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13 August 2023

My weeks as mayor seem to alternate: one is very busy, the next not so much. Last week was probably the quietest week I’ve had since I was elected mayor in mid-May.

I only had one official mayoral engagement all week, and that was on Thursday afternoon when I attended this month’s citizenship ceremony at County Hall. A citizenship ceremony is exactly what it says it is—it’s the final formal stage in being made a British citizen. It involves a registrar (representing the government), one of the Deputy Lord Lieutenants of Wiltshire (representing the King), and the mayor. For the last few years anyway, we have had an unwritten tradition here in Trowbridge of alternating the mayoral attendance at citizenship ceremonies between the mayor and the deputy mayor (currently Cllr. Denise Bates). It’s a chance for us both to regularly do something that is undeniably positive and, well, a cause for celebration and joy for all concerned.

Don’t get me wrong, virtually all that I am asked to do as mayor is positive,” but there are times when that positivity is tinged with the realisation that a positive attitude is needed only because, without it, people would suffer or not have the opportunities they need to fulfil their full potential.

Take Trowbridge Future, for example (one of my charities for this year). Trowbridge Future is an incredibly positive local charity that works tirelessly to build communities, empower lives, offer hope, and impart skills to young and old alike here in Trowbridge.

Trowbridge Future is the very definition of positivity, and the people who are active in the charity exude positivity and a desire to help, but it must also surely be a source of regret for anyone with a modicum of compassion that we even need a Trowbridge Future in the first place!

Anyway, back to the citizenship ceremony.

We usually have one ceremony every month here in Trowbridge, and at these, we will usually confer citizenship on between five and ten new citizens who are residents here in Wiltshire. Some of these new citizens may be relatively recent arrivals in the UK who have gone through the process as fast as they can (it still takes a minimum of five years); others may have been here for decades and only now decided that the time is right to apply for a British passport. Each new citizen can bring family and other guests to the ceremony with them. The ceremony is officiated by the registrar, and speeches are made by the attending Deputy Lord Lieutenant and myself (or Denise).

After the formalities of the ceremony, including the oath and pledge of allegiance, are complete, the actual citizenship certificate is formally presented to each new citizen by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant on behalf of the King, and I present them with a small gift on behalf of the Civic Authority. Photographs of each new citizen being presented with their certificate can be taken, and a group photograph is often taken after the ceremony is finished. It’s a happy event, and everyone has a generally good time.

I’ll be honest and say I really enjoy the citizenship ceremonies!

The only other thing that I want to mention in this week’s blog is Ukrainian Independence Day. This falls on the 24th of August, and this year the Ukrainian community here in Trowbridge is holding a celebration in the town park on the afternoon of their independence day (it’s a Thursday). Some of you may be hosts to our Ukrainian guests; some of you may be involved in the many churches and community groups offering support to those Ukrainians who live with us here in Trowbridge; but I sincerely hope that all of you who can want to come along and show solidarity with those citizens of Ukraine who, through no fault of their own, find themselves as our temporary guests here in the UK.

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

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