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Mayor’s Blog – Youth Festival, Green Week and Greta Berlin

Bridport Hats, Youth, Green Week, Greta’s Sculptures, Orange Trucks and Magic Tenners.

The past ten days have taken us through a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts, initial shock and disbelief on hearing of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II; reflecting on her life and what she meant to us, welcoming our new King and wondering what his reign will bring, all culminating in the solemn spectacle of Her Majesty’s State Funeral.

As we return to ‘normal’ the challenges of the energy and cost of living crisis, the impact of the war in Ukraine and how our new Prime Minister Liz Truss and her Government is going to respond to them are once again thrown into sharp focus and loom large in our lives.

In this Blog I have gathered together reports of events that happened before the passing of The Queen and flag up some up and coming events.


Some twelve years since the first Bridport Hat Festival it was back in its full absolutely bonkers glory, after a missed year in 2020, and a scaled down event in 2021 due to that pesky Covid virus.
Did you know that the world Famous Bridport Hat Festival was the brainchild of Roger Snook, proprietor of Snooks the Hatters here in Bridport? Incidentally apart from an amazing array of hats also sells snuff, suspenders, wyncyette pyjamas, socks, cummerbunds and many other accessories for the well-dressed gentleman.

I am told that one day in his shop, a flash of inspiration hit him, and when he told his friends some of them asked if he was mad. But thank goodness he didn’t take it personally and his moment of inspiration has become one of the most looked forward to events in the busy Bridport calendar.
This year’s Hat Festival saw the town thronged with people wearing the most amazing headgear. During the course of the day I met people who had travelled from as far afield as Teignmouth, Salisbury, Bristol and Nottingham to take part, such is the reputation of this most joyous occasion. The images below give a flavour of the event.

As well as the promenading and gathering in Bucky Doo and along a closed South Street there was music, hat stalls, food and drink and a hat tossing competition on Millenium Green. The Green also played host to the best hatted dog competition some of whom can be seen in the images below.


The Covid pandemic has had a profound impact on all our lives and the impact on young people has been particularly significant. For that reason, I decided to make them the focus of my Mayoral Year 2022-23. Throughout the coming year I will be making every effort to support and encourage all our young people whenever and wherever I can.

I recently hosted the launch of the Bridport ‘Youth Festival’ in Bridport Town Hall. I call it the Bridport ‘Youth Festival’, but at this point in time a name for the event(s) has not been decided upon. It could be The Bridport Festival of Youth or simply Youth Fest or even Bridport’s Festy-McYouth-Fest who knows? Or should we be referencing Young People rather than Youth?

In order to give this Mayoral Year a really dynamic focus and purpose, it is my intention to bring it to a climax with a week of events and festivities centred around the young people of Bridport.

I would like that event to be:

  • An opportunity to showcase all that the young people of Bridport have to offer across as wide a range of areas as possible.
  • An opportunity for the young people of Bridport to take a lead in being creative, in generating ideas and delivering them.
  • An opportunity for Bridport to show its young people what it has on offer for them.
  • An opportunity for the people of Bridport to show their appreciation for their young people.

Everyone in receipt of an invitation had a connection with the young people of Bridport and by bringing them all together, for perhaps the first time, they had the opportunity to meet, inform each other about what they do and share ideas about opportunities where they can be of mutual support.

That evening,In Bridport Town Hall, there were people from the world of sport, the arts, education, business, commerce, agriculture and the wider community. All I asked was that they arrived with an open mind.

Following my introduction of the idea there was an opportunity for those present to share information and ideas in small groups before coming together again to bring the evening to a conclusion.

If the idea is to be a success it is vital that it is not just for young people but it is driven and curated by young people. Experience gained having worked with young people for much of my working life I know how creative they are. I know that they are capable of taking the initiative. I know they are capable of turning complex ideas into reality. The Plott Day earlier this year on Plottingham Field and the football club mural give us but a small taste of what is possible when young people are given the opportunity and a bit of encouragement and a little financial support.

