Monday, 15 October 2007

My speech before standing down as the 633rd Right Worshipful Mayor of Wells as delivered in the Royal Courts at Wells Town Hall on 19th May 2007

Final speech for 19th May 2007

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen.

What an honour it has been, to be elected the 633rd Right Worshipful Mayor of Wells.

I would like to thank all of those people, who have given me their personal and professional support since taking office.

It is comforting to know everyone here today and many who are not; have helped and assisted me over the year.

This year for me has been very different, very lively and very special.


When I set out to do this role I wasn’t too sure what was involved.

I’ve always been a fast learner – which was a good skill to have as my first engagement was on the Sunday after being made Mayor.

I can remember turning up at Studio Psalm for their relaunch. I was very nervous – in fact when I cut the ribbon – I actually forgot the name of the shop and called it something completely different! This wouldn’t have been too bad if I hadn’t said it over a microphone with 40 people assembled!

Anyway, that kick started over 430 meetings, events and engagements – right up until this afternoon.

I can remember some conversation when I first became Mayor on how I would fare.

There was I think a mixed bag of opinion. Now, it’s for the history books to deicide how I’ve done over all.

I can’t list all of the people, groups and businesses that I have met and seen….there is seriously too many.

I would though, like to reflect on a line I used in my inaugural speech which is taken from a former Mayor’s speech.

In 2004, Cllr. Colin Price finished his year with an account of his activities at Mayor Making.

One of the many things he said was, and I quote: “…you never really know your own town, until you become it’s Mayor”.

This was said by a man who was born and bred in Wells.


I quoted that in my inaugural speech as I thought it was an excellent way to describe the journey I was to embark upon.

Well Colin – you were spot on! I’ve learnt a lot.

The best bits? Without meaning to sound corny, they were all best bits.

I was able to mix with people from the very top of society along to those who have fallen on hard times and need the support of society to get back on track.

I think I managed to cover the whole of society as it exists in Wells today.

Everything I done, I tried to keep within my four objectives. They were:

· 1st: Highlighting issues that surround young people
· 2nd: Encouragement and sustainability of continuing growth in our Market Town economy
· 3rd: Supporting the many organisations that are a vital part of the fabric of Wells
· 4th: Maintaining a safe environment

It has been a very busy year – for which I can’t really find a word to describe it.

You could use perhaps ‘Awesome’, perhaps ‘Great’, perhaps ‘Magnificent’. What ever word one chooses, it doesn’t really explain what the year meant for me.

It struck me the amount of commitment shown not just by residents, not just by people who trade in the City, not just by people who visit, not just by those who live around the City – but by everyone who has ever known or visited Wells – the jewel in the Somerset crown.

Wells was once described to me as like ‘living in a postcard’.

During this year, I discovered there is a lot more to the City than that

Behind our wonderful architecture, lies a vibrant, cosmopolitan, respectful, spirited, established and caring community

As a market town, Wells trades in a whole load of commodities. Some of which are sadly missing in the wider world;

o We trade in COMPASSION

o We trade in COMMITMENT

o We trade in SPORTS

o We trade in ECONOMICS

o We trade in GOVERNANCE

o We trade in RELIGION

o We trade in MUSIC

Whilst it’s easy to pretend that in Wells we ‘don’t do social issues’

The strong community spirit forces a sense of social responsibility to ensure that when things don’t go quite to plan in someone’s life – there is always a support group around the corner

Wells is changing and developing – perhaps it always has done

This may be a shock for some – however if you think about it – you don’t exist successfully for over 800 years without the occasional make over

I hope it continues to change and move forward

After today, I hope we can all reflect on what Wells had, what it has got now and what it will have in the future

So after being your Mayor, what will I miss?

Well loads to be fair!!

The most obvious thing is my chain…or Bling as I like to call it.

Also The Mayor’s Parlour which is a wonderful room and the setting for quite a few events at all hours of the day… and early morning! Some of you in this room have not had the privilege of the Mayor’s Tour of the Town Hall and cells. Believe me – you missed a real treat. Just ask any of my friends!!!! I learnt during the year – that before the Mayor’s Parlour was created, previous Mayor’s had to entertain at home….now anyone who has EVER visited my house knows that (despite my cleaner’s best efforts) I only really tidy when my Mum comes to visit!!!

But it’s the people aspect that I’ll miss the most. Having a licence to ask any question of anybody is wonderful when discovering what makes people tick!


As I said earlier, I have many people to thank. They are too many in numbers for me to thank individually. So If I miss anyone out on my next part of the speech – I really do appreciate what you did for me and all of the unreserved and unconditional support you have given.

Firstly I would like to offer my deepest thanks to all of my staff in Pickwicks. Without whom, my Mayoral year would not of run as smoothly as it did. I know many of the team moved their work patterns around so I could do my role.

I would also like also reflect on the sad loss of one member of staff. Ann Wain died a couple of months ago after a battle with cancer. Ann brought much to Pickwicks – but in terms of her support for my Mayoral year, it was 110%. No matter how long I needed to do a visit for or how little notice I had for a reception – Ann would without question, rally and do the business.

Ann spent the whole year nagging, mothering and generally looking out for me. Ann is very much missed.


I have not seen much of my family over the past year. Spending both Christmas and Easter on duty meant that visits were few and far between.
I very much missed my family, especially my nephew Stanley (who celebrated his first birthday only one month ago).

However I knew that they have given me their full support and love.


Thanks must now go to the longest and deepest suffering group of people who know me – my friends!

They have put up with my ranting, reading my blog, babbling on about maces, chains and standing orders. They’ve put up with me continuously talking about my diary, the last and next reception and nattering about how Councillors behaved in meetings….

My friends have also put up with me not being around as much as I would have been. Through all of this they are all still talking to me and no doubt feel relief my year is now at an end.

Amongst the support they gave – They kept my feet on the ground.

They ensured that being Mayor didn’t go to my head – and if it did – I was left in no uncertain terms how unimpressed they were.

That is the job of true friends. I’m truly appreciative for all they did for me.

My friends also kept me fed (because I still can’t cook) and watered throughout the year – ensuring that I was never left alone or without someone to speak to.


My three charities for this year: Macmillan Support, YMCA Spencer House and the RUH CT Scanner Appeal have all been wonderful. They have all supported me and allowed me to take part in many activities. For the RUH we had the James Bond night – for Macmillan Support I attended their coffee mornings and assisted in street collections.

I can still remember being in Spencer House for the week – seeing how a young person would live there. I tried to cook some food one night and set the fire alarms off three times. It took over 45 minutes to clear the room of smoke.

All of the charities supported me and allowed me to take part in many activities.

There have been many businesses who have supported my over my year too. They include:

· The Silver Studio who supplied my cufflinks and various presents. Keith and Lesley have been fabulous in selecting presents and cufflinks for me (often with vague details on what I want and usually very little time)!
· Thanks to The National Schoolwear Centre who supplied my embroidered suit carrier, shoe bag, rutsack and many other t shirts and polo tops. Sally Robertson very kindly allowed me to change in her changing rooms from my works stuff into suit and bling (which was almost daily)! In the summer, Sally also supplied some emergency white shirts (fully pressed and often within half an hour’s notice).
· Of course I can’t forget the service I have had from Christina and Joe Borastero. Wells Dry Cleaners have ensured that my suits and best shirts have been spotless and maintained. They adjusted all of my suits for the chain and have promised to sow them back up. They have also had to manage the constant flow of table cloths from the Mayor’s Parlour as there are alsorts of stains on them…..!!!

None of my receptions and parties would ever have taken place without the help of people giving out the drink and nibbles. I would like to thank Rosemary Swales; Stan Weatherhead and Stephanie Webb for their help in this respect.

