A final photograph of the Mayor and Consort, in County Hall.
So the municipal year ends, and we return to where we began: Hertford’s Mayor Making ceremony.
This this took place this evening, and I handed over the magnificent chain of office to my successor, Cllr Patricia Moore.
Following a reception hosted by the Vice-Chairman of Hertfordshire County Council, Cllr Dave Hewitt, in the Chairman’s office at County Hall, I put on the Mayor’s red robe and chain for the final time and processed into the County Council’s chamber for Hertford Town Council’s Annual Meeting and Mayor Making ceremony. My Chaplain Rev. Barbara Routley said the opening prayers, and I chaired the start of the meeting. Cllr Matthew McCormick proposed Cllr Patricia Moore as the new Mayor, seconded by Cllr Peter Ruffles. Tricia took the oath of office, and then we processed out of the chamber to enable her to put on the Mayoral robes and chain, and for me to put on a blue robe signifying that I am a Past Mayor, and my black tricorn hat now adorned with a silver chain to denote my Past Mayor status.
On returning to the council chamber, the new Mayor spoke about her background, particularly how she came to be a councillor, and her hopes for the year ahead. A vote of thanks to me was then proposed by Cllr Chantal Geall and seconded by Cllr Isabel Sigmac. Both said extremely kind things, which I am not sure I entirely deserved, but they were lovely speeches.
In response, I said:
Madam Mayor, a year ago today I stood in this chamber and concluded my speech accepting the office of Mayor of Hertford with a literary quote that referred to the potential for adventures to happen.
The past year has indeed been an incredible adventure.
I will in a moment reflect on some of the highlights, but firstly the very important task of thanking those who have supported me during my time in office.
There have been a particularly large number of civic and ceremonial occasions, and these have been superbly supported by Hertford’s team of Sergeants-at-Mace.
I want to pay particular tribute to Mace Bearer Joe Caruana. This evening is the last occasion at which he will be carrying out this role, and in it he has been a dedicated servant to Hertford Town Council and to Hertford for 20 years. Joe was appointed a Stave Bearer in 1993, and three years later became Mace Bearer. It is a role he has undertaken with great diligence and dignity, and I know that all the Mayors who have served during his time have greatly appreciated his knowledge of the role and commitment to it. Joe was further honoured by his peers last year, becoming Prime Warden of the Guild of Mace Bearers.
Sadly another of our dedicated Sergeants at Mace, Malcolm Potter, passed away earlier this year. Malcolm had served as Hertford’s Sword Bearer since 1996, and was both liked and respected by all who came into contact with him in this role.
The Sergeants at Mace are very much part of the life of Hertford Town Council. I am grateful also to the Town Clerk and staff of the Council for their support. In particular to Tricia Carpenter, the Civic Administration Manager, for her assistance throughout the year, and to Tom Hardy, the Mayor’s Secretary. Amongst many other tasks, Tom has been responsible for the organisation of some of the important events of my Mayoral year, including the Vintage Tea Party, the Civic Dinner, and the Mayor’s Quiz. The latter raised a considerable sum for my adopted charity for the year, the Alzheimer’s Society in East Herts, as well as being an enjoyable night of friendly competition between over 200 participants.
Thank you to Cllr David Poole, my Deputy Mayor, who has attended engagements that I could not be present at, either through clashing with other Mayoral events, or due to the on-going requirement to turn up to work.
My thanks also to my Chaplain, Reverend Barbara Routley, who has been a calm presence at many occasions, and was particularly and rightly praised by many for her address at the Remembrance Sunday service.
The Mayor’s Cadet, Sophie Wilson, has been diligent in attending civic occasions, and has been an excellent representative of the Hertford & Ware Sea Cadets.
My father, John, has undertaken the role of Mayor’s Consort. As well as that of chauffer, logistics manager, and holder of my handbag whilst I cut ribbons, made speeches or posed for photographs. He has always been in the right place at the right time, and a reliable source of information and advice. He now gets a very well earned rest….for a whole four days before my mother takes on the office of Chairman of Epping Forest District Council next Tuesday, and he gets to wear a different Consort’s badge. My family have been supportive throughout the past year, and I want to sincerely thank my mother, Mary, and David and Hannah.
