Recent days have been themed by two things hope and community.
The sight of the first snowdrop followed by crocuses and daffodils is something that fills me with joy every year. They are a sign that the cold dark months of winter are soon to be behind us and the warm spring sun and lighter days is just around the corner.
On Sunday morning I joined a small group of Wellfields Drive residents as they planted bulbs around the bases of the large trees that make the green an especially attractive place.
Seeing what the residents were doing brought to mind the village green of my youth where I remember as schoolboy planting snowdrop and crocus bulbs. Although about twice the size of the green space on Wellfields Drive, my village green was at the heart of the village community with benches which were used by older residents to sit and chat and watch children playing on the swings and slide during the warmer days of the year. Events like May Day maypole dancing and summer fetes all added to the village community together or to simply enjoy spending time in each other’s company.
Sadly what was once a thriving rural working village with a school, two shops, a pub, a bakery and even a blacksmith, all now closed, is today home for wealthy people who have bought into a rural idyl by buying up the small cottages with large gardens and turning them into large houses with small gardens most of which are now hidden behind electrically operated gates. As for the village green, the last time I visited it had become a beautifully manicured grass desert, where sadly some of the lovely big trees and all the benches have gone. Today nobody sits and chats in the warm summer sun on the village green I remember so fondly.
If you feel inspired by what the Wellfields Drive volunteers are doing to enhance their local green space with a burst of spring colour and would like to repeat this on your local green space drop me an email: [email protected] outlining your ideas and let’s see if together we can Get Bridport Blooming.
The Covid pandemic has been a challenging time for all of us. But for the hospitality industry it has been a particularly challenging time with many venues simply living in hope that things will improve and they will be able to continue to serve their local communities long into the future. So it was a degree of surprise that I received an invitation from the Station Kitchen restaurant in West Bay to cut the ribbon on their new dining carriage. In these days of Covid uncertainty it takes a brave business person to invest a considerable sum of money in expanding their business in the hope that the future is going to be bright. But that is exactly what Claire and Ross Moore, the owners of the Station Kitchen, have done.
Their 1958 carriage arrived in West Bay in September from the Gloucester Warwickshire Steam Railway in the Cotswolds, and has since undergone an incredible transformation to turn it into a luxuriously appointed dining car. The new carriage seats up to 40 diners and even has a private dining area for up to 6 guests.
After cutting the ribbon and a slight struggle to open the door I stepped inside and was blown away by what I saw. I can only describe it as a Tardis, there is no way the exterior prepares you for impact of the interior. I am looking forward to taking friends there to show it off and enjoy a meal.
In Bridport and West Bay we are fortunate to have such a wide range high quality hospitality venues to choose from. The owners of each and every one of them are investing in the future in some way in the hope that the local community and our visitors will use them. The new Station Kitchen carriage is very much symbolic of that positive spirit.
This year I became a Trustee of the Cupboard Love Food Bank which now has full charitable status. On Wednesday I joined the volunteers for a Christmas lunch/get together, and here again I was filled with a real sense of hope and community. Hope, in the sense that in delivering a much valued service to those most in need, through no fault of their own, the Cupboard Love volunteers are giving people hope. Hope, that with support from Cupboard Love and other services such as Citizens Advice, their lives will improve. Hope, that if they can weather their current difficult situation, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and things will in time get better.
The Cupboard Love volunteers are a wonderful group of people who give so much without seeking any kind of reward. And yet whether they realise it or not they are rewarded in a number of ways. The very act of giving, and seeing the relief on someone’s face when they receive their food parcel, knowing that for the next few days they are going to be able to put food on the family table without worrying where it is going to come from is in itself hugely rewarding. By coming together to deliver the service, the volunteers have become a little community, enjoying each other’s company whilst working together to deliver it is highly rewarding.
My own experience of volunteering has taught me that I am incredibly rewarded and fulfilled by the work that I do. Volunteering is not a one way process with the volunteer doing all the giving. Important though that is, it is the sense of satisfaction having completed a worthwhile task that will make a difference to someone’s life or have a positive environmental impact. That is of equal importance to one’s own personal health and mental wellbeing.
I rounded of my week by switching on my first set of Christmas lights as Mayor. Yes, it is that time of year and I love it. Go along to Groves Nursery and Garden Centre seek out the beautiful Weldmar Hospicecare Christmas tree.
This year, Weldmar Hospicecare was once again able to hold local ‘Light up a Life’ services at venues across Dorset, the first of which I am thrilled to tell you was right here in Bridport at Groves on Friday evening.
- Weldmar Hospicecare is an independent, local charity for the people of Dorset.
- Weldmar supports adults living with any life limiting illness, and also provides support to their family and loved ones.
- This care is given at home, via Day Services across Dorset, or at their Inpatient Unit in Dorchester
- All of Weldmar’s care is provided completely free of charge, but Weldmar needs to raise over £18,000 every single day, I repeat £18,000 every single day or to put it another way £12.50 a minute in order to keep providing these services when they are needed most.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, this year Weldmar began a brand new service – Weldmar at Home. This helps fulfil the wishes of those patients who want to die in the familiar and comfortable surroundings of their own home, providing specialist care to support the patient and their loved ones.
‘Light up a Life’ is an opportunity for our community to come together to remember those who are sadly no longer with us, whether they were cared for by Weldmar or not. The ‘Light up a Life’ service combined readings, hymns, and carols supported by local community musicians and singers, bringing people together during a season when feelings of loss are strongest for us.
During my short speech of about 3 minutes, which probably seemed like an eternity to those present huddled under umbrellas in torrential rain, Weldmar have had to raise £37.50. So please consider giving a donation this Christmas to this much valued service. If you wish you can dedicate a light (or lights) in memory of someone special. In return you will receive a special card, an eco-friendly wooden star to hang on your local Light Up A Life tree (or your own tree at home). You can use this link to make your donation: https://www.weld-hospice.org.uk/donate/
The following poem was read out at he ‘Light up a Life’ gathering and it struck a chord with me in the context of this Blog – Hope and Community.
A Gift of Hope
When Winter’s breath is in the air,
When birds are silent, trees are bare,
And icy winds are sharp and strong,
And days are short, and nights are long.
When Christmas morning we will see,
A space where there would always be,
And we wonder how we’ll cope,
We find they have left a gift of hope.
We know one day the birds will sing,
And there’ll be another spring,
When there’ll be blossoms on the spray,
No-one can take this hope away.
It helps us through our tears and pain,
To believe that we will meet again,
For come each springtime we can see,
That life goes on eternally.
There is still time to support my charities, Harmony and The living Tree this Christmas by making a donation. Last year people made generous personal donations ranging from £5 to an extremely generous £400, the sum total of which made real contribution towards making a difference too many peoples lives.
If, like me, you are now of an age where you are in receipt of winter fuel allowance, a gift from the government, paid automatically during November and December to those eligible. The winter fuel allowance is an essential part of making the lives of some more bearable by enabling them to heat their homes without worrying, whilst for others it represents a free cherry on top of the icing on an already rich financial cake, please consider donating all or part of it using the methods outlined below.
You can gift your support by donating to the Mayor’s Charity fund by bank transfer:
Sort code: 20-26-62
Account no.: 80036552
Please quote the reference ‘Mayor’s Charity’.
or by cheque, made payable to Bridport Town Council. Please write: ‘Mayor’s Charity’ on the reverse and send it to Bridport Town Council, Mountfield, Rax Lane, Bridport, DT6 3JP.