Archive for Mayor’s Parlour

Call for Talent

Know someone getting a little bored with the poor weather in the summer holidays? Perhaps there’s time to practice their act and get ready for Knutsford’s biggest and best talent competition. Entries for Knutsford’s got the Talent Factor on Saturday 14th October are open now or from the Town Council offices. Don’t leave it too late to enter this fantastic charity event.

It’s nearly too late to get a tickets for Tue 22nd August’s ‘Culture and Cake’ Afternoon Tea and private guided tour of Tabley House and exclusive use of their Tea Rooms. £22.50 for this whole afternoon event bookable via alternatively contact Clare at Knutsford Town Council on 01565-653929 and leave her a message to buy tickets. I hope to see you there.

On a completely different tack I’d encourage all readers to spend half an hour to get to grips with and understand what the Knutsford Neighbourhood Plan is all about In a ‘nutshell’ whilst Knutsford must have about 1,000 new homes, the resident driven Neighbourhood Plan will seek to put ‘planning rules’ along with a Design Guide in place to ensure Knutsford retains its identity and has the right infrastructure to support a 25% increase in our population. Expect to hear more about this after the summer and be prepared to have your say.

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Neil’s first weeks

I thought I’d start by letting you know which local good causes and charity I will be supporting (with your help) in the civic year ahead (up to May 2018).They are the Knutsford Youth Orchestra, the Knutsford Friendship Club (this recently opened club is for those with Alzheimer’s and their carers) and Mid-Cheshire Riding for the Disabled.

Previous Knutsford Mayors have played golf for charity, undertaken swimathons, walked across hot coals and even bungie jumped to raise funds.  Sadly my cycling and competitive field archery days are behind me and I find myself much more of an eat, drink and make merry sort of fellow these days. So you should expect a list of events in that vein published within the next week or so which you may wish to join in some or all of.  I do hope so.

Expect the return of ‘Knutsford’s Got the Talent Factor’, a big band swing & jazz event and much more besides.  Watch this space and follow me on Twitter @KnutsfordMayor for more information.  Click on to join the Mayor’s events’ e-mailing list to gain advanced information.

Buying one of our market hall’s brand new stylish reusable bags will also add some pennies to the pot.  Enough of the ‘hard sell’ – for now.

I represented Knutsford at Cheshire East ‘Mayor Making’ of Cllr Arthur Moran and look forward to welcoming him here in the months ahead.  At Knutsford District Scouts’ AGM I learned about the exciting opportunities and challenges scouts have these days compared to my time as a scout in the 1970s.

Did you know there is a national shortage of scout leaders.  Maybe you or someone you know might fancy putting a ‘toe in the water’?

The Mayor’s Parlour is a bi-weekly column appearing in the Knutsford Guardian.

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Mayor’s Christmas Message

It’s been a busy time with the Christmas Market, Lights Switch On, Lantern Parade and Crib Service.  There were some amazing lanterns taking part this year!  Thank you to Manor Park Primary School Choir for singing at the Crib Service.

As we draw near to the end of a turbulent year of global uncertainty, the eternal message of peace and goodwill to all has never been so relevant. Although we are very lucky in Knutsford to have a great community who give so much to the many charities and good causes of the town, we have to ask ourselves … could we do more?

Giving the gift of time to help others is one of the best ways to truly express the spirit of the season; whether that is making the time to have a cup of tea with an elderly neighbour, putting the Christmas tree up for someone who is unwell or giving a lift to the shops for someone who doesn’t drive. Life is so busy these days and everyone from children, partners, parents and even our pets, demands a claim on our time.

But will an hour out of our week really prevent putting the dinner on the table or getting the school uniforms ironed? Let us do some small service for our fellow beings.  Let us look to 2017 for being the year we make time for others.

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

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75th Anniversary of Parachute Training School

The holiday period of August has now passed, and it was a quiet time for Mayoral duties, with schools on holiday and many organisations in tick-over mode. I did, however, have the honour of attending the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the No.1 Parachute Training School at Ringway Aerodrome (the site of today’s Manchester Airport), in 1940.

The ceremony was in two parts, firstly at the Memorial Stone next to the training ‘drop zone’ in Tatton Park, and secondly in the Memorial Gardens at Manchester Airport. The Mayoral Cadet, Nancy Nuttall, in her full ATC Sergeant’s uniform and I arrived in Tatton Park to find approximately 200 current and former members of the Parachute Regiment and RAF and their families formed up around the Tatton’s Memorial Stone for those connected with the Training School who died during the Second World War.

There followed a short service of remembrance before we all jumped back in cars and coaches and moved on to Manchester Airport where the service was repeated. At the get-together afterwards Nancy and I had chance to meet the No. 1 Parachute Training School’s modern equivalents – the RAF’s Parachute Jump Instructors and the Parachute Regiment’s physical training staff and their officers, who carry on this work today (parachute training is now based at RAF Brize Norton).

They are an impressive group of professionals, and it was interesting to learn from their commanding officers too that all British parachute training in the Second World War was conducted by No.1 Parachute Training School, with the trainees consisting of over 60,000 paras and hundreds of SAS and SOE staff who needed to be dropped behind enemy lines. There were over 429,000 practice jumps into Tatton Park during this time, with sadly 42 fatal accidents during training, mostly caused by malfunctioning parachute opening systems as equipment design was perfected in the early stages of the school.

What a magnificent and very necessary job this Parachute Training School accomplished during the war – we should never forget them or the vital job they so bravely did for us.

The Mayor’s Parlour is a bi-weekly blog appearing in the Knutsford Guardian.

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Longridge and Shaw Heath Fun Day

IT’S good to see new ventures opening up and adding to Knutsford’s economy and jobs market, so I was greatly honoured to be asked to help open the new American Golf Academy at High Legh Country Park on July 21. It’s a wonderful modern design with indoor teaching facilities and a driving range attached, run by the Country Park but attached to a wellstocked American Golf shop.

On Saturday, July 25, the Mayoress and I were delighted to be invited to the Longridge and Shaw Heath fun day on the meadow next to Longridge. I had the privilege of officially opening the day and then we stayed for over two hours, visiting every stall and chatting to the organisers and the people manning the activities. The three main organisations which work together and with others to make the fun day work every year are Community Spirit, the Welcome Café and Great Places Housing Trust. They do a great job and the event is getting better every year, thanks to people like Pat McAndrew who was this year’s main driving force.

The Mayoress and I had a couple of hours to visit the RHS show on July 26 before dashing off to Sandbach for their civic service in the afternoon. Knutsford looked fabulous that week, with the independent shopkeepers making innovative and colourful displays. It made me very proud to be mayor of a town where people pull together so well to make a spectacular show for visitors.

The Mayor’s Parlour is a bi-weekly blog appearing in the Knutsford Guardian.

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Treasure Hunt Success

I attended many functions centred on children in the last fortnight. On July 9, I was privileged to hand out the graduation certificates to seven children from St John’s Wood School, who had successfully completed their Respect course with Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service. This involved spending one day a week with a team of volunteer firefighters, taking part in various activities and exercises connected with the everyday duties of the service. The children treated me to a display of running out hoses and pumping water on to an imaginary fire. They worked well as a team and were very fast.

The following day I attended the My World graduation of Year 6 pupils from Manor Park School, held at Tatton Park. My World is a scheme to introduce children in their last year in junior school to the world of work. The children had attended workplaces at Manchester Airport, Bruntwood, Tatton Park and elsewhere, and each group gave a presentation on what they had learned. Both of these schemes show how much is available to young people today to help them understand the adult world and get a good start in life. It is heartening to see them working so well.

I was an official witness at Knutsford’s contribution to a world-record attempt for the Guinness Book of Records — the number of reading pledges signed in two hours on July 11 at libraries in the UK. We took 77 pledges in Knutsford, mostly from children, and I am waiting to hear the national result.

My treasure hunt on July 12 was great fun, with 18 teams taking part and prizes for many. Congratulations to the Lionhearts, the winners. I opened the Friends of the Heath summer event on Sunday and it was attended by, among other groups, the Knutsford First Responder team who are looking for new volunteers.

The Mayor’s Parlour is a bi-weekly blog appearing in the Knutsford Guardian.

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Mayoral Engagements and Civic Sunday thanks

The sun shone on Knutsford Promenades last Saturday when the crowds were treated to music and dramatic performances around the town all on the theme of Texts from the Front. The Universal Soldier was a great hit, especially with the children, as he paraded around Knutsford. I met Colonel Joe Halisky, the Military Attache at the US Embassy in London, and Andy Reed, British former soldier injured in Afghanistan and now an ambassador for ABF Soldier’s Charity.

I attended three youth events in the last fortnight. The Mayoress and I attended the Guides’ Fabfest at the Cheshire Showground on the sunny afternoon of Saturday, June 27. I was impressed to learn there were 2,000 guides camping there that weekend, that there are a total of 11,500 guides in Cheshire and that numbers are growing. On Friday, we were guests at the Knutsford Air Training Corps’ annual dinner at Cottons and met colleagues of my Mayoral cadet, Cdt Sergeant Nancy Nuttall, as they received awards.

Last, but by no means least, I was asked to award the gold medals on Saturday at the annual gymnastics competition at Gymfinity at Egerton Youth Club. I was amazed by the number of participants (around 200) and the high level of skills and energy.

