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Mayor’s Blog – A very busy fortnight!

Mayor’s Blog 152

12th June – a very busy and enjoyably busy day!

 A lovely afternoon celebrating the 10th anniversary of St Mary’s Edible School Garden.

It was a great pleasure to be invited to this event, one which I have held close to my heart since its beginnings.  An amazing project to take on and even more amazing to have kept it going all this time.  It just shows the importance of the project to all those involved – year on year, giving the children and their families the opportunity to experience the fun and excitement of growing, harvesting and not to forget tasting their own home-grown food – some for the first time.  I know some families have taken allotments over the time the project has run.  Fabulous.

Our Town Crier, John, opened the afternoon’s proceedings, and after that we enjoyed some really delightful singing from the school choir.  We went on to explore the garden – rich and abundant with all manner of vegetables and fruit to be harvested when ready.  There were bugs to look at and try to identify, lots of tasters (not of bugs!) and everything was free.

There were long queues at the make-it-yourself pizza table, with dough to pull and top with delicious choices and then baked.    Lots of smiley faces there!

Entertainment from Martin Maudsley too – never to be missed!

This is a garden created over the past 10 years with loyal and able gardeners, children, parents and other helpers making it what it is today.  This has been achieved by the work and love put in by the whole community, working as a team – they have all contributed to much to make this happen.

What an incredible achievement – it really is something for everyone in our town to be proud of.

There is also support coming into the project from beyond this community –which is supporting the schools through some very difficult times – and I was very taken with the inclusivity here at St Mary’s school, which of course we are encouraging right across Bridport, so that everyone feels welcome everywhere and at all times.

The kindness, generosity and acceptance by everyone, and to everyone, which is clearly expressed here at St Mary’s, is a great advertisement for our Rights Respecting Town Status which has been in place for some 6 or 7 years now, and as far as we know, we are still the only town in England to have declared itself with the aim to be Rights Respecting, and what a difference it can make to a community – as St Mary’s School is showing.

If you want to follow the activities – here’s a link: (6) Facebook

Well done everyone!

Please enjoy these photos – all approved by the Head Teacher – courtesy of Robert Golden Pictures.  Thank you Robert, for allowing me to use these beautiful pics in my blog – much appreciated.

School Choir

Beautiful singing from the school choir.

St. Mary's School Edible Garden
Multicultural Tasters
Multicultural tasters
Wonderful art
Wonderful art
Anne Rickard

Just to prove I was there….a little wind-blown!

Evening of 12th June – Mercato Nero launch

 Whilst I must be careful not to advertise businesses or I’ll be here all day  – following on from our visit to St Mary’s garden was a very pleasant evening, being so warmly welcomed, and invited to assist in the soft launch of Mercato Nero, a new cocktail bar to accompany their excellent Italian restaurant and shop on the Dreadnought Estate in town.  Lovely atmosphere, excellently and expertly staffed, also expertly and tastefully decorated by a local artist and has a really good and friendly feel.  A great addition to Bridport’s evening ‘offer’ I would say, and we wish them all the best in their newest venture.

14th June – Drop-in wellbeing event in BYCC

This was inspirational.  A fulsome and extraordinary collection of so many of the Social Prescribing teams here.  I really didn’t know so much was available to all of us.  It really expanded our knowledge of the incredible organisations, all ready to pick us up if we fall, no matter what the problem may be.

The Youth Centre hall was packed with stalls and packed with visitors too – a very popular event.  There are so many kind volunteers, giving so much of their time for us all, and covering so many different aspects of health and wellbeing, all on our doorstep, and all keen to take the trouble to bring their organisations together in one place to enlighten us.   If this isn’t our community coming together for all, I don’t know what is.

Special thanks to Sarah and Pauline for their excellent organisation and for welcoming us so warmly.

Drop In Wellbeing
Drop In Wellbeing Event

We were persuaded to take part in a Tripudio demo.  Can you spot us?  Good fun and all about ‘keeping moving’.

14th and 15th June – Bridport Beer and Food Festival

This has to be one of the most popular annual events in the town’s calendar.  On Friday evening the Bridport Beer Festival opens, run by The Round Table, with umpteen sponsored beers and ciders, good live music, food and lots of happy people.  Whatever the weather decides to do, it’s always a great night and this was no exception.   It’s a time for meeting old friends and making new ones and Asker’s Meadow lends itself perfectly.

On Saturday we arrived, all dressed up ready to officially open our famous  Food Festival but it wasn’t just the festival that opened – the heavens did too!  We ran across the grass to the announcements gazebo where we sheltered and awaited the go-ahead.   The rain stopped and our Town Crier, (who arrived fully robed and be-hatted on his bike) was able to make his announcements without being soaked.  Thanks John!