I would never have got to or from anything without the help of Lizzie’s partner Neil Levington who ensured Wookey Taxis were on call – however I soon discovered they don’t do past 3 o’clock in the morning and it can be a jolly long walk home!

There are many in the Town Hall I would like to thank.

First I would like to thank the City Councillors – both those who served before the elections and afterwards; for their support during meetings (for which I was always very nervous).

I would like to thank Kevin, Nick and Bruce who helped keep my Parlour together and who sorted the Town Hall for various events.

Special thanks must go to William, the City Archivist, who assisted me with various documents and presentations.

The Town Crier, Len Swales has also been a very active person within my year. Len helped at many receptions as well as receiving guests at the Town Hall. Len’s strongest skill was putting people at ease and caring about my guests. Many thanks Len for your support.

Without this next person – I would have been very lost. Lizzie Webb acted as my Diary Secretary for the whole year. She ensured that everything was put in place and nothing clashed.

Lizzie soon got very used to the Mayor over promising himself – which required a whole load of diplomacy to change around timings. Without Lizzie I would have lost most of my tickets and could never have organised many of the amazing engagements I embarked upon.

Lizzie was also the Mace Bearer for the Council. I would like to thank her for adding this job onto her many other pressing roles!!

PAUSE – present flowers

Gill Weatherhead was my Sergeant-at-Mace for the year. Gill not only supported me at many receptions but also escorted me on civic events. Gill’s attention to detail ensured the Council’s protocol was followed and maintained. Many thanks Gill for the hard work.

PAUSE – present flowers

I would now like to thank the Town Clerk Keith Donoghue for his advice and counsel over the year. There are often many pitfalls that arise – for which he managed to steer me past all of them.

We had and have an excellent professional relationship – which sometimes meant we disagreed. However, with a focus upon the bigger picture, all ended up well in the end.

Keith, thank you for your support and may I wish you the very best of luck in your marriage to Maggie Holcroft next month.


One of the most important roles surrounding the Mayoralty is the Chaplain. For which, I think, I got the very best you can get.

Dr. Lavinia Byrne has performed the role of Chaplain wonderfully.

As well as being a Chaplain – Lavinia has also acted as Consort to various events.

Lavinia has given me support and a friendly ear throughout my year. She has given me wise advice on matters not just concerning the Mayoralty – but also my wider world. Thank you Lavinia for everything, you’ve been amazing.

PAUSE – present the Chaplain’s wine basket

That then leaves me with just one other person to thank. It’s someone who has shouted at me when needed (and sometimes when not), someone who was continuously looking out for me and someone who just wanted to chat to me. It is of course my Mayoress and friend, Julie Nicholas.

Julie (who is married to Martin), was called Mrs. Davies – Julie Nichols or just ‘a guest’. We often had great fun trying to explain that Julie was married to someone else and just a friend of mine. The expressions on people’s faces often said “yeah right – bet your trying to keep this one quiet Mr Mayor”.

Julie has joined me in many of the events I was either invited to or initiated. One of which was my idea to cycle around the Carnival route. This was great fun…for me – but less so for Julie! I have been told that she reserves the right to get her own back for that one and believe me she will!

Julie was never afraid to tell me that I boring other people or speaking a load of gibberish – or that I looked a complete prat in a panama hat!

So Julie, I have been very lucky to have you as my Mayoress – thank you for your love and support. It has been very appreciated…..

PAUSE – present the Mayoress badge

Well ladies and gentlemen, that is it……

Just before this satellite finally falls out of range and all the screens at the Command Centre go snowy – I would like to say to every resident and supporter of our City; that you all ‘DO’ for Wells and very much ‘DID’ for me…….A VERY BIG THANKYOU for that!

I’ve come to the end, I’ve finished, I’ve completed the course, I’ve done the deed….

It has been the best year of my life. Thank you for being here at the end.

As they say on Hot Fuzz (for which I’m on the credits) “For the Greater Good”. I hope this year has been……

No comments: