Speech -- in full -- of Marlborough’s outgoing Mayor Edwina Fogg
May I extend a warm welcome to everyone here, gathered for this ancient ceremony of mayor making.
This will be my 31st such occasion, which means I’ve heard 30 incoming mayors set out their stall for the year ahead and 30 retiring ones review their time in office.
With my practiced teacher’s eye, I looked back to my last year’s speech to assess which hopes had come to fruition. One aim had been to foster the fruitful relationships formed by the Town Council.
In respect of the Marlborough Community Orchard, this has quite literally been the case with the establishment of their gift of the Diamond Jubilee Plantation on The Common and with the highly successful Wassail, a custom from other areas I had long hoped to bring here.
Firmer links were forged with 4 Military Intelligence Battalion. I was privileged to visit them on several occasions this year, one of which was to give medals to those just returned from a tour in Afghanistan. The Battalion marched in our Remembrance Day Parade, a solemn and dignified gathering with military precision in its timing.
The now customary Civic Dinner was hosted in their honour, where guests were enthralled to hear the soldiers’ experiences at first hand.
I was eager to promote our ties with the Merchant’s House Trust and have worked closely with them this year. Their Open Gardens took on a Jubilee theme and I wrote a preface in the accompanying commemorative booklet, extolling this “jewel in the crown” of our street scene in Marlborough.
I was able-without bias I swear to award them certificates for the best window displays for the Jubilee and at Christmastide. Last year I said that it was important to reach out beyond parish boundaries to our link communities in the wider world. Pursuant to this aim, I have worked closely with the Brandt Group to promote our links with Gunjur, with Gambians attending several functions at the Town Hall.
To further our relationship with Marlborough, New Zealand I have been in regular touch with the Mayor, Alistair Sowman, and others: the culmination of this was an exhibition and reception to promote our ties and to formally receive, from the Acting High Commissioner for New Zealand, Rob Taylor, the steering oar from a replica whaler, rowed in the Thames Pageant, a gift from the people of Marlborough NZ to the people of Marlborough.
It was good to see so many kiwis present, including Sir Mark Todd and the current equestrian team, who are based locally. There was one disappointment on the link front. I had thought it a good idea to team up with a town within striking distance-Coutances, in Normandy, seemed ideal. It is a town in many orchards and has a Jazz Festival, “Sous les Pommiers”.
My beautifully crafted letter (not composed by me, I hasten to add) to the Mayor received no direct reply, merely one of their promotional Jazz leaflets….. an entente not too cordiale!
I’ll run swiftly through a few highlights of the year. The Olympic Torch in May (was that our only day of summer last year?) was a wonderful occasion, bringing thousands of patient and good humoured people into the town, a prelude to the spectacular and successful Olympics that were to come. Stonehenge came to Marlborough in the form of Sacrilege, an installation by the artist, Jeremy Deller.I t was a sensational blow up bouncy version which gave huge pleasure to the hundreds of people, young and old, who climbed on to it.
Not a bad turn out as it happened, considering that I was sworn to secrecy until press embargo was lifted 10 days before event!
An event that I had not planned far in advance, but was an idea that came to me, was the Open Day on February 16th. The whole Town Hall was opened for exhibitions, family films, postcards of old Marlborough, the cells and, in the council chamber, information about our insignia and artefacts from the Officers of Dignity.
One of the things I was most eager to do was to have a permanent commemoration of her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. To this end, as Deputy Mayor, I approached Jamie Robb of Marlborough Tiles, who readily agreed to produce a striking exhibit: the beautiful Tiled Mural is before us in this room, unveiled on October 19th by Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cornwall.
Last year I mentioned that I would be presenting Waits Badges to honour musicians who had played at civic and other occasions. I have awarded twelve of these: to, to name a few, a bagpiper at mayor making, to the St. Mary’s bell ringers, to the young heralds who greeted the Duchess, to the Marlborough Community Choir, the Marlborough Choral Society and the Marlborough Concert Orchestra.
It was a recognition of the wonderful music making that goes on in the town and of the hard work in rehearsal to make performances such a success.
My thanks, then, to these minstrels and to the groups I am about to mention, who have helped me to achieve my aims this year.
To my indefatigable Jubilee Committee, who worked tirelessly for months before I became mayor to help me plan and coordinate some 22 events for the Jubilee celebrations. To the Lions, who responded to my need for stewards on so many occasions, from Stonehenge bounce to Open Day, to Susie Fisher and my Prospect Hospice Committee, who, through hard work and enormous commitment, helped to raise £8,000 for the Mayor’s Fund for the Mike Bracey Appeal.
All members of these groups received Commendation certificates, as did many traders for the Jubilee flower and window displays and children for the quiz on Open Day.
I am nearly done and end with three projects close to my heart and which I was keen to implement:
1.Fogg’s bogs. Our late Town Clerk, Derek Wolfe, and I began a conversation with Wiltshire Council to do a deal that would involve getting their permission to sell the Chantry Lane lavatories so that we could reopen and refurbish the more convenient Town Hall ones.
After Derek’s sad death, I continued the dialogue with various departments at various levels until finally a way forward emerged to make it happen. So, Fogg’s bogs can move from singular to plural with a change of the apostrophe, as Val Compton pointed out on her blog.
The details are now in the very capable hands of our Town Clerk, Shelley Parker…… Sorry, Shelley!
2. During my six years on the council, I felt increasingly embarrassed by our dreary and dated website so pressed ahead to get quotations for a new one. This was launched on May 1st and, although in its infancy, has a bright and welcoming front page, a presage of better things to come.
3. As Mayor, one inevitably sees the insignia close at hand. It was obvious to me that the badge and collar and day chain needed some expert restoration-and that was before the badge fell into my lap during a schools’ debate at St. John’s!
I asked Peter Page, the distinguished Ramsbury goldsmith to restore them, which he has done beautifully. He also scrutinised our 17th century maces and was able to give enormous detail and new information on them.
This was subsequently written up in a report by David Sherratt and is now added to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s knowledge and understanding of them.
I'd like to extend thanks to our local media for the support they have given me and the Town Council this year. There's no point in creating initiatives if people aren't kept abreast of what's going on and the G and H, Wiltshire life,
The Adviser, Marlborough Town and Country, Wiltshire radio and of, of course, our very welcome new kid on the block, Marlborough News Online, do a great job in getting the message across.
Marlborough News Online has done such extensive coverage of the mayoral year that it has provided me with a personal scrapbook of memories.