Mayor’s Report December 2015 – January 2016
4Youth Awards presentation evening – Tuesday 1st
It was my great pleasure and privilege to attend the 4Youth (formerly Youth Clubs Hampshire and IoW) presentation evening at Marwell Hotel. It was special for Sandra and I who, with our daughter Maria, had spent several months in close contact with YCH& IoW during Jubilee year 2000 as we created what is now the Whitchurch Youth Project. During the evening presentations were made to various clubs and their volunteer leaders and helpers. They selflessly give of their time and efforts to provide a service to the youth of Hampshire supported by 4Youth so ably. The icing on the cake for me was the point during the evening when both the leader of our Friday club here in Whitchurch, Barry Goddard and 4 of the young leaders, were presented with special awards.
Christmas lights switch on – Thursday 3rd
The switch on of the lights by the Carnival Queen, Father Christmas, the Mayoress and I was the culmination of a busy few days’ preparation for so many people. New for this year was the lantern parade organised by Colin Rees and his family and looking across from my position outside the Town Hall to the White Hart Hotel the lanterns of all different shapes and sizes created by various families in town made a wonderful sight. The children from Whitchurch Primary School were a joy to hear as they sang carols so beautifully to the delight of the large crowd gathered around The Square and Neil Turner with his guitar and singing led the community carol singing. There are so many people involved behind the scenes: Rob and his merry band, the Fire Brigade, the Festival Committee, our son and his family ensuring the lights come on at just the right moment, Father Christmas, the shop-keepers decorating their windows. Without the goodwill of so many people, Whitchurch would be the poorer – well done Whitchurch.
The Gill Nethercott and The Silk Mill Christmas Fairs
All that Christmas fairs should be with a dazzling array of stalls, entertainment, and good food. The Mill with its coloured light display in the windows was fantastic and added so much to the street scene. The jam jars with tea lights leading from Winchester Road to the Community Centre was a fairy tale scene not to be forgotten.
Expect Café style service
The Methodist Church held their Christmas cafe style service on the same evening as the lights switch on and was a place where Sandra and I found spiritual rest. We entered the church at a point part way through their evening when we were invited with everybody else to go to the front of the church and deposit one of our shoes in the steadily growing pile. Later we were encouraged to go and pick up a shoe (not our own) and return to our tables. We were then asked to think about and discuss what it would be like to be in another person’s shoes and what it would be like to be a refugee. Following on with the question “if several refugees came to Whitchurch how would the Methodist church react and deal with the situation” as Christians in Whitchurch we were especially challenged! The singing was just great and the quiet reflective prayers made for a fitting end to a very busy day.
Primary School Christmas Fair – Saturday 5th
Even when I have not been Mayor, Sandra and I have gone along to the Christmas Fair. Being Mayor this year made it really special. Every classroom and every space in the school was full to overflowing with all sorts on sale and crowds of people buying. The children had been very busy making cakes and gingerbread men, and grown and potted-on plants. It was a display of how working together can make all the difference to the success of a venture by the Friends of Whitchurch Primary School and what a success it was.
100th Birthday Party
Wow! What a thrill it was to attend, just for a short while, the gathering at the Gill Nethercott Centre prior to the 100th birthday party of Mrs Eileen Knight. We sat and listened to her as she recalled a great deal of her most interesting life. Mrs Knight explained how she remains fiercely independent; this was also confirmed in speaking to her son and the family who made us very welcome. Having presented Mrs Knight with a bouquet of flowers we bid our farewells and returned to the Primary School to draw the raffle as requested.
Christmas Fair at the Baptist Church – Sunday 6th
Rev Andy Fitchett made us so welcome when we visited the Baptist Church for their Christmas Fair. Activities for all ages were on offer and the real meaning of Christmas was evident, that this event coupled with their Christmas services gave them opportunity to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
AGM of the Princess Royal Trust – Monday 7th
I have to confess that I knew nothing of this organisation before the invitation to attend the AGM and although space does not permit me to go into great detail I would urge readers to discover more than I can write here. Care for the carers is the best way I can describe the work of the Trust and during the course of the morning we heard first hand from several of the staff about their roles within the Trust and how they delivered the services on offer. With 133,000 carers in Hampshire they will probably never be able to satisfy all the substantial needs out there but they go beyond the call of duty to try.
Singing for Fun Christmas Concert – Wednesday 9th
Just what it says on the packet, singing for fun – carols, solo pianist, a fantastic piano duet, rhyme and audience participation all packed into one evening. The Mayoress and I were again privileged to be invited to this annual event to celebrate Christmas in a gay and fun way. It was as expected, great entertainment with an interval allowing plenty of chatter and laughter, all to raise money for charity. Well done our local ladies’ choir – another entertaining evening suitable for all ages – refreshing.
The Basingstoke Mayor’s Charity Carol Concert – Saturday 12th
St Michael’s Church Basingstoke was the venue for this charity carol concert in aid of the Mayor’s charities this year, being Basingstoke Multicultural Forum, Ark Cancer charity and Inspire. In a packed church the concert was led by the Mayor’s Chaplin, Rev Kelvin Taylor who also gave an address. The Basingstoke Festival Choir led the singing and the Mayor Cllr Anne Court gave a Christmas message.
Singing for the Mind – Monday 14th
What a great time we had joining in the various songs and activities laid on at the Gill Nethercott Centre by volunteers who run this small but really important group. All the various homemade cakes and other goodies on constant offer really did mean that exercise was much needed! The singing and the exercise which are part of every meeting were enjoyed by all and it was fun. This is such an important outreach to those carers and cared for in Whitchurch, and like so many other things would not happen without the fantastic volunteers.
Funeral Service of a former Council employee
We attended the funeral service for Mr John Aydon, known by us all as ‘Geordie’ who was for many years our street cleaner in Whitchurch, a job he loved very much. The very well attended service was led by Rev Kelvin Inglis at the Church of England and we heard how Geordie was for some years a drug addict who was completely changed by a deep experience of finding his saviour Jesus Christ. Geordie worked hard to make amends for his turbulent life before he was ‘born again’ and was always supported by his wife Liz who was well known locally.
Christmas Window Competition Results
The windows of the local businesses were well decorated again this year and looked really wonderful coupled with the Christmas tree lights now erected above many of the shops and businesses.
Judging the winner for the Mayor’s shield awarded to the best dressed window was a real challenge to the judges as the standard was very high again this year. Following much deliberation over a week or so,the judges made their choice which, following some discussion was unanimous.
First place was won by Brian, Janet and Matthew at G Dowling and Sons in Bell Street for their display of a snow covered village scene with illuminated houses made from shoe boxes with a railway running round in the valley below. At night when all the houses were lit, it transformed the window into a magical snowy scene which won the shield. The Mayor and Mayoress Cllr Barry and Mrs Sandra Jackman presented the shield to the family at the shop on Christmas Eve and within a short while it took pride of place with a poster declaring them the winners.
Joint second place was Ian and Eileen at Clacy’s Garage in London Street with a lovely winter scene with children playing snowballs. Ian and Eileen always put on a wonderful show which is so appreciated by all.
Third place this year was Focus on Hair with the theme of Alice in Wonderland, it was extremely well thought out with its Hearts playing cards. Very cleverly done, creating a great deal of interest.
We express our thanks to all whom in any way made the effort to make Whitchurch a bright, joyful, gay and happy place to live.
Presenting the Prizes – Thursday 1st
Sorting out the winner of the ‘odd one out’ children’s competition was not an easy task as there was more than one. The scores were so tight that we introduced additional half marks for those who had been more specific in their description of the odd one out. For example, an additional half mark was given for the specific naming as Black Lace of the cassette tape placed in a shoe at the shoe shop. We eventually came up with first, second and third prizes. When delivering to the winners’ homes it was a treat to see their faces as they realised they had won a prize.
4th Platoon (Overton) Army Cadets Award Evening – Thursday 21st
I was invited to the Awards evening by Sgt Steve Slack who had done sterling work in organising this event to recognise the significant achievements of these young recruits. During the evening we were privileged to witness the presentation of awards gained by the cadets. I was particularly impressed by the opportunity cadets are given in training in such areas as military knowledge, drill and turnout, skills at arms and shooting, field craft, navigation, expedition training and community service. It was for service to the community of Whitchurch that I presented a framed certificate and commended the new recruits on their individual achievements. I reminded them of the promises they had made earlier in the evening, when being enrolled, to God, Queen and country and wished them all the very best in their future lives.
18th Hampshire Potato Days – Sunday 31st
Hampshire Organic Gardening Group had organised the 18th ‘Potato Days’ weekend over 30-31st January. We arrived on a dreary day with drizzle in the air to the sports hall at Testbourne School for this popular annual event. The weather may have been dull outside but inside there was a buzz in the air on the final afternoon of the event. Much was on display and being bought by the many visitors from far and wide. Local organiser of the event Phil Cooper, who works hard to ensure the success of this event, said that numbers were down slightly this year but he was pleased with the turnout. Having bought more than we had planned for we said our goodbyes and trundled home to more gardening.