Thursday 19th December - I attended the Chairman of NCC's Christmas Carol Service at Angel Square along with Mayors and Chairmen from Kettering, Rushden, Milton Keynes and East Northants. We were also joined by the High Sheriff Nicholas Robertson DL and Lord Lieutenant David Laing. It was very nice afternoon of carol singing and my first visit to Angel Square where we were made to feel very welcome. After the service we enjoyed a reception with mince pies and hot drinks.
Friday 20th December – I attended the annual Bedesman Day when we commemorate the Bedesmen of Higham Ferrers. We paraded from the Town Hall with our stand-in Mace Bearer and Bedesman Geoff Moore leading the procession of local dignitaries including Deputy Lord Lieutenant Anne Burnett, myself, the Town Clerk Sandra Mitcham and the Bedesmen themselves. We attended the service of St Thomas in St Mary's Church where we were met at the entrance by Reverend Michelle Dalliston, Father Tom McLean and Reverend Lesley Dinham from the Hope Methodist Church. Inside we were joined by the ladies of the United Charities organisation who were also former Mayors of the town, Celia Ingram, Anna Sauntson and Christine Kirk. After the service we then were led to the Bede House for tea and coffee and the traditional roast beef lunch with wine and dessert. The Prior, Stuart Wilby then presented new Bedesman David Manning with his official badge and we heard speeches from Deputy Lord Lieutenant Anne Burnett, myself and Bedeswoman Marian Knott, in which we all thanked the ladies of United Charities for their work in making it such a wonderful day.
Saturday 21st December – We had our Christmas Farmers Market on the Square. It was a busy and vibrant market day, especially with Rushden Town Band playing festive music. I had the Town Council gazebo up to sell tickets for a raffle where you could win the Mayor's Christmas Hamper full of 27 different Christmas themed goodies. With the help of Sylvia, Kathleen and Pam Whiting we sold a fantastic 190 tickets at £1 each. The winner was drawn at 12.30pm and the prize given to a delighted customer from Chelveston. I was also very pleased to sell 22 tickets to my next Mayoral event, Fynnius Fogg at the Working Men's Club on 1st February.
That evening I attended the Mayor of Sandy's Civic Service at Sandy Parish Church, which was a delightful service in front of a large congregation including the Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, and Mayors from Rushden, Raunds, Huntingdon and Godmanchester.
Sunday 22nd December - I attended the Carol Service for the Mayor of Rushden at St Peters Church, along with the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress of Rushden, Mayor of Wisbech, Deputy Mayor and Mayoress of Huntingdon and the Mayor and Mayoress of Raunds. We enjoyed a nice service and seasonal refreshments.
Monday 23rd December – I dropped off a selection of food and cleaning products to the local food bank to help with needy families over the Christmas period.
Tuesday 24th December – It was time for the festive Christmas Carols on the Square organised by the Swivel Club. This was arranged for between 7pm and 8pm with Raunds Temperance Band and Northampton Male Choir. At around 6.45pm it looked like it wasn't going to be well attended, but by 7pm hundreds of people swarmed on the square. Various people, including myself, gave quick readings, but the unprecedented level of visitors meant inevitably the sound system wasn't good enough and we discovered we didn't have enough carol sheets! It was a lot more popular than was expected. Armed with this knowledge, the Swivel Club want to do it again next year and will ensure they are better prepared. Regardless of the sound and crowd issues a lot of people I spoke to said they had very much enjoyed it and were glad they came to join in. We received suggestions for next year, including mulled wine and roasted chestnuts and the Swivel Club will hopefully be able to provide a great experience for residents next Christmas.
Sunday 5th January 2020 - With Christmas over for another year it was time to help take the 75 Christmas Trees down from the various locations along the High Street. We received many compliments about the lights this year along the way and look forward to making Higham sparkle again next year.
Wednesday 8th January – Idistributed letters to numerous local businesses to ask for support in providing raffle prizes to my upcoming events. Without the incredible local support I receive I could not make as much money with my fundraising and I'm grateful to everyone who donates a prize.
Monday 13th January - I attended the meeting of the Tourism group, as I'd had an idea of using either Chichele College or the Bede House for my 6th and final Mayoral fundraising event. We discussed doing a joint event between Tourism and the Mayor – an evening of 40's music to commemorate the 75th anniversary of V.E Day.
Tuesday 14th January – As a member of the Community Centre Working Party, myself and Cllr's Jackson, Reavey and Gardner met up with Executive Officer Jane Austin for a tour of Moulton Community Centre. It provided a valuable perspective as we continue ongoing talks about a potential new Community Centre in Higham Ferrers.
Saturday 25th January – I again attended the monthly Farmers Market where I was joined by Cllr Nigel Brown and later Cllr Tina Reavey. I had a visitor who was coming from Ashwell in Herts to see me and members of tourism to look at venues for our VE Day Event on May 8th and I met her at the Bede House to discuss the event. In the afternoon, along with the Mayor and Mayoress of Rushden we were invited to an afternoon tea party in the Bede House that was organised to raise money to support a 4-week volunteering expedition to build a sustainable community for the local people and help with deforestation in Borneo.
Sunday 26th January - I attended the Holocaust Memorial Day at Kettering Borough Council Chamber hosted by the Mayor of Kettering. We enjoyed a simple service to remember all those who were affected by the Holocaust.
Monday 27th January – As part of the ongoing charter project we unveiled the Victoria Charter Display at Ferrers School as part of a project to widen local schoolchildren's understanding of the charters and their importance in Higham's history. The Principal Mrs Angela Smith, her staff and pupils warmly welcomed us to their assembly. Carol Fitzgerald opened the proceedings with a talk on the charters and what an important part they played in the development of Higham Ferrers before I said a few words, making sure to thank the tourism group and specifically Cllr Anna Sauntson who spearheaded the charter project itself.
Saturday 1st February - I booked Fynnius Fogg, a fantastic local 60's cover band for my 4th fundraising event. Due to a last minute booking error being discovered we had to move the venue with less than 2 days notice which led to a bit of panicking but it still went ahead and everyone had a great night. Massive thanks to the Rushden Bowls Club who accommodated us last minute and went out of their way to ensure we had what we needed. Many thanks to all who supported me including Cllr Pam Whiting and Cllr Peter Tomas for donating raffle prizes and Pam for her support on the evening. Thanks also to the Working Men's Club who admitted their own fault in the booking error and made a donation as compensation to my charity. In all £1500 was raised which now takes me up to around £7000 total with 3 events left before the end of my Mayoral year.
Monday 3rd February – Back to the charter project, I attended Henry Chichele Primary School with Carol Fitzgerald and assistant clerk Alicia Schofield, where we unveiled the 1604 Charter of James 1st which will now be on display at the school.
Wednesday 5th February – Both the Mayoress and I were invited to Matilda the Musical, which was performed by pupils at the Ferrers School. It was an enjoyable evening and good to see such talented local children.
Thursday 13th February - The Mayoress and I joined chains from around Northants and Cambs at a Tapas evening at La Estrella in Rushden High Street hosted by East Northants Council Chairman Cllr Dudley Hughes for his charity Service 6. Reverend Michelle and her husband Right Reverend Christopher Dalliston along with Cllr Sylvia Hughes provided the singing which was very much enjoyed.
Saturday 15th February – The Mayoress and I attended theMayor of Huntingdon's Masquerade Ball at Huntingdon Town Hall. Everyone embraced the masquerade idea and got into the spirit of the evening. It was a really fun evening with live music from a 17-piece band and great food, certainly an evening to remember.
SATURDAY 21st MARCH - Rushden Bowls Club – Irish Night with music from Dubliner Jed McCoy and a 2- course Irish themed menu with Irish Stew and Baileys Cheesecake. There will also be an Ireland-themed quiz and a raffle. £20 per ticket, available now from the Town Hall.
SATURDAY 2nd MAY – Market Square – Mayor's Market with games, family activities, entertainment, traditional maypole dancing and crowning of the May Queen, pavement café, bouncy castle, ice cream can and much more! 9am – 12noon with only nominal charges for activities and refreshment.
FRIDAY 8th MAY – Bede House - VE DAY 75th Anniversary Celebration in the Bede House with a 17-piece mainline band and fish and chip supper included in the ticket price. 7pm to 11pm, £10 a ticket.