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Mayor’s Blog – An Eventful Weekend

An Event Filled Bank Holiday Weekend in Dorset’s Eventful Town

Wow, so many things going on this weekend, it was impossible to go to them all. Bridport really lived up to its reputation as Dorset’s Eventful Town.

Brandens Trail

Brandens Trail was created in 2009 in memory of Branden Wayland, who was diagnosed with cancer when he was just three-years-old. Sadly he passed away two years later. He attended Bridport Primary School and it is fitting that the trail is located next to the early years classroom where he was taught.

Twelve years later the trail was in need of refurbishment and Bridport Young Persons Action Trust (BYPAT) and Arthur Woodgate have coordinated a major refurbishment. Thank you, Arthur, for all you have done to bring this splendid project together. The refurbishment means that it is even bigger and better than ever.

Bridport Town Council’s outdoor work team has carried out a great deal of the work. Thank you, Daryl and your fantastic team for all you have contributed.

Others who have been involved along the way include Bridport Gardening Club, The Living Tree, Bridport Round Table, Rotary Club of Bridport and Bridport Lions Club.

Thank you all for your much valued support and I am sure the trail will continue to be enjoyed by the pupils at the school for many years to come.

Sale For Ukraine

Saturday morning at 10.00am saw the opening of a 3 day Sale for Ukraine, where items that were donated, but for a variety of reasons are not appropriate as aid, were on sale. This was in order to raise funds that will be used to support the work here and at the other end in Poland, Moldova and Ukraine.

To think this all started with a phone box on South Street where people were able to drop of items for the people of Ukraine. Very soon the phone box was full, then Jane’s shop was bursting at the seams. All thanks to the people’s generosity. Then in the nick of time, Martin Ridley of Haywards & Co offered an empty unit at St Michaels Trading Estate to the group.

Very soon an extremely efficient operation was in place. Donations received were checked and organised into various categories and boxed up ready to be sent to Ukraine. When I visited a few weeks ago, I was amazed how well organised the whole operation was and was particularly impressed by the way in which the boxes of aid were being labelled up in English and Polish making it easy for those at the receiving end to quickly distribute the contents where it was most needed.

Very soon the first load was on its way and to date numerous more loads have been delivered. As a result a strong link has been forged and I am sure lifelong friendship has been made both here in Bridport and in Poland, Moldova and Ukraine.

The Sale for Ukraine has been a resounding success with people queueing to get in at various times across the three days. In addition Cafe Bean on Souh Street pronidrd breakfast on Sunday morning the procede from which were added to the pot. The net result is an amazing £7,000 plus raised. Fantastic!

All of this is thanks two amazing women Jane Wain and Claire Nuttall who stepped up to the plate, determined to do something practical in response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine, which all of us have been witnessing nightly on our television screens. Thank you Claire and Jane and everyone else involved both here in Bridport and on the road delivering aid. You are all amazing.

Community Governance Public Engagement Stall on Bucky Doo Square

I joined Bridport Town Council’s Town Clerk, Will Austin and Cllr Gill Massey for the first of a series of opportunities for people across the town to find out more, and voice their opinions about the Community Governance consultation being carried out by Dorset Council. Having the opportunity to engage with people directly and explain what it all means proved to be a really enlightening 3+ hours for all concerned.

It was clear to all three of us that the overwhelming majority of people who spoke to us were wholeheartedly in favour of the proposal to merge the parishes of Allington, Bothenhampton and Walditch, Bradpole and Bridport Town Council into one council that represents the interests of all.

What surprised me most was the number of people from outside the current Bridport Town Council parish area that were strongly in favour of the merger, indeed several were not even aware that they did not live in Bridport.

With only one exception, even those few who initially expressed concern about the One Council For Bridport proposal changed their minds when the reality of the idea was fully explained to them. This included two ex parish councillors from two of the other parishes. In fact it was their experience as a councillor on a small council that led them to believe that a merged council with a bigger voice was what Bridport really needed if it is to develop cohesively, and prosper as a town.

To find out more click the link Film – ‘One Council For Bridport’ to view a short film which outlines the ‘One Council for Bridport’ proposal.

Plottingham Fields – Public Engagement Event

I also managed to join David Dixon, Daryl Chambers, and Terri Foxwell who were running a consultation event to gather community views on plans for the skate park and other changes at Plottingham Fields, supported by skatepark provider Maverick. The feedback received will help inform a planning application and will be a useful contribution to funding bids.

The skatepark proposal can be viewed here: Plottingham Skate Park Proposal

Comments should be provided via an online questionnaire: Questionnaire Or email:

The closing date for comments is 13 May 2022

A Swarm of Bees

Just after I arrived home ready for a cup of tea and a spot of lunch my phone rang to inform me that the bees in the Community Orchard had swarmed. So I gathered my bee swarm catching gear and set off for the orchard.

