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11 December 2023

My Mayoral week started on Monday when I met Daisy Goldsworthy.

Daisy is a pupil at The Mead School in Trowbridge and was the winning designer of this year’s official Trowbridge Charity Christmas Card. She came down to the Civic Centre with her family on Monday afternoon so that she could have her “official” photograph as the competition winner taken with me.

I’ve got to say that Daisy is a very engaging, bubbly, and inquisitive girl. I told her that I’d spent a couple of hours on Sunday signing all the copies of her card that were being sent out from the Mayor, and she wanted to know who got one and why… and was then incredibly impressed that her card was going to end up on the mantle pieces of such dignitaries as the Lord Lieutenant and the High Sherrif of Wiltshire, local Mayors across the county, and our Member of Parliament!

It was a real pleasure to be able to pick the winning design out of so many memorable entries, and then to be able to meet Daisy herself and put a face and personality to the creative talent behind that design. Daisy, her family, and her school should be proud of her. She’s a credit to herself and them.

Daisy’s design showcases buildings from around our town in a fairly tongue-in-cheek montage that features her school, shops, the library, her family, and, of course, the Grinch!

The cards are being sold to raise funds for my two chosen charities this year, Stepping Stones District Specialist Centre and Trowbridge Future, and they’re going fast. Please do come down to the Civic Centre on St. Stephen’s Place and grab a pack before they sell out! They’re sold in bundles of ten cards (with envelopes), and each bundle costs just £4.

***

Thursday evening was the occasion of the West Wiltshire Crematorium Christmas Memorial Service. This was a lovely Christmas Carol-based event that offered recently bereaved families an opportunity to remember and commemorate their loved ones. The service was organised by the crematorium’s operators and led by the Rev. Richard Curtiss. Not, I must stress, the same Richard Curtiss that penned such classic films as “Notting Hill,” “Love Actually,” or “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” although Rev. Curtiss did admit that he recently had four funerals and a wedding to conduct over one short week!

It was a very sympathetic service that, whilst Christian in nature (it was, after all, the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ), would have held meaning for those of all faiths… and none.

I was even invited to read a poem myself—one that I wasn’t familiar with, but one that, having read it over, I really loved. It perfectly (to me anyway) sums up the spirit of Christmas and the importance of family togetherness.

The Christmas Life by Wendy Cope, OBE

Bring in a tree, a young Norwegian spruce,

Bring hyacinths that rooted in the cold,

Bring winter jasmine as its buds unfold:

Bring the Christmas life into this house.

Bring red and green and gold, bring things that shine,

Bring candlesticks and music, food and wine.

Bring in your memories of Christmas past,

Bring in your tears for all that you have lost.

Bring in the shepherd boy, the ox and ass,

Bring in the stillness of an icy night,

Bring in a birth, of hope and love and light;

Bring the Christmas life into this house.

During the service, we sang traditional carols like “Oh, Come all ye Faithful,” “Good King Wenceslas,” and ”Silent Night” and were treated to wonderful music from the Salvation Army band. The service ended with a final carol after those attending were invited to light candles in memory of those they’d lost.

This was the second event organised by the West Wiltshire Crematorium that I’ve attended as Mayor this year, and I have to congratulate them on the way they go to such lengths to show empathy and engage with those in our community who’ve suffered bereavement.

***

On Friday morning, I had a meeting with some of the Town Council’s officers involved in helping administer the Mayor’s civic life. The task was to review the Mayoral year so far, examining the way the relationship between the officers of the council and the Mayor works in practice as well as looking for anything that we (any of us) could improve or do better in order to more effectively promote the role of the Mayor as a focal point for the civic life of the town.

I’ve got to say that I’ve really been very lucky in that the Council team that “manages” the Mayor’s appointments and activities, the Information Services Team, has always been very supportive of and committed to the whole concept of the Mayor as an ambassador and advocate for the town, and on a purely practical level, it’s only after doing this that I can really appreciate that it would be impossible to take on this role without their daily help, advice, and involvement.

So thank you.

***

Saturday was the last weavers’ market of the year.

I don’t officially attend this as “The Mayor” but I do try to volunteer whenever I can to help set up the market and stage on Fore Street. I’ve been doing this for the last couple of years, but since becoming Mayor I’ve also realised that this is a very good opportunity to meet residents and traders as they gather for the monthly market.

People stop for a chat, and whilst not everyone (in truth, very much the minority) recognises me as the town’s Mayor, it’s a very good opportunity to promote Trowbridge as a town well worth visiting, not just for the Weavers’ Market, which concentrates on local artisan traders, but also for the more general Wednesday Markets and for the increasingly vibrant local independent shops that are springing across our town centre.

This Saturday, however, the gods of bad weather conspired against us. The Weavers’ Market has to have public liability insurance, and this stipulates that we cannot have gazebos, etc. in Fore Street if the wind is expected to be above 40mph, even in short gusts. At one stage on Thursday evening, the Met Office was predicting gusts closer to 50mph to hit Trowbridge in the early afternoon on Saturday, so the very last decision was made to cancel the outdoor portion of the market and concentrate on getting as many stalls as we could (as well as the live music that is always a part of the market) indoors into Emmanuel’s Yard on Church Street. We did try to get some more stalls into the now almost empty Castle Place precinct, but apparently that idea was rejected by the management of the shopping centre.

Anyway, Emmanuel’s Yard was full, and despite the general disappointment at having to limit the last market of the year, the consensus was that the whole day had been a great success. Footfall was good, the music was welcomed, and the traders who were there seemed very happy with their day’s efforts.

The Weavers’ Market returns to Fore Street and Emmanuel’s Yard in spring 2024.

***

That’s it for now, so until next time….. keep safe, and please, be kind to each other.

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