Mayor-Trowbridge-Chains-Robe-Park

15th June 2024

The Mayoral week last week started on Monday evening with a meeting of the town’s Fairtrade Group committee. As Mayor, I am the Honorary President of the Fairtrade Group in Trowbridge, but I’m also a member in my own right, so I was there on Monday wearing two hats.

The meeting on Monday last week had three main aims. Firstly, to sort out the arrangements for the group’s Annual General Meeting. Then to talk about the visit of a Kenyan coffee farmer to West Wiltshire in September for “Fairtrade Fortnight.” Finally, to discuss the succession planning for our current Chair’s retirement at the AGM in June.

In common with virtually all voluntary and community groups in Trowbridge at the moment, the Fairtrade group is in need of new, younger members. Promoting a fair, sustainable, and equitable form of trade, Fairtrade, is vitally important at a time when all too many supply chains are dominated by large global corporations. The small independent farmer, grower, or artisan frequently gets squeezed in the drive for larger and larger profits for the middlemen and resellers. This is what Fairtrade is all about: ensuring a fair return for the small-scale producer, wherever they may be.

Trowbridge has signed up to the principles of Fairtrade and has been a Fairtrade-accredited community for many years now, so if you want to know more about Fairtrade in general or the Trowbridge Fairtrade Group in particular, please have a look at the Trowbridge Town Fairtrade Group on Facebook.

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Now, you may remember me mentioning the launch of the Trowbridge Flower Festival in last week’s blog. Well, Tuesday afternoon saw the awarding of the prizes to the competition winners from the fifty shops and businesses that had entered.

We gathered in St. George’s Works off Silver Street and revealed the winners. These were Absolutely Fabulous Florists in Church Walk, along with SILT Studio, Serenity Beauty, and SASS Circus Space, all of whom are (coincidentally, I think not!) located in St. George’s Works.

These four were very deserving winners, but although it’s a cliché, I genuinely think that the real winner from the Flower Festival was the town of Trowbridge. For a few weeks this summer, the town has been wonderfully colourful, most vibrantly decorated, and most pleasant to walk around. That’s the real result of the Flower Festival!

Whilst we’re on the subject of St. George’s Works, I think it’s worth plugging this little hidden gem in the centre of Trowbridge. It’s turning into a real artisan quarter with small independent businesses that also include the marvellous Still Sisters micro-distillery and gin bar.

Next time you’re in the town centre, have a wander down St. George’s Works and have a look.

***

Tuesday afternoon continued with a meeting of the town’s Twinning Forum. This is a Town Council body that I, as Mayor, chair. It brings together the four twinning associations in the town to discuss activities, think of joint events, share news from our twin towns, and generally look for ways in which we can promote twinning in the town.

Now, despite the danger of repeating myself, the twinning groups (a bit like the Fairtrade group) are also in search of new blood to swell their numbers. I don’t know what it is, but every single community or voluntary group in the town seems to be struggling for new people getting involved. A town’s sense of community is so often driven by the small clubs and community groups that don’t just provide a service or feed an interest, but give people a social network (in the old-school “person-to-person” sense) to get involved in.

If you’re interested in getting to know more about our twinned towns in Morocco, Poland, Germany, or France, please get in touch with info@trowbrige.gov.uk  giving your contact details and the twinning group(s) you’re interested in, and we’ll pass your enquiry on to them.

***

Then, on Thursday afternoon, there was the first Citizenship Ceremony of this new Mayoral year.

The only real difference now that I’ve started on this second term as Mayor was that I was accompanied on Thursday by the new Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Stewart Palmen. The reason for this is simple much like last year (and the year before when I was Deputy Mayor), the Mayoral attendance at these monthly ceremonies at County Hall will alternate between myself and Stewart, and we’ll take turns to welcome our new citizens into the British family. It’s a very good way of introducing the Deputy Mayor to the civic duties of the Mayor, as these events are always so uplifting and a joy to be a part of.

The ceremonies are officiated by a Senior Registrar and attended by both a Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire and the Mayor of Trowbridge. The Deputy Lieutenant represents the King, and I’m there to represent the civic local authority. The Registrar conducts the ceremony and the Deputy Lieutenant, and I make speeches. It’s all very… well, civilised!

Last Thursday’s ceremony was no exception, with ten new citizens each receiving their certificate from the attending Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire (on this occasion, that was Mrs Helen Birchenough DL) and having their (and their families) pictures taken with the Deputy Lieutenant and myself.

Next month, it’s Stewart’s turn.

***

Thursday was rounded off in the evening with another twinning meeting, this time it was specifically the Leer (Germany) Twinning Association committee. I’m Honorary President of the Leer Twinning Association (yes, I know, the Mayor is honorary president of a lot of groups in the town! ), but my wife and I are both members of the association and members of its committee separately from my role as Mayor. So once again, I had two hats on that night!

We planned a barbeque, a tabletop sale, and a quiz (details will be published on social media) and talked about our forthcoming association visit to Leer in Ostfriesland in October. There’ll be forty odd of us going, including myself and Trevor Heeks, to coincide with Leer’s annual Gallimarkt.

***

The busy week then ended on Saturday with the joint Trowbridge Town Council/Trowbridge Town Hall Midsummer Festival. I wasn’t there in any Mayoral capacity, but I was there during the early afternoon with my wife, daughter, and grandsons, and I spent the evening back in the park with just my wife listening to the music while enjoying a couple of beers and some good food.

It was a good day, but if I’m absolutely honest, I didn’t think it was as good as last year’s festival. Those who attended were generally very well behaved and enjoyed themselves. The music in the evening was great, and the final set from The Entitled Sons really rounded off the day in style.

However, many people also told me that there wasn’t the range of entertainment that there had been for children during the day as last year. Maybe this lack of entertainment for the younger attendees contributed to the fact that, when I arrived back in the park shortly after 7 o’clock in the evening, the straw bales that had been put out as seating on the grass in the park had been totally destroyed by gangs of children who were running around throwing loose straw all over that end of the park!

The weather, of course, didn’t help; last year was a lovely warm and sunny day, this year was overcast with the odd shower, and that inevitably had some effect on the numbers there.

***

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

 

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