This week: Holocaust Memorial Day, Charity Marathon, West Dorset Singers, Court Orchard Tree Planting, Mayoress Report.
Holocaust Day – The Fragility of Freedom
Last Friday I travelled to Dorchester to represent Bridport at the Holocaust memorial Day Event 2024 held in the Corn Exchange. It was an extremely sobering and emotional event with some graphic stories and pictures which left me feeling quite drained and at times stunned by the horrors that human beings can inflict on others. At this event I became aware of the 10 stages of genocide (worth looking this up) and how seemingly minor impositions by those in power can slowly escalate with terrible consequences. I have included a couple of quotes from a document written by Dr. Gregory H. Stanton:
“Ten Stages of Genocide” is a formula for how a society can engage in genocide. Genocide cannot be committed by an individual or small group; rather, it takes the cooperation of a large number of people and the state. The genocidal process starts with prejudice that continues to grow. By knowing the stages of genocide, citizens are better equipped to identify the warning signs and stop the process from continuing. The ten stages of genocide are: classification, symbolization, discrimination, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, persecution, extermination, and denial.
If you would like to find out more there is plenty of information on the Internet, try this link to the Genocide Education Project:
I feel this event covered many things that are too complex to be detailed in a Mayor’s Blog and it wasn’t just confined to Jewish people in World War 2, it also covered “The Night of the Gypsies or Zigeunernacht” and added to this some time was spent on the “Rwandan Genocide – 100 days of conflict”. The latter really raised concerns in my mind over plans to send refugees to a country that (apparently) has it’s own issues regarding peace and freedom. Again too political for me to comment further.
I will end this part of the Blog on a brighter note, there were performances from Sunninghill School children reading their own poetry, each student was asked to create a piece of work which represents the fragility of freedom, symbolising their emotional responses to learning about Holocaust Memorial Day. We were also treated to delightful singing from the Cloud 9 Chorus. The event concluded with an opportunity to light candles and reflect on what we had seen and heard during the event.
Pictures courtesy of Dorset Bays
On Saturday morning I was invited to Morrisons to start a charity fundraising event, running 26 miles + on a treadmill. Rather than just a “Chain, speech and smile” event I must have been feeling the effects of “Dry January” and volunteered to run the first mile. 12 mins, not a bad time for a Mayor?
The event was staged by Sue Saddington with the co-operation of Morrisons and their Community Champion, Samantha. The aim was to raise money for the National Autistic Society and it was a great success raising over £644.
Sue had previously tried to get a place in the London Marathon with the National Autistic Society as she had some experience of the frustrations a family can feel when one of their children suffers from Autism, it made her realise how important the need for change is and, more importantly, the understanding that is needed.
She e mailed me afterwards and said, “Lots of people had a story, it seems ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) touches a lot of people. We had many ladies telling us they have Autistic grandchildren.
The general feeling from everyone we spoke to, with varying connections to ASD, some personal; was that what we were doing was amazing because the support, even now, just isn’t there. What I wanted to add is how touched we all were by the support from the shoppers.
All that said, we had an amazing day yesterday!
Link to my JustGiving page with more info:
West Dorset Singers
Saturday evening Bridget and I were invited to a concert at St. Swithun’s Church and it was an exceptional performance. The West Dorset Singers (previously the Elizabethan Singers) are a joy to hear and the Orchestra that performs with them are inspiring to say the least.
The performances were The Magnificat by John Rutter, the Canticle of the Virgin Mary which is found in the opening chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel, the point where Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth after learning that she is to be the mother of Christ.
This was followed by Stabat Mater by Paul Carr. His Stabat Mater is a setting of the first and third verses of the 13th century hymn portraying Mary at the foot of the cross. Intriguing as it portrayed the internal torment of a grieving mother, rather than the Queen of Heaven so often portrayed in choral music.
These two compositions were masterfully conducted by Matthew Coleridge who is one of the UK’s most exciting emerging choral composers, debuting in the 2023’s Classic FM Hall of Fame top 100.
A rare treat to experience such a wonderful evening of music and singing, definitely something I will support and enjoy again.
Mathew Coleridge is hoping his “Requiem” will be back in the top 100 again in 2024 and needs our votes: cast your vote now at:
Finally, and I will be giving this a try, on March 2nd there is an event at St. Swithuns for aspiring singers, “Come and Sing” choruses from Mozart’s Requiem. It is an opportunity to go along and have a try with experienced people who will be there to help,. March 2nd, 13.30 to 17.30.
The Court Orchard Project
On Sunday I went along to the Court Orchard Project in the recreational field in Court Orchard, Allington, after being invited to plant the first of 24 Fruit Trees as part of this exciting Community run Project.
Bridport Town Council are supporters of this and will be organising and supplying new play equipment and a football pitch to bring new life to this corner of Bridport.
Bridport Tree Group are able to gift these trees, worth more than £400, as the next stage in the project. On Saturday they planted 20 native species in two corners of this site and it was heartening to see some local residents and children there helping and being very much involved.
Joe Hackett and his tree planting group know I am a firm supporter of their efforts in Bridport and I was looking forward to my first official tree planting engagement with great anticipation. I had seen such occasions on the television, surely just turn up, say a few words and hold the tree in a pre-dug hole while others fill the hole in?
Bridget and I eventually located the site tucked away behind houses and we met with the community volunteers, adults and children, who had turned out to help with the planting.
I was taken to the spot to plant my tree (Court of Wick, a Dessert Apple) but I could only see a stake and a spot where a patch of turf had been removed. I raised an eyebrow at Joe Hackett, after all I was expecting a hole waiting for my tree to go into but Joe had other ideas!
“Plant it there Mr. Mayor” I was told. It soon became apparent that the Mayor was to be given a spade to dig his own hole! Fortunately I am no stranger to digging my own holes (as some of my Councillor colleagues can attest to) and I had soon produced a suitable one of sufficient width and depth that was approved by the experts. After carefully putting the tree in the hole I was told that the soil had to worked around the roots by hand, of course, my hand, silly me! Once I had completed the task I was then invited to tie the tree to the stake, the one I had also driven into the ground with a hammer.
A great time was had by all and it was great fun to be really involved even if it was only one tree. Hopefully I will still be around to return and pick the first apple in a few years!
The tree planting Group still have native species trees to give away free (max 3) to members of the public, if you are interested please contact Joe Hackett:
Also they have a Facebook page worth following: https://www.facebook.com/bridporttreeplanting/
I was really pleased to deliver the Morrison’s hospitality hamper to the CST group leader at Bridport Connect on Tuesday.
It was the third session for the participants and they are enjoying the stimulating “brain gym” activities.
For more information about Cognitive Stimulation Therapy groups please contact : Age Uk on 01305 231387 or see their website: