23 July 2023

Right. Here’s my blog for the last week. It’s been quite a full week, and I think I can honestly say that, as far as I’m concerned, it ended on a real high.

Tuesday saw the first full meeting of Trowbridge Town Council since May. This meeting was significant, not because of any heated debate or the usual political posturing, but because it was the meeting where Trowbridge Town Council formally presented the grants it has made this year to local charities and voluntary groups. There were twenty-two of these to present, and all but two of the recipients had turned up in person to tell us a little bit about what they do and why they do it. It was really quite inspiring to realise just how many people we have in our town who are prepared to put themselves out for others without any great recognition or reward.

Wednesday was a day of meetings. We started with a meeting between TTC, Trowbridge Police, and the town’s Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber had the firm impression that low-level crime and anti-social behaviour were on the increase in the town centre, and they had some feedback from their members to back this up. The problem, as the police saw it, was that when low-level crimes go unreported, they obviously go unrecorded, and it’s virtually impossible for the police to get a true picture of what’s happening where, and thus find it difficult to target what we all know are their already very limited resources in the most effective way they can.

The plea was therefore sent out to all businesses in the town centre (and I’ll extend that plea now to all residents) to please, if you see a crime in progress or witness anti-social behaviour taking place, take responsibility and REPORT IT! You can do this either online (by following this link: https://www.wiltshire.police.uk/ro/report/) or by dialling 101. But without accurate reporting, we can’t expect our local policing teams to know what’s going on. Obviously, if there’s a crime in progress or a serious incident has occurred, you should dial 999 and ask for the police.

Wednesday afternoon, I walked over to Parade House for a meeting between a few of us interested in promoting the heritage and history of Trowbridge in such a way as to attract visitors and tourists to the town. We are very conscious of the fact that many of our “tourists” use Trowbridge as a base from which to explore the wider area. This is good and something that we need to encourage and develop, but we also want people visiting our town to be able to explore our own heritage, industrial history, and fascinating (yet often overlooked) architecture.

The day ended with a meeting of the Weavers Market committee. The Weavers Market (for those who don’t know) is a volunteer artisan market that is staged on the second Saturday of the month (from May to December) in Fore Street and at internal venues in the town centre. The market relies on volunteers to make it work. So if anyone fancies putting on a hi-vis jacket once a month and helping local residents access local artisan traders, please do get in touch.

On Friday morning, I have another meeting with two of the original forces behind the Weavers Market and one of our leading entrepreneurs to discuss an idea to expand and extend the market. All I can say is “watch this space”!

Then on Friday afternoon, I had the privilege of being asked to open the new “Community Kitchen” at Trowbridge Future’s Seymour Hub on Charles Street. This is a fantastic venue that can now offer cooking courses to local residents, all courtesy of local businesses and volunteers who donated not just the kitchen itself but the installation and fitting out as well. What a marvellous town we live in! I met some of the volunteers and some of the folk who were there to have a brew and a chat at the regular “Kindness Café” that Trowbridge Future runs from the centre. It was lovely to see so many people just relaxing in a welcoming and supportive environment. I’m really impressed by the whole ethos that Trowbridge Future adopts—no pressure and no agenda other than being there if needed.

Saturday afternoon was the day of the BUPA Trowbridge Oaks Summer Fete, and there were donkeys! Unfortunately, there was also rain, and a fair bit of it too, so the “summer” element of the fete was a bit misleading. But the atmosphere certainly hadn’t been dampened by the weather. The staff had set up the whole fete indoors, with the exception of the donkeys, who were obviously still outside. The afternoon’s event had been given a “Barbie and Ken” theme, and it was really well attended by the residents themselves, their families (some of whom had come from the other side of the country), and the home’s staff, who had dressed up in line with the theme. We were all treated to a very entertaining and joyous fete, including live music and a demonstration by a young local magician who was only twelve years old and very good at his craft. Well done everyone! I met some lovely folk, heard some fascinating stories, and yes, I patted a donkey!

The week was rounded off with the Mayor’s Civic Service on Sunday. This is an annual event that is usually held at St. James’ Church in the town centre and is an opportunity to both publicly “celebrate” the new Mayor’s year in office and also for the St. James’ Trust to award their grants to their selected recipients for the year.

It was the first formal, fully robed, and chained event of my Mayoral term and was attended by representatives of many local charities, a fair few of our neighbouring town’s Mayors, a contingent from 2196 Trowbridge Air Cadets and their officers, and other members of the Town Council, as well as St. James’ usual congregation. We had gathered beforehand at the Civic Centre and processed up to the church led by our incomparable Town Crier, Trever Heeks, and my Mayoral Cadet (Cpl. Rose Church of the Air Cadets), ably carrying the town’s standard.

The service itself was also my opportunity to say a few words about my chosen Mayoral Charities for this year, Stepping Stones and Trowbridge Future. More importantly (and probably much more informatively), it was my opportunity to invite representatives of those two wonderful groups to say a few words themselves about the work they do. I have to say that, for someone without any great religious convictions, I found the service conducted by the Rev. Jake Eggertsen really moving.

Lastly, whether it was an epiphany brought on by my visit to St. James’ or not, we’ll never know, but I’ve had what I think is a brilliant idea for raising money towards my Mayor’s Charity Appeal (remember, that’s Stepping Stones and Trowbridge Future). Full details of this will be revealed soon, but if you’ve got a hankering to see your Mayor humiliated, this will be one for you!

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

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