2 September 2023

Once again, last week my “Mayoral duties” were concentrated in the second half of the week. The first half of the week is being taken up with catching up on long-overdue household chores and administrative tasks, such as renewing my broadband contract. Wow, what a nightmare that turned out to be! It involved a marathon of telephone calls and complaints, with every person I spoke to telling me something slightly different, either in terms of pricing or the services provided. No wonder too many people just give up and accept the first renewal price they’re offered! The lesson, and my one piece of consumer advice, is to always push for a better deal; you stand a very good chance of getting one!

Anyway, back to more Mayoral things.

On Thursday, my wife and I spent a very enjoyable hour or so in the company of the Trowbridge Town Hall Tea Dance group. This group has been running for nine years now since being founded by Mike Freke (of Mike Freke Dance) and, up until now, has always met at Trowbridge Town Hall. However, since the closure of the town hall for renovation, the regular monthly tea dance has relocated to the Longfield Community Centre on Weavers Road.

Now, anyone who knows me will testify to the fact that I’m not a natural, comfortable, or even slightly socially acceptable dancer. It’s not a pastime that I enjoy at any level. But I was immediately struck by the really friendly and informal atmosphere that Mike has managed to foster at his tea dances. He led the group’s activities effortlessly and yet still managed to segue the music seamlessly between dances of completely different styles. He made it all look so easy (which probably contributed a lot to the easy atmosphere) while displaying a level of professionalism that showed just how much serious preparation had gone on behind the scenes!

There were just over forty attendees there this afternoon. There were novices and experienced dancers; there were people from Bradford-on-Avon, Warminster, Trowbridge, and Westbury; there were groups of friends, couples, and complete strangers just “trying it out.” But the one thing they all had in common was that they were all thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Oh, and yes, there was tea and cake!

Then, to round off the week, I spent a lovely couple of hours on Saturday afternoon down at the Gloucester Road Allotments. It was their summer BBQ and show, and I was invited to give out the prizes.

I have to say I was impressed, not just by the size and quality of the fruit and vegetables on display (not to mention the cake, cookies, and artwork), but by the wonderfully friendly welcome that I was shown by everyone there.

It had never crossed my mind before today that having an allotment also meant joining a close-knit community that, whilst they might well compete very seriously over the size of their marrows, will passionately support each other when the chips are down—another example of unsung community spirit here in Trowbridge.

It’s a lovely group of people who don’t just grow stuff; they grill a good burger, brew a good brew, and make their own honey as well!

It’s now been a quarter of a year since I became Mayor of Trowbridge, and I’ve had time this week to take stock and look back on these first three months. I think by and large it’s been a positive time, and whilst there are things that I might, with the perfect 20/20 hindsight that reflection on past events always brings, choose to do differently as Mayor… There’s nothing that I have genuine cause to feel regret over.

I do think that the most memorable thing about being mayor of this marvellous town has to be that it’s introduced me to people—individually and in groups—that I’d never normally have come into contact with. Whether they’re volunteers working for one of our marvellous local charities, faith, or community groups who day in and day out quietly get on with the job of supporting the most vulnerable in our community, or the groups of dedicated enthusiasts who offer a helping hand to those with similar interests (anything from model railways to our town’s history and heritage), through to the local businesses that deliberately engage with the town and play such an important role at the heart of our community,

I never realised just how many groups and individuals there were out there in our town quietly spending their time doing something genuinely unselfish. All these people and the groups they represent are key to our town’s vitality and success. All too often, though, they go unsung and unrecognised. We should celebrate their contribution to our lives and thank them all for their efforts.

That’s my takeaway from my first three months… We have so much good and so many good people to celebrate here in Trowbridge!

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

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