11 May 2024

What a glorious week last week turned out to be! The sun was shining, “No-Mow May” had manifested itself magnificently across swathes of grassy areas in the town, birds were cheeping, bees were buzzing, and the trees were lush and green with a new canopy of leaves. 

What a glorious time of year! 

The Mayoral week was a rather glorious affair as well. There were four formal engagements, three for me and one for Deputy Mayor Denise Bates. All of them empowering and affirming occasions that can only reinforce one’s faith in those around us. 

*** 

Right at the start of the week, on Sunday afternoon, my wife and I had been invited to attend the “afternoon extravaganza” arranged by the Trowbridge Lions Club at the Farmhouse Inn in Southwick. 

The Trowbridge Lions are part of Lions International, which is the largest voluntary service organisation in the world with over 1.3 million members across 46,000 clubs in 202 countries. According to the Lions website, there are currently 970 clubs in towns, cities, and villages throughout the British Isles and Ireland. 

So, it’s a BIG voluntary organisation! 

But, like so many of us, I’d heard of the Lions but knew very little about what they actually did. 

The Lions have (again, according to their website) four main functions: 

  • They raise money, which they use for those in need in both local communities and for global causes such as disaster relief. 
  • They organise welfare projects to make sure that the money they’ve raised reaches the people who need their help the most. 
  • They provide direct service by providing transport, care, equipment, etc., and any other practical help that they can see is needed to improve the quality of life for others. 
  • They socialise, meeting together and with other Lions and friends for social activities. 

Sunday afternoon was one of the social activities. The Trowbridge Lions (who are relatively small in number) had organised the event, which included a meal and musical entertainment, and had invited neighbouring clubs to come along and join in the fun with them. 

Now, probably the one aspect of the Lions’ work that I already knew about was fundraising. Twice during my mayoral year I’d already been happy to help out where I could; the first was at a joint (with Westbury Lions) classic car show last summer, and the second was during the run up to Christmas when I (along with members of the TTC Information Team) joined their Santa Float collecting door to door in the Paxcroft area of town. 

Both of these occasions were not just altruistic; they were good fun as well, so I was quite willing to join in when the invitation arrived for last Sunday’s bash. 

The highlight of the afternoon, though (notwithstanding the speeches delivered), was the awarding of the Melvin Jones Fellowship to our own Trevor Heeks. 

The Melvin Jones Fellowship is awarded to a select few for “dedicated humanitarian services” by the Lions Clubs International Foundation. Trevor has long been a mainstay of the Trowbridge Lions; he’s always looking for ways to help his fellow townspeople, and despite his advancing years (sorry, Trevor, but it’s true), he was still to be seen collecting money for the Lions’ good causes at the entrance to Tesco last Christmas. 

I personally can’t think of a single person in our town who’s contributed more in so many ways over many decades than Trevor, so the awarding of this honour was not only due, but it was also right. 

If you’d like to find out more about the work that the Lions do in our community, you can visit their website at https://www.trowbridgelions.org/ 

*** 

Thursday saw the Kings Cup Schools Tennis Tournament take place in the Town Park. 

It was a lovely sunny day for the school’s tournament, organised by TTC’s own Active Trowbridge. Six schools took part in the knockout competition that saw teams coached by Active Trowbridge staff, assisted by The Marcelle Tennis Academy, and scored by The Clarendon Academy. 

It was a very close competition with some really good skills on display, but after a nail-biting final against Newtown, Y3 from Castle Mead School triumphed and won the tournament. I then had the honour of presenting them with their winner’s medals and the tournament trophy. 

It’s great to see so many of our local schools benefiting from these types of initiatives, and I’m now going to blatantly blow the trumpet for Active Trowbridge, which offers a wide range of sports and other activities for both children and adults run by expert coaches. 

The team, which is part of Trowbridge Town Council, puts on holiday camps and clubs, after-school clubs, and toddler sports clubs. The holiday camps are a great way for children to be active over half term and the long summer holiday and are based here in Trowbridge. They offer children from 4 to 12 years old the chance to experience a range of sports and play activities during the school holidays. 

Adults aren’t forgotten either, and Active Trowbridge goes out of its way to motivate and encourage adults to become more active and thus healthier with organised sessions like our Sunday morning “Yoga in the Park.”. 

Oh, and don’t forget the fantastic annual Active Festival here in the Town Park, where local sports clubs, teams, and, of course, Active Trowbridge themselves will be demonstrating their skills and offering visitors the chance to try their hand themselves. 

This year, the Trowbridge Town Council Active Festival is on Saturday, July 13th July, but if you can’t wait that long, you can find out more about Active Trowbridge and its events at: https://activetrowbridge.co.uk/ 

That’s it, blatant promotion over, but I do believe that this is just the sort of service that is actually providing benefit to our population (not to mention going a long way to meet our Council’s stated objective of making Trowbridge a more active town). 

*** 

The week then ended on Saturday with my wife and I on our way over to Salisbury after breakfast for the election and inauguration of the 763rd Mayor of Salisbury, Cllr. Sven Hocking.  

Now, Salisbury does make rather a grand affair of their Mayor-Making. They treat the whole occasion with far more ceremonial “pomp and circumstance” than we do. 

Salisbury’s Member of Parliament graced the event with his presence, along with the High Sherif of Wiltshire and Deputy Lord Lieutenant. The Burgermeister of Salisbury’s twin city of Xanten (Germany) was there as a guest of honour. The City Council was there in their robes. High Court Judges, senior police, local dignitaries, and past Mayors of the city were all included. Plus, of course, assorted Mayors from across Wiltshire, and that included me. The Beagle and Town Crier both wore ceremonial garb very different from the red robes we’re used to on our own Trevor Heeks. 

To be honest, they all looked a bit “Dickensian” in their dark suits trimmed with gold, almost like characters from Oliver Twist. And then there was the Chief Executive (City Clerk); his ceremonial attire was rather “legal,” with a black gown and what looked like a barrister’s wig. 

But that’s what’s so wonderful about a full-blown ceremonial occasion like this. It’s full of history and heritage. They looked anachronistic and Dickensian because they were. This is the 763rd time they’ve done this! They’re entitled to celebrate that level of longevity in the institution and office of their Mayor. 

Maybe we’re missing a trick or two in not making more of our civic ceremonies here in Trowbridge? Maybe… 

Anyway, we all met up before 11:00 at the Guildhall in Salisbury’s impressive (and well-used) Market Square before forming up to process through the city led by the Shrewton Silver Band and into St. Thomas’s Church for the formal City Council meeting and Mayor-Making. 

During the meeting, Cllr. Hocking received the Chains of Office and described his journey from his sometimes misspent youth as a school boy in the city to (in his words) the dizzying heights of being elected Mayor. I have to admit I really warmed to the newly inaugurated Mayor, he came across as genuine, honest, and, above all, very grounded. I think Salisbury has chosen well. 

After the actual Mayor-Making, we all processed back to the guildhall, where we were treated to a really sumptuous buffet. 

All in all, it was a very pleasant day. 

*** 

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

 

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