Tuesday evening was the first step, a fuse has been lit, and my sincere hope is that those present departed full of enthusiasm for the Bridport Youth Festival and brimming with ideas as to how they and/or their particular organisation can be part of this most exciting opportunity.

If you have an interesting idea to contribute, want to get involved or would like to become a sponsor then please email me at:


Bridport’s Big Green Week Saturday, 24 September – Sunday 2 October, kicks off with a festive gathering on Millennium Green. The lovely Millennium Green will be filled with a range of stalls, refreshments and picnicking, all linked by a Green theme and throughout the event there will be live music on the stage to entertain you.

The theme for the 2022 Big Green Week focuses on local acts of restoration: for our land, our rivers, our seas and how these actions can serve to restore our own hope, energy and perspective.

Many of the events are still being planned, but events on the calendar include Bridport Tree Planting, Bridport Town Council (Energy Champions), mass bike ride through town, visiting a beaver’s lair, monitoring river health, ending with a refreshing swim in the sea on the final day. For the latest details click HERE and then click on the opening gathering or events.


One event is already up and running. You are invited to write a poem, share your favourite quote, draw a cartoon to share your hopes, your worries, your anger or determination with a wider audience. Your contributions will be displayed at the opening gathering on a wall of words and can already be seen in random places about town. Send you contribution to the Great Big Wall of Words to: or bring it along to the opening event on Millenium Green.


Earlier this year, local artist Greta Berlin very generously gifted ten of her life-size sculptures to Bridport Town Council and a few days ago I had the pleasure of thanking Greta at the official unveiling of eight of then now displayed around Riverside Gardens. Additionally ‘Skateboarder is appropriately located at Plottingham Field and ‘Mother and Child’ at various indoor locations.

Three of Greta’s sculptures – now go and discover the others for yourself.

Growing up in St Ives, Cornwall during the 1940-50’s Greta was heavily influenced by local craftspeople, artists and the fishermen whose everyday activities she closely observed. A self proclaimed observer, Greta learned about the world through ‘osmosis’. As her early career as a potter and teacher of ceramics evolved, she became more and more interested in the sculptural potential of clay.

Then in the early 1980’s she met Cornish sculptor Max Barrett and under his guidance she began working in stone. On landing a commercial commission Greta had to learn to weld, which opened up a whole new world in terms of scale to her sculpture, and steel has been her main focus ever since.


Greta said of her gift: “With the arts in education being eroded and funding vanishingly rare we are in danger of becoming a culturally barren country. I wanted, in some way, to redress the balance. Bridport has a wide reputation as a community for the arts, and a town council sympathetic to our cultural life, while looking for a permanent home for my collection where a wider audience would be found. I was delighted that Bridport Town Council embraced the idea so enthusiastically.

The installation of the sculptures was curated by Cleo Evans of the Arts Development Company and installed by the Bridport Town Council’s outdoor works team.


Bridport Gig Rowing Club (BGRC) is honoured to have been invited to take part, as the only Dorset Club, in a unique event called the Reflections Flotilla. The event, which takes place on the River Thames in London on the evening of 24th September, was originally organised as part of the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations. It has however been decided to continue with the event as a tribute to our late Sovereign, and, to honour the accession of King Charles 111.

The flotilla comprises of 150 vessels, both manpowered and motorised, all of which will be illuminated with white lights. They will glide peacefully down the Thames giving spectators the opportunity to reflect on the reign of Her Majesty. The Queen’s Row Barge Gloriana, rowed by oarsmen including Ben Fogle, who will lead the procession.

The fleet will start at Albert Bridge, float downriver, through Central  London, passing under seven river bridges all of which will be beautifully lit by a special display created by the lighting artist Leo Villareal. The Reflections Flotilla will complete its journey in splendid fashion with the raising of Tower Bridge, which will itself be bathed in purple light.