Turning to some highlights of the year. It has been such a full and varied year that picking out particular moments seems unfair. I want to tell you all about it; but don’t panic, I won’t. For the full story, my blog detailing every event remains online at mayorofhertford.com.
I have Tweeted and blogged my way through the year, and these devices in themselves have occasionally resulted in unexpected things happening.
On my way home from work on the train one evening I wrote on Twitter that if Boris Johnson was personally voicing the messages on the London Underground system advising people of possible travel disruption during the Olympics, perhaps First Capital Connect should be letting me do likewise in Hertford. A couple of days later I was in their offices at King’s Cross station recording the local version, which was played out at Hertford North station.
There have been many very joyful occasions through the year.
There was the spine-tingling moment when one of the chain of Jubilee beacons was lit on the roof of Hertford Castle, and the large crowd below spontaneously sang the National Anthem. The wonderful feeling of community when a smaller but no less enthusiastic group gathered in the town centre at 8am on the first day of the Olympics to take part in ‘All the Bells’, ringing all manner of bells loudly and without stopping for 3 minutes. The moments when the whole of Hertford appeared to have gathered on the streets of the town centre to see the first Hertford Carnival procession for 12 years, and when the Olympic Torch Relay came through; both occasions in glorious sunshine during a summer which so often didn’t feel a terribly sunny one.
There have also been many more solemn moments. It was a great honour to lay a wreath at Hertford’s war memorial on behalf of the people of Hertford on Remembrance Sunday. Together with the Deputy Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, David McMullen, in June I presented Diamond Jubilee medals to members of the emergency services and armed forces, recognising their service to our community. In December I welcomed visitors to Hertford Castle for Isabel Hospice’s annual Lights of Love ceremony, one of a number of occasions when I was able to support Isabel Hospice events during their 30th anniversary year.
I have been very privileged as Mayor to twice meet members of the Royal Family. Just this week the Duchess of Gloucester at Haileybury, and last summer Her Majesty the Queen at a reception at Hatfield House. The ballet lessons as a 5 year-old when I learnt to curtsey finally paid dividends!
Then there have been the many occasions which might be seen as the ‘bread and butter’ part of being Mayor of Hertford, but which I have found to be hugely interesting, enjoyable and informative: the concerts by young people, charity AGMs, attendance at local theatrical productions, sporting fixtures and school events. All these and more have enabled me to greatly increase my knowledge of our town. I started the year thinking I knew Hertford, but I end it with a wealth of new information that I am sure will serve me well in my continued role as a Town Councillor.
At the beginning of my year in office I said that I intended to pay particular attention to the business and voluntary sectors.
I have visited a number of businesses over the course of the year, new ones starting up in the town, and those that are more established. I have found businesses hidden in parts of the town I was previously unaware of, and at events have met people working hard to build and grow businesses. The commonly held idea that Hertford serves only as a commuter town for those working in London is very far off the mark.
I have had many opportunities to meet people whose voluntary work hugely enhances life in our town, whether it is helping people, providing opportunities to others to take part in sporting or cultural activities, or organising events. I recently hosted two receptions to recognise volunteers, and quickly found that there are so many individuals giving their time to charitable, sporting, cultural, educational and young people’s groups that I had to limit the invitation to two representatives from each organisation to attend on behalf of all the town’s volunteers.
These are the people who hugely enrich life in our community. Often in the course of my Mayoral duties I have been fortunate to meet up with those have served as the Mayor of Hertford over past decades. Many of them continue to be active in local life, volunteering their time in a variety of ways for the benefit of Hertford and its residents.
It has genuinely been a great honour to be Mayor of Hertford, and it is an honour now to join the ranks of the Past Mayors. I will do my utmost to follow their example of continuing to make a contribution to local life, to do my bit as a resident proud to call Hertford home to take pride in its past, and work to ensure its future as a pleasant place to live and work, with a thriving community.
Madam Mayor, I wish you a year that is as interesting, enjoyable and memorable as mine has been, and assure you of my support throughout your term in office.
Following the Mayor Making Ceremony, I had a final duty to perform presenting the Past Consort’s badge to my father. He couldn’t resist saying a few (very nice) words!
I also gave my father a wooden box with a picture of Hertford Castle on, which I had commissioned from Hertford based Andy Chapman.