May 2023 – April 2024
On 18 May I was privileged to be made Mayor of Royal Wootton Bassett. I have been a town Councillor since 2018 and was elected Deputy Mayor in 2022 becoming Mayor this year. As a Town Councillor, if you are elected Deputy Mayor by your fellow Councillors, you then are voted to be the Mayor the following year. So, you get a year of ‘training’, and I was lucky enough to serve my deputy year with Pat Farrow as Mayor. I learnt a lot.
Working with Pat last year we operated on the principle of ‘Team Mayor’ which we saw as an important contribution to Team Bassett. As Pat is deputy this year, yes we have reversed roles so you are going to have an established team working for you, Pat is going to contribute to future blogs as well.
Anyway, the Mayor Making was held at St Bartholomew Church, and was a lovely ceremony, very traditional pageantry and ceremonial, and despite my being very nervous – that I would forget to do something, or say the wrong thing, or trip on the long, and I have to say extremely heavy, robes – everything went well, and it was good that the twinning association from Blain joined for the evening too.
Well done to Mark our Town Clerk for making a portion of his speech in French. I was nervous enough about speaking in English, so deeply impressed. I am always slightly ashamed that whilst the rest of Europe manages to speak passible English, I don’t speak a second language. It was a full church; the music was great, and I think that everyone enjoyed the evening. Plus, it didn’t rain, which is always a bonus.
Please note everyone is welcome to come to Mayor Making, so do come along next year on Thursday 16thMay 2024 if you can, you can see me sign off and hand over to the next Mayor.
My daughter came down from Scotland to support me during the evening and told me that she had enjoyed the ceremony but that she wasn’t really certain what Mayors did, so maybe I should say: –
· We carry out civic and ceremonial duties, representing the town as its public face, you will see me at the Christmas lights evening and at the Remembrance service
· We attend a wide variety of Civic and Ceremonial functions and community activities there will be a Mayors Civic Service in October
· Mayors also represent the Council at Ceremonial events outside the town such as other Mayors’ Civic Services
· We promote the town and host visits from other towns and organisations
· The Mayor also chairs some Town Council Meetings such as Full Council
· As Mayor, I support 2 charities and I will tell you about them and why I am supporting them next time.
It is important to stress that the role of Mayor is not a political one in any sense, we are the public face of the town and work closely with our Town Crier and Sword Bearer, Owen Collier (who is the towns expert on all things ceremonial to support the town and promote it as a good place to live). Incidentally Owen is a fantastic source of information about the history of the town and if you get the chance go on one of his ghost walks.
It was Owen who explained that the scarlet wool robes worn by the mayor are modelled on the Medieval guild robes and the long sleeves were originally deep pockets in which the rents for the town were held when they were collected. As I mentioned before, the robes are heavy and good for appearances in winter, though walking the Carnival this year was quite challenging. Oh, and I must mention that the fur trim is faux, and not real, I couldn’t wear real fur. The hat is an 18-century designed tricorn black and trimmed with gold braid.
So far since becoming Mayor, in addition to participating in the Carnival procession, I have:
– Visited the Nature Reserve at the invitation of the Towns Environmental Trust
– Presented awards for the Photographic Society
– Attended the Mayor of Malmsbury’s Choral Evensong at the Abbey in Malmsbury
– Visited Miranda House, meeting the staff and residents
– Attended the RWB Town Rotary Club President’s evening
– Been present on the High Street for a thank the carers event with small local choir
– Attended a concert of summer music given by the RWB orchestra at the Academy
I have really enjoyed the events that I have attended so far, and as the summer moves on I have other events where I will represent the town, I am looking forward to meeting as many people as I can and will tell you about them in the next blog which I plan to write in about a month. Oh, and if you see me out and about on the High Street or at events come and say hello!