Well, what a year! 141 civic engagements, 357 miles travelled within Knutsford and a further 1,269 miles representing the town elsewhere. Mr Mayor, Thank-you for deputising for me on other occasions when I couldn’t be in three places at once or when the venue was sadly inaccessible.
Those who have heard me speak of my views on volunteering and the voluntary sector, know I think it is the thread which stiches the fabric of society together. I had thought quite a lot of this nature went on in Knutsford but I wildly underestimated it. It has been a real eye opener seeing all the benevolent individuals and groups within the town and hearing of the good works they do. The ‘many threads of the fabric’ if you will. Knutsford’s cloth is golden indeed.
You may recall a year ago I said, “I’d be the first to agree I’m no poster-boy” so I must apologise to Knutsford Guardian readers who have seen me grinning at them over their cornflakes at the breakfast table for as many as 6 times in the same edition. There was also the ‘Knutsfordian’ exhibition, where my slightly scary portrait was captured on canvas. I’ve also been ‘photo-bombed’ by the Chancellor and been in many a selfie by younger residents. So I may need to revise my poster boy comment albeit a little too late.
That said, I am perhaps most fortunate not to have been Mayor of High Wycombe.
I’ve heard it said by some that, “Behind every good man stands a good women”. If that is true, I have been doubly blessed. Those that know Jacquelyn will know we are like ‘chalk and cheese’ so, Jacqui, thanks for indulging me over the last year and supporting me metaphorically and literally throughout it, even at engagements on Christmas Day and on your own birthday (both this year and last).
Now to the other woman in my life! Clare (my PA) is a god-send with, it would appear, boundless energy, enthusiasm and good spirits. I could not have done so much without her efficient and effective control of my diary (and me for that matter).
Ever with an eye on the Equalities Act I must give grateful thanks to two men too: The Town Clerk for keeping me and the council on the straight and narrow legally and to the Reverend Rob Cotton (my chaplain) for doing similarly spiritually. That plus his pastoral care and quiet concern, making sure I wasn’t taking on too much.
At this point a thank-you on behalf of Jacquelyn to a past Mayoress Joan Fairhurst for her wise words and millinery support.
I must also thank all Knutsfordians and businesses large and small who joined in helping raise money for this year’s fund to support Knutsford GROW and St John’s Wood Lunch Club. Whether you baked or bought cakes at the ‘Cake Off’, competed or were in the audience of the ‘Talent Factor’, tried to ‘Win the Market’ at Christmas, simply gave a donation, ate for charity at Loch Fyne or The Old Sessions House or Gusto’s (and in some cases all three), bought raffle tickets, contributed to a street collection, took part in the pub quiz (we couldn’t have squeezed any more teams in) or ‘Rocked with the Mayor’ at the Ball, thank-you each and every one of you from me and on behalf of the two organisations concerned.
Which brings me to how much we’ve raised.
The fund to be split between the two organisations amounts to £9,067.62.
Additionally for Knutsford GROW (it being a charity whilst St John’s Wood Lunch Club is a good cause albeit an excellent one) I secured match funding for a couple of the things we did. This from a surprisingly shy organisation. A further £1,437.22 has been paid to Knutsford GROW directly making the total amount raised by Knutsford (not me) for the year £10,504.84.
Mr Mayor, in closing I wish you well. My Mayoress kept a memories’ box of things for me, your year will flash by, I recommend you do the same. In the year ahead, I am determined not to be an ‘Edward Heath’ figure. If anyone catches me doing so please do let me know.