On arrival I asked several people who were sitting in the orchard where the swarm was and was met with a combination of blank expressions and a look of terror. I quickly located the swarm on the cordon apple trees which meant it was reasonable accessible. Tucked up safely in my bee suit and with my gloves on, I coaxed the swarm into the box I had placed below them and waited to see if the remainder would join the main body. Success! I must have managed to get the queen bee into the box and those remaining in the tree gradually made their way there too. Later that evening I returned to find all bar 6 bees in the box, so I closed it up and sealed it ready to transfer them to their new home the next day.

Sunday was a pretty damp day and the weather forecast was for a respite from the rain and some sun in the late afternoon. Before I could re-home the swarm, I had to clean their new home. The hive had failed over the winter and the old comb needed to be removed and the whole thing gone over with a blowtorch to kill any remaining pathogens. Once that was completed I was able, with the help of my sister in law Jane, to shake the swarm from the box into the hive and tuck them up safely in their new home.

The final job was to process the honey we had been able to save and this was carried out with the help of my grand daughter who particularly enjoyed sampling and quality controlling the task.

Park Yoga

Sunday morning saw the first of a series of morning yoga sessions in St Mary’s Park. Despite the drizzle, a hardy group of yoga enthusiasts gathered for the first session.

breathtaking yoga session, improving wellbeing and creating a positive ripple effect throughout communities.

Park Yoga aims to connect people to the natural outdoors, through a relaxing, energising and breathtaking yoga session, improving wellbeing and creating a positive ripple effect throughout communities.

The sessions run throughout the summer from May to September for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

All sessions are held on Sunday mornings. Sessions begin in May and run throughout the summer until the beginning of September.

To find out how to get involved contact Charlotte Wild, 07709976636, or email

A 350th Anniversary Celebration

The Congregation of Dissenters & Unitarians at Bridport 1672-2022 held a special service and lunch to mark their 350 celebration on Sunday and what a lovely occasion it was.

The following lines are taken from a talk given by Rev Elizabeth Harley:

Our first Minister was the Rev Richard Downe who was one of nearly two thousand clergymen who resigned or were ejected from the Church of England in 1662. Three such were in Bridport at the time. On 1 May a decade later in 1672, the first legal meeting of the dissenters met in a private house. The congregation grew and flourished but not without some drama. Rev. Richard Downe was licensed to preach as an “Independent Dissenting or Congregational Teacher”. This was allowed under an Indulgence from King Charles II. However the license was short lived and in 1680 Downe and “his people were imprisoned for nonconformity”.

It sounded like they continued regardless as it has been documented that in July 1683 Mr Strode of Parnham ‘let himself into’ the Independent Meeting House and broke up all the seats and pulpit and then continued with the same destruction in other places in Bridport. Just an interesting side note that may add more colour to the picture of Bridport in the 1600s – in 1668 an enraged populace (due to the hearth tax) stoned the taxcollectors that came to the town.

They were not a rich congregation, yet, Bridport made rope and it is believed that Richard Downe was a rope maker by trade and had been ordained by a Presbytery.

In 1676 there were more dissenters in Bridport than the rest of Dorset. This sounds about right and we still have this rebellious spirit today.

I could not agree more. I was particularly amused by the following:

If members were late to council meetings in those days, they had to forfeit a bottle of wine. It is noted that the Rev Thomas Collins Colfox was often late (like our own Philip Colfox) and had to provide a bottle. I will be reinstating this as soon as possible.

The service celebrating 350 years and shared lunch afterwards was a really joyous occasion with much laughter alongside a few more serious moments. It was the first time that I have been a member of a congregation that included at least 4 dogs, who were all incredibly well behaved and clearly enjoyed being amongst people.

To learn more about the history of Bridport’s dissenters, this most fascinating chapel and its congregation from the following short presentations put together by Rev Elizabeth Harley.

Bridport Community Orchard – Mayfest

The Bridport Community Orchard’s Mayfest was once again back on the calendar on Monday afternoon after a two year gap due to you all know what. I joined the volunteers to help set everything up in the morning and then managed to relax and enjoy the event in the company of my grand daughters amongst others. Despite a few raindrops the event was very well attended and thoroughly enjoyed by all.

I will let the images below taken by Tim Russ speak for themselves.

Another Birthday Party

The Bank Holiday weekend came to a close at another birthday party. This time two good friends were celebrating a significant milestone birthday and it was really nice to end what had been an extremely busy few days amongst friends in celebration and simply enjoying each other’s company.

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