What an amazing feat of organisation it is.  It takes months of hard work and preparation to put this event on.  Thanks indeed to the committee of dedicated volunteers who give so much time and effort over the preceding months, taking on specific roles and coming up with new suggestions and putting their ideas into action.  I was on the committee some years ago and I really know how much input there has to be.

The cookery demonstration tent is always a winner – this year with the famous Choudhoury family showing us how Indian food is prepared and enjoyed – lovely that Helen’s legacy continues through her family – excellent and experienced chefs in their own right.

There are many other interesting aspects of course – one was the debate on food security – and the most wonderful children’s tent, with the usual experts on hand, and which seemed to be teeming with children all day – all ages catered for (0-99) from what I saw!

Looking forward to next year’s event already!

Let’s remember though that all this doesn’t necessarily all happen without the odd unpleasant incident.  For example, this year, two days before the festival started, our Senior Town Council staff, and ground staff too, having put in so much time and effort into preparing the field for the festival, found themselves having to take on some aggressive travellers who had broken into the field and were refusing to leave.  They were persuaded eventually, only after the police were involved.    An extra ‘thank you’ to BTC staff for their strength of character and loyalty.

I totally forgot to take any pics!  If you weren’t there to experience it yourself, do look at Bridport News dated 20th June – photos and info there.

Saturday 22 June – Art Unlimited First Young Person’s Bursary 2023/24

I was invited to attend this presentation of Art Unlimited’s first Young Person’s Bursary 2023/24 award to Kathryn Conway of Woodroffe School, Lyme Regis.

Taken from their press release (not verbatim) – “Howard Flanagan, owner of Art Unlimited and initiator of this inaugural Award presented Kathryn with a cheque for £2,500 at 3pm on Saturday 22nd June in the Art Unlimited Gallery on South Street in Bridport.

The Bursary has been funded by entry fees from the 2023 Art Unlimited International Open Art Competition and the generosity of an anonymous donor. This inaugural Award was created to support young student artists within the community and their further education.

Howard Flanagan said, ‘We are keen to work closely with both schools and colleges as well as the business community in order to foster young talent and develop a platform form here in Bridport from which they can shine.’

Students from local schools including Bridport’s Sir John Colfox Academy and Woodroffe School in Lyme Regis were invited to submit a 250-word personal statement stating what this award would mean to their future artistic career.

Kathryn’s stood out as this excerpt clearly demonstrates: ‘What this bursary could provide for me is resources to create art and to sell my work as an artist, as well as access to paid-for online courses in addition to my university studies. Having the ability to take further courses would drastically improve my skills, ready for my career as an artist. Having higher skills would also limit competition against me in finding the best jobs, something that is even more important nowadays with the pressure created by AI.’

The 2024 Competition is currently open for online submissions until Wednesday 31st July 2024 with this year’s entry fees going towards at least two 2024/25 Bursaries.

The shortlisted artists will be announced on 16th August 2024.

An exhibition of all the finalists’ works will be on display at The Malthouse Gallery, Town Mill, Lyme Regis from 10th – 22nd September 2024.

If you have an interest, go to for details on how to enter, judges, prizes and sponsors.”

Well, I was very pleased to attend.  I also got some encouragement to re-start my painting after advice that I got from Kathryn and her sister.  Art Unlimited is a great gallery too!

Young Person’s Bursary 2023/24
Young Person’s Bursary 2023/24

Photos courtesy of Graham Hunt.

23rd June – Bridport Chamber Orchestra

 It was kind of the organisers to invite us to this very special concert, and what a wonderful afternoon of fabulous music this turned out to be, from start to finish!

Our Bridport Chamber Orchestra did our town proud and enthralled the audience.   A really beautiful, sensitive and professional performance of some excellent classical music, conducted by David Hedges, who has come to us with huge and impressive experience – and it shows.

The solo clarinettist, who performed in the first half – the highly esteemed  Guillermo Ramasasa –  was utterly outstanding.   It was nothing less than a privilege to listen to him.  I have never heard a clarinet played so expertly and with such colour and feeling.  I would fully recommend seeing him perform if ever you get the chance.  He just literally blew us away.   Judging by his CV we must have been very lucky to get him in Bridport.

I must also mention the Leader of the Orchestra – Alexanda Ennis, who also comes with a glittering CV.

Alan Williams must also be especially thanked for the very kind and generous support he gave, which made this performance possible.

We are all looking forward to hearing them again in their winter concert.  Highly recommend!

Definitely WOW-worthy!

Bridport Chamber Orchestra Event


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