On Sunday, June 28, it was a great turn-out for my Civic Service in the Methodist Church – it didn’t rain on the parade and the service was spectacular with Mereside Brass Band playing some of the hymns. The service was followed by the Knutsford Town Awards, at which some of our most giving citizens were recognised for voluntary and community work. Finally, don’t forget my Charity’ Treasure Hunt round Knutsford town centre on Sunday, July 12, starting at The Angel at 11 am. To enter call my PA on 01565 653929.

The Mayor’s Parlour is a bi-weekly blog appearing in the Knutsford Guardian.

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Society Service and Garden Party

It has been a fairly quiet fortnight as far as mayoral duties go, but a rewarding one.

I was delighted to attend, with the Mayoress, the Society Sunday service at St John’s Knutsford on June 14, an event which takes place on the nearest Sunday to the Queen’s birthday each year. It is designed to celebrate all the community organisations and other groups who work for the benefit of the people of Knutsford. It was a very participatory service with the Welcome Cafe, myself and several youth and adult services groups having the chance to get on the dais and explain what we do. Children played a significant role in the discussions, with one of their questions to me – you know who you are Jonah! – showing the true insight of the very young: “Are you a mayor at night or a nightmare?” The answer came partly from me and partly from the Mayoress.

On June 20, Steve and Alison Moss kindly hosted a garden party at their lovely house on the Tabley estate, which raised over £2,000 from ticket sales – all going to Knutsford District Scouts. Don’t forget the next mayoral event – it’s the Walking Treasure Hunt around Knutsford Town Centre, setting off from the Angel Hotel at 11am on Sunday, July 11. Prizes will be awarded to the winning teams, and children are especially welcome.

The Mayor’s Parlour is a bi-weekly blog appearing in the Knutsford Guardian.

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First week as Mayor

I’ve had a pleasingly busy first three weeks as mayor of Knutsford, attending four functions in the first week alone. It was a pleasure to attend both the Mayor Making ceremony in Congleton (just two days after my own), and also their Civic Service on June 7 – both occasions allowing me to enjoy their magnificent old town hall.

On the Friday before the Bank Holiday the Mayoress and I attended the re-opening ceremony of an old established Knutsford restaurant – Piccolino, on King Street – after its tasteful refurbishment. It was a very enjoyable early evening function in the sunshine and a chance to reacquaint with old friends as well as meeting new.

Another highlight was a visit to Middlewich, as a guest of their mayor, for the Skirmish, an annual re-enactment of the second battle of Middlewich, which took place during the English Civil War. The members of the opposing militias, in their respective uniforms and armed with 12 foot pikes, swords and the occasional musket, were a magnificent sight, as was the tented encampment recreated in the church grounds – all great fun but it also reminds us of the depth of the historical tradition of this part of the world.

And so to the Knutsford Lions Street Fair on Bank Holiday Monday. I helped ‘King John’ (of the Lions) and ‘Queen Sofia’ (our May Queen) judge the winning stalls at the event, which this year was built around a Magna Carta theme. It was great to see the fair so well-attended again. Looking forward, I have a busy diary for June/July, representing the civic identity of Knutsford in other towns, and with Knutsford-based organisations.

I’m particularly looking forward to my Walking Treasure Hunt on Sunday, July 12, with quality prizes for the winning teams. The treasure hunt involves a tour of Knutsford town centre on foot, answering questions about what you pass on the way round, and is organised in aid of my charities: Knutsford & District Scouts and the Salvation Army. It’s going to be great fun for families or groups of friends – if you’d like to enter a team for this competition, please contact my PA on 01565 653929.

The Mayor’s Parlour is a bi-weekly blog appearing in the Knutsford Guardian.


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VE Celebrations

Last weekend’s Victory in Europe 70th Commemoration was something to behold not only on TV but also here in Knutsford.  On Friday it was the Royal British Legion VE70 Commemoration Dinner with a guest speaker Squadron Leader recently returned from Afghanistan.

And on Sunday I had the honour of joining over 100 Knutsfordians who had personal memories of the first Victory in Europe Day for afternoon tea in St John’s Church. Supported by 30+ fantastic volunteeers we partied like it was 1945.

On display was the interactive VE70 project by St John’s Community School which captured news stories of the day mixed with personal anacdotes from those who lived here at the time.  You’ll be able to see it in the library soon but after that I do hope our Heritage Centre can have a copy to treasure for future generations.

My mayoral year ends on Monday at the Annual Council Meeting (‘Mayor Making’) so this is my last chance to thank all Knutsfordians and businesses small and large for helping me raise money for charity Knutsford GROW and good cause St John’s Wood Lunch Club. The extent of your generosity will be revealed on Monday.

So I thought I’d end on a song: “Regrets, I’ve had a few ..”.  You know the rest

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