemon who spoke about his adventures walking along the length of the Zambezi river travelling through Zambia, Angola and Mozambique.  He is the first person in recorded history to make that particular walk which is 2000 miles long and both the obstacles he faced in terms of his personal health and the support he received from local people along the way were truly amazing.  There was a raffle for the outgoing President's chosen charities for the year which are Children's Hospice South West and Hospiscare.

The following day I was invited to a Ten Tors post event lunch at Okehampton Battle Camp where I met representatives from all the different organisations who work so hard to make Ten Tors such a success.  2020 will be the 60th Anniversary of Ten Tors and the organisers are very keen to hear from anyone who was involved in the early days.  If this was you, then please do get in touch with them.  The email address is SWHQ-TenTors-MAILBOX@mod.uk .

On Wednesday 5th June I attended the Introduction Ceremony for the new Mayor at Northam Town Council.  This was a very interesting evening and it was good to have the opportunity to talk to others about the work we are doing in Okehampton to get the passenger rail service re-instated.

Fairplace Church put on a beautiful Flower Festival which I went along to on Saturday 15th June.  In the gallery upstairs was a gorgeous display of wedding dresses and photos from members of the congregation and downstairs were themed displays which reflected the annual cycle and rhythms of Church and Rural Life.  The quality of the arrangements and story-telling through the displays was truly incredible.

On Saturday 22nd June I was invited along to South Molton Olde English Fayre.  I have to admit that I have never been to South Molton before and it was a lovely drive through beautiful countryside in glorious sunshine.  I even took part in the Floral Dance - another first for me!

Would you know what to do if someone collapsed in front of you? - apart from call the emergency services of course.  Okehampton Public Access Defibrillators (OkePADS) is my chosen charity for my Mayoral year.  I met with two of the trustees to talk about how I could be of service to them.  They are very keen to see their free training being taken up by all members of the community.  Anyone aged 14 and over can take part.  The sessions last about two hours and include training in CPR.  What is CPR you might well ask?  It stands for "cardiopulmonary resuscitation" which is an emergency life-saving procedure that is done when someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped.  This may happen after an electric shock. heart attack or drowning.  CPR combines rescue breathing and chest compressions.  In short, being trained in CPR and the use of defibrillators will give you the confidence to take action and give the victim the best possible chance of survival.  If you want to know more or book yourself on, then please either email them on okepads@gmail.com or check out their website: https://okepads.wixsite.com/okepads.  You can also find them on Facebook.

My next official event was in Okehampton at the Octagon Theatre on Thursday 27th June.  Community Links SW CIC put on a Music Centre Concert to showcase all that their students had learnt over the summer term.  The orchestra and choir were made up of young people of all ages and they played and sang their hearts out on a very warm summer evening.  I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.  Congratulations to all those who worked so hard to make it such a success.

My final duty for this month was to attend the Annual Service of Commemoration and Re-dedication of St John Ambulance (Devon) in Fairplace Church on Sunday 30th June.  I expect there are quite a few people who were members of the St John Ambulance Service in their youth and learnt first aid - I know I was one of them.  The St John Ambulance Brigade was formed in 1887, however the service dates back to 11th Century Jerusalem where the first Knights of St John set up a hospital to care for sick pilgrims.  Their motto is Pro fide Pro Utilitate Hominum - For the Faith and In the Service of Humanity.

Throughout the month I attended as many coffee mornings on Saturdays that I could.  It isn't always possible to get around to every one as it can depend very much on existing commitments.  My apologies if I didn't make it to yours.  It was also lovely to have a wander around the town on Saturday 29th June which is when the Food and Drink Festival was running.  Lots of stands selling local, unique produce and plenty of visitors to the town.


May Events

One of the responsibilities of the Mayor is to attend various Civic events around the region.  This gives a wonderful opportunity to meet other town leaders and hear about the local issues we are facing.  It is probably not surprising that many of these are universal - traffic congestion being one of them!  I went along to the Mayor Making Ceremony at Barnstaple on Thursday 23rd May.  It was very encouraging to see that, like Okehampton, there was a very strong emphasis on recognising the work of volunteers in the community through the presentation of various awards.  I am always grateful for the time and skills that people give to make our town such a lovely place to live in.

Sunday 26th May saw the Annual Okehampton Rotary May Fair which is organised by our local Rotary Club as one of their regular fundraising efforts for the benefit of the local community.  Despite the weather being typically unpredictable, it was well attended and there was so much to see and do.  It is lovely to see our local traditions being kept alive including the children having great fun dancing around the Maypole.  How they didn't tie themselves in knots is beyond me!

The Mayor's May News

The new Mayoral year starts at the Annual Mayor Choosing Ceremony which, this year, was held on Wednesday 15th May in the Council Chamber.  This is a formal ceremony which sees all the Councillors appointed to their relevant roles for the year.  The Mayor is supported by two volunteer Mace Bearers who have their own duties.  Once appointed, the Mayor will Chair every full council meeting and attend events to which s/he is invited.  The Mayor also attends Civic events further afield throughout Devon as the representative of Okehampton.  The Mayor can choose a Consort (who is male) or a Mayoress (who is female) to accompany them.  The Mayor doesn't get paid, but there is a sum set aside in the budget to allow the Mayor to claim back any essential costs incurred in fulfilling the responsibilities.

So, once the dust had settled, my first official event was going along to the Cancer Research (Okehampton Branch) coffee morning on Saturday 18th May.  I had lots of interesting conversations of varying subjects with many different people.  There are a dedicated team of volunteers who run the coffee mornings every week from various locations within the town and it is a good place to go and meet new people.

In the afternoon, I went along to Simmons Park to welcome the drivers and navigators who were taking part in the Grand Tour Cape to Cape Classic Car Rally as they came through Okehampton and had a quick pit stop in the Park.  Those who took part in the Rally were raising awareness and funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.  There was a tremendous atmosphere as they were on the home straight.  The cars had started out from Cape Trafalgar in the South West of Spain and headed for Cape Cornwall, following the route of the original Trafalgar Way as much as possible.
Congratulations to all those who took part for raising a phenomenal sum of £87,834 for the charity along the route.

Afternoon Tea with the Mayor to raise funds for Cancer Research UK

On Wednesday 24th October the Mayor, Cllr Janet Carpenter, hosted an afternoon tea in the Charter Hall, Market Street to raise funds for her chosen charity, Cancer Research UK. The afternoon was very successful with everyone enjoying a variety of scones and tea and £180 was raised.

Councillor Carpenter's First Four Months as Mayor of Okehampton

Councillor Janet Carpenter is the Mayor of Okehampton for 2018/19.  Cllr Carpenter and her Mayoress, Cllr Christine Marsh, have had a busy few months supporting events both locally and in other areas of Devon.

Within Okehampton, the Mayor has presented awards to Okehampton Rotary course participants, attended meetings at Tor Support Services and Okehampton Friendly Circle, supported events at the Museum of Dartmoor Life, the Ladies Friendship Group and visited Okehampton Hospital.  The Mayor has also enjoyed meeting members of Okehampton Rotary and Lions Clubs for their annual dinners and supported local arts events.  Most recently, the Mayor and Mayoress enjoyed a visit to Okehampton Show.

The Mayor and Mayoress have visited other Devon towns for their special days - South Molton Olde English Fayre, Bideford Regatta, Northam Civic Service and the 50th Anniversary of Dartmoor Search and Rescue Service.

The Deputy Mayor, Cllr Julie Yelland, has attended events at All Saints Church Sanctuary, Okehampton Library and Dartmoor Resonance Music Festival.

The Mayor is currently organising events to raise money for her chosen charity for the year - Cancer Research.  Cllr Carpenter is hosting Afternoon Tea on Wednesday 24th October from 2.30 to 4.30 pm in the Charter Hall and also raising funds at a Coffee Morning in the Charter Hall on Saturday 17th November from 9 am to 12 noon.

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