Just when things were starting to settle into a relatively calm ‘new normal’ wham bam the Covid-19 figures started to take a turn in the wrong direction and we are once again living in semi lockdown. We are now required to wear masks, the hospitality industry closes at 10.00pm and Mayoral events I am asked to attend are starting to slow down again or be cancelled.
The two week period prior to this was the busiest I have been, and I was able to attend and lend support to a wide range of wonderful causes.
Sunday 13th September – Battle of Britain 80th Anniversary Service
My wife and I attended the Service of Remembrance at St. Johns Church, West Bay. The service was organised by the Royal Air Force Association, Bridport and Lyme Regis Registered Members Group. It was led by RAFA chaplain Rev Janice Moore and all other contributions were delivered by the projection of previously recorded pieces. My contribution can be viewed here:
Sadly as a result of the restrictions in place due to the Covid-19 virus the congregation was limited by invitation only. It was a very different experience but at the same time it was an extremely moving one. For example I learned that Wing Cdr Paul Farnes, passed away in January this year. He was among the 3,000 airmen – The Few – who defended Britain’s skies in 1940. His passing marks the final living link we have with those brave young Spitfire pilots who fought off the enemy in the skies of southern Britain. We will be forever in their debt and they will not be forgotten.
Monday 14th September – St Mary’s CofE School Treehouse Launch
Being Mayor of Bridport is a serious business, but there are times when it is great fun as well. To carry out the formal opening of the newly constructed Tree House at St Mary’s CofE School was one of those great fun occasions.
The tree house was designed by the children of St Mary’s working with Town Surveyor Daryl Chambers and constructed by his amazing outdoor works team. Nestling snugly between and beneath some large trees the treehouse already looks like it has always been there. When I spoke to Headteacher Kate Bartorska she told me that, “Everyone in the school is absolutely thrilled with the new addition to the school grounds.”
The construction of the tree house is part of the work of the Edible Garden team and the partners who have run it with St Mary’s for the last 7 years. The funds to pay for the tree house came from the very generous Ernest Hecht Charitable Foundation which this year has paid for the repair of the Cobb oven, new garden equipment, helped to support the professional gardeners, funded part of the garden itself, repaired the shed and provided music and storytelling for the children in the orchard during the Pandemic. The local partners who volunteer and support the work come from the charity HOME in Bridport and Transition Town Bridport.
Once the formalities were over I joined the pupils in the tree house to explore it fully. The ramp with non slip treads provided easy access for an old man like me and the fireman’s pole once spotted was the obvious fun way back to ground level. Fortunately there was no-one there with a camera to record my inelegant slide down the pole. I am sure the pupils at St Mary’s CofE School are going to have many years of fun using this wonderful treehouse.
Wednesday 16th September – Presentation at Bridport Community Hospital
Sadly Bridport’s most historic event, the annual Charter Fair, was a very scaled back occasion this year due to the Covid-19 restrictions now in place. Bridport was granted its charter in 1253 and 765 years later a new Charter was signed to make Bridport the first Rights Respecting Town in the land.
One part of the celebrations that normally takes place on the day is the awarding of the Charter Fair Trophy.
This year the prestigious Charter Fair Trophy has been awarded to Bridport Community Hospital where the presentation took place. I had the pleasure of presenting the trophy to Matron Ellen Holmes, accompanied by David Powell of Bridport Rights Respecting, Town Crier John Collingwood, and Charter Fair Chairman Arthur Woodgate. My words, spoken at the ceremony, attempt to sum up the reason why they are so deserving of it.
“During these challenging times I cannot think of a more deserving recipient than Bridport Community Hospital, a place where people are able to access and receive the best of health care, a place where people matter. I myself have recently benefitted from the highly professional care provided by the dedicated staff. For that reason I am extremely pleased to be able to present this award on behalf of the people of Bridport as a small token of thanks for the wonderful work you continue to do.”
The Charter Fair is an event that celebrates not only the heritage of the Town, the vibrancy of the present through the involvement of so many diverse elements in our community, but also the Town’s future through the ongoing influence of the Rights Respecting Programme. The good news is that both Buckey Doo Square and the Arts Centre have been booked for the 2021 Charter Fair to be held on Saturday 25th September.
For more information about the Charter Fair contact: [email protected]
For more information about Bridport Rights Respecting contact: [email protected]
Sunday 20th September – Roped in for Bridport
At 1.00pm on the last day of summer, a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon, the brainchild of Keith Hatch and Ruthy Ni Connallain became a reality. The Ropemakers pub and Bridport Town Council joined forces to host a mini music festival at Millennium Green, which raised around £2,000 for Bridport Community Fridge and Parkinson’s UK.
The event, Roped in for Bridport, was split over two stages with local acts and Ropemakers favourites bringing some much-needed live music to Bridport. Performers included Dylan Ross, Rosie Smith, Magdalene and the Mystical Birds, John D Revelator, Psychadelephant, Sinful Maggie, Samantics and headline act the Skimitty Hitchers. Herbie Treehead kept the crowd entertained between sets with amongst other things a fantasy auction and some very corny and topical jokes.
Daryl Chambers the Town Surveyor and his events team once again had the organisation and social distancing measures down to a tee. When I spoke to Daryl to congratulate him on the part his team had played in putting the event on he said “We have always said Bridport is an eventful town with a fantastic community spirit – and today proved it once again, even in times of adversity. It was good to work with The Ropemakers, the town council liaised with the relevant authorities in advance to ensure everything was run safely – but at the end of the day the audience behaved brilliantly and were just happy to be out in the sun enjoying themselves and listening to live music.”
Saturday 26th September – Charter Fair ‘Buskers’ in Bucky Doo Square
Another lovely early autumn day and Bucky Doo Square paid host to a much scaled down Charter Fair in collaboration with Rights Respecting Bridport. This year the fair was limited to a musical extravaganza in support of the refurbishment and installation of new play equipment on Brandon’s Trail at Bridport Primary School. The trail was installed in 2009 in memory of Brandon Wayland who was diagnosed with cancer when he was just three-years-old. He sadly died two years later.
Town Crier John Collingwood opened proceedings with one of his wonderful cries and I said a few words later to thank those involved and encourage people to donate to a very worthy cause that will bring a great deal of pleasure to the children of Bridport Primary School for years to come.
The event was a great success with a range of outstanding local musicians and singers providing the Saturday shopping crowd with some wonderful entertainment as they paused for a few minutes to listen and tap their feet when passing through the square. Their appreciation was matched by their generosity and I saw numerous people stuffing notes and coins into the collection boxes. All in all great success and a credit to Arthur Woodgate and David Powell who pulled the whole thing together.