Eight members of the BGRC will be taking part in Bathsheba; one of BGRC’s gigs based at West Bay. She will be coxed by Peter Slimon and rowed by Tom Jones, Cat Macphee, Robbie McElhinney, Heather Coley, Lesley Tidballs, Simon Crafter, Michelle Sage and Andrew Crawford.
London’s River Thames has played an important role in many Royal and State occasions over the centuries, and this memorable event will continue this age-old tradition. Reflections is thought to be the first illuminated flotilla seen on the Thames for over three hundred years.
The event will also raise up to £20,000 for the RNLI, supporting the construction of a new lifeboat station at Waterloo Bridge.


Have you noticed the number of large orange lorries that travel along the A35 between Bridport and Dorchester? One day, a few years ago, I was travelling to Dorchester and I noticed an immaculately clean, bright and shiny orange truck driving towards me. By the time I reached the Monkey Jump roundabout I had seen three more. And so my curiosity about these vehicles began.

I travel to Dorchester to visit and look after my grandchildren at least once a week and since that first conscious encounter with the gleaming orange M. Way & Son lorries, it is rare not to see at least one. The current record is five in one journey. Why are there so many? Why are they so clean? Where are they going? What are they transporting and similar questions needed answering.

Whilst on holiday in North Devon recently with my family, my son-in-law contacted M. Way, which is based in South Molton, to see if it was possible to drop in and find out more about the company. Despite this being a somewhat unusual request they were very happy to host us.

On arriving at the site one Saturday morning we made our way to the office and were greeted by none other than Merv Way who founded of the company in 1973 and all those years later is still a very hands on proprietor. Back in 1973 Merv was living in a council house when he bought his first lorry and his wife looked after the books. Today he has a fleet of over 80, around 50% of which were parked up for the weekend on the site.

As he showed us around the site and his fleet of lorries he explained why we see so many as we travel the road between Bridport and Dorchester and why they are so clean and immaculately kept. The ones with an orange trailer are travelling back and forth to Portsmouth where they are loaded with grain which is delivered to west country mills and animal feed producers. It is because they are transporting foodstuff that the trucks pulling an orange trailer have to be so immaculately maintained, that and the pride the drivers take in their vehicles. Orange trucks pulling a black trailer are hauling scrap metal or paper, and those with a grey or white trailer are transporting aggregates. Each of the lorries have the name of the driver on the side and the name of their partner on the front.

It transpired that Merv is also a long serving South Molton Town Councillor and was recently Mayor which gave us something in common to share our experiences. It is amazing how a casual observation whilst driving one day unfolded into a fascinating story. Keep your eyes peeled and see how many you spot when travelling between Bridport and Dorchester.


Three more fantastic local businesses for you to visit and support by taking something home with you.

Baboo Gelato – West Bay
Businesses working with or supplying: Forde Abbey Fruit Farm, Washingpool Farm Shop, Elwell Fruit Farm, Eastfield Farm (Holy Cow), North Perrott Farm Shop, Footeprints, Black Cow Vodka, Conker Gin, Dorset Sea Salt, Haymans Bakery, Craig’s Dairy, Swanage Dairy, Bowl Cut, J T Property Services, Express Refrigeration, Pineapple Estate.

Soulshine Cafe– South Street
Businesses working with or supplying: Springtail Farm, Tamarisk, Framptons, Footepriints, SW Garlic, West Country Catch, Angie Porter, Ruby Wright, Hollis Mead, Washingpool Farm. Wobbly Cottage, Gilt & Flint, Curious Kombucha, Dawood Asparagus, Three Daughters, Feed the Soul, Selected Grapes, Mercato Italiano, Hoots, Black Cow Vodka, Suzanna Hubbard, Baboo, Darwood Vineyard, Marshwood Scrubrose

Tina’s Retro Clothing – St Michael’s Trading Estate
Businesses working with or supplying: Footeprints Red Brick café, Karen Lings Yoga, Instant Redress, Livingstone Textiles, Gemma’s Flowers, Ropemakers, Beauty & Beyond, Bella’s, Becca’s Fabric Larder, Snips, Cilla & Camilla Instant Redress

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