This week : Hat Festival, West Dorset Business Awards, Mayoress Reports, Wareham Civic Day
On Saturday morning I had the pleasure of opening my first Hat Festival at 10.00am in Bucky Doo Square . Fortunately the sun had decided to shine on our celebrations again and already the square was busy with everyone wearing a dazzling display of hats . It definitely had the makings of a day to remember and I was really looking forward to enjoying the many events happening throughout the day culminating with giving the awards at 3pm.
After the events of the previous weekend I did wonder if the enthusiasm would still be in evidence, as a Carnival and Torchlight parade would be a hard act to follow. Fortunately Bridport Folk have plenty of stamina and the crowds came out again.
When Roger Snook first saw his dream of a Bridport Hat Festival come into being in 2010,
I doubt if he had any idea it would grow to be the festival of celebration that it is today. It has caught the imagination , not just of local people, but those who come from far and wide to take part or just join in the fun.
I am pleased that I wasn’t involved in the judging, how do you choose winners when there were so many clever, weird and wonderful, in some cases very unstable “hats”? I was even more relieved that I wasn’t involved when the Group prize went to our previous Mayor and his family (no favouritism ) who sported hats resembling swans necks and heads, a design thought up by the children and put together by the whole family.
All of the category winners were a joy to behold and I am sure that just taking part was an award enough for everyone.
My thanks to the Festival Committee for staging the event. The logistics of closing a street and managing all of the events in various locations so that everyone had a great time, could not have been easy.
The media have already released so many pictures that, as Bridget pointed out dryly, mine would just be “old hat” but I have included some anyway!
An addition to the event this year was the “Stanley Mansbridge Perpetual Trophy” competition for Town Criers in Dorset held in Borough Gardens. Bridport hosted this event as our Town Crier John Collingwood won the trophy last year.
Bridget and I really enjoyed being part of the judging panel and were amazed at the costumes and the “Cries” that the contestants entertained us with. It was a close run thing but Chris Brown from Wimborne Minster was judged the overall winner and also won the prize for the best costume. I was pleasantly surprised to see a young lad from Wareham taking part and Peter Leaton put on a great show. It was difficult to believe he was only 13 years old.
West Dorset Business Awards 2023
On Thursday I was invited to open the West Dorset Business Awards held in Bridport Town Hall. The West Dorset Awards were formed in 2020 by Nigel Reeve of MW Events with the aim of promoting West Dorset businesses at “grass roots” level. The annual event is always held at Lunchtimes with the theme being that it is the Businesses that are the main focus, not the event. This year the finalists were all category winners from previous events namely the Jurassic 2022 and in 2023 the Dorchester, Weymouth and Bridport competitions.
After making the welcome speech and having had a buffet lunch I had the pleasure of presenting the Digital Innovation Award sponsored by Bridport Town Council, and Daryl Chambers from Bridport Town Council presented the award for Outstanding Arts and Crafts, also sponsored by Bridport. The following Businesses were award winners and hopefully you will recognise some of them. I have included a photo of Doug Chalk and the Bridport Town Council contingent. Doug didn’t waste an opportunity to promote his Calendar, a true entrepreneur!
Smith and Smith, Hevers, Mercato Italiano, Doug Chalk, West Bay Discovery Centre and finally West Dorset Magazine who also won the overall winner award.
This week I would like to say thank you to Sam, the community champion at Morrisons for the amazing hamper of teas, coffee and biscuits and cakes, donated to the Memory Cafe at St. Swithins’ Hall.
Jim from Alzheimer UK and Ruth from Dementia Friendly Bridport were happy to receive the donation which will be a great asset in preserving their funds to provide more entertainment for the carers and cared for that take part regularly.
Last week, I was pleased to meet the new Chair, Caroline Tapster and Chris Brophy, non executive Director of Care Dorset at the Bridport Connect Summer Festival.
We discussed the need for more support for carers and how we can improve unpaid carer provision. Support groups offer a chance to connect with other carers, lessening the sense of isolation and provide mutual advice and understanding as well as providing carers with a voice and creating a sense of community.
I am facilitating a meeting of local care providers at the end of the month, with a view to working collaboratively and fulfilling the brief to provide a new model of carers group in Bridport. This would provide a group for carers alongside a group for their cared people run in separate rooms simultaneously in the same building.
I will keep you up to date with progress on this potentially amazing support service for local people.
With thanks to the Jurassic Coast Primary Network Social Prescribing Team
Wareham Civic Day – attended by Ian Bark
Last Friday the Mayor of Wareham Carol Turner welcomed Mayors and Civic Leaders from across Dorset to her Civic Day. We assembled at the Wareham Town Hall where following light refreshments we listened to a short presentation about the town of Wareham.
From the Town Hall we walked to the Rex Cinema. Celebrating 103 years the Rex is the only independent cinema in Dorset that shows films on every day except Christmas Day. Established in the former Oddfellows Hall all those years ago, it has seen many changes over the years including a Bar was added in 2003 in the Oddfellows meeting room and the REX became the few cinemas in the UK where it is possible to have an alcoholic refreshment while watching a film – as you still can today.
In 2009 the Rex acquired by the Purbeck Film Charitable Trust, and it became a not-for profit cinema run almost entirely by a team of dedicated volunteers. Further refurbishments made during recent lockdowns mean that the Rex is an absolute gem as the images below show.
After lunch we set off to meet the Wareham Court Leat and what an absolutely fascinating encounter it was.
Wareham Court Leat is one of only 30 surviving from medieval times; the Court was founded to regulate local trade and ensure that high standards of trade were maintained in the town. At the head of Wareham’s Court Leat is ‘Lord of the Manor’, Mr J D C Ryder, who succeeded his father to the title in 1986; his father had held title for the previous 58 years. Three officers are nominated by the Lord of the Manor and report directly to him. These are: the ‘Steward’ – his right hand man; the ‘Hayward’ – who looks after the ‘common land’ and the ‘Bailiff’ appointed to hand out arrests and summonses.
We were treated to a special Court Leat demonstration session, it usually meets every evening for a week in late November, when officials led by the Bailiff and Bell Ringer roam around the town wearing an eclectic mix of hats and ‘formal dress’. The group consists of over 20 people and their job is to inspect local businesses, checking for transgressions such as short measures or poor hygiene, armed with the tools of their trade including antiquated scales, a brush and tankards.
During our time with them the Aletasters checked that the brew at The Antelope was of the correct strength and temperature from behind the bar and the Bailiff then the jurors taste the offering before it’s passed around to the crowd in the Common Measure Pot. The Bread Weighers ensured that the loaves are of sufficient quality and substance using their balancing scales. The Carniter inspected some uncooked steak brought in from a local butcher for freshness, then cooked it up and passed it around for tasting. The Leather Sealer checked a belt for quality and stamped it. The Chimney Peepers inspected the fireplaces and flues to ensure there are no future conflagrations in town. The Scavengers, checked the toilet facilities at The Duke of Wellington for cleanliness to guard against the spread of disease. The images below attempt to capture what was an absolutely fabulous experience with much laughter throughout.
During the November session of the Court Leat fines may be issued to the landlord for rule breaking or to the public for misbehaviour such as talking over the Bailiff – fines consist of measures of alcohol added to the Common Pot, which becomes increasingly strong as the fines are added, and the Constables ensure that law and order prevail. Be aware that if you empty the Common Pot, you will be expected to fill it up again…! Two pubs are usually inspected each night, ending with a song from the whole group.
On the Friday evening the Court sits at the Town Hall, beginning with the striking of thirteen on the Town Hall clock, upon which the Jurors and Officials enter the courtroom. The officials give the results of their inspections to the Lord of the Manor and discuss matters arising from the previous twelve months, with a long lunch break from 1pm until 3pm at the Red Lion, and the election of the Officers for the following year in the second session.
Wareham is a lovely town, very similar to Bridport in many ways, and well worth getting to know more. A visit in late November when the Court Leat is in session is highly recommended.