Having the good fortune to be the Mayor of Knutsford for a year is a real life-enhancing experience. As many have mentioned before, the real effects of attending events to which you are invited as Mayor over the year are education about the town in which you live, allied to a humbling realisation of just how much work is done in Knutsford for the benefit of the community, mostly by volunteers who are always unpaid and often unsung.
This town has more than its fair share of volunteers, and they make their presence known every single day. They run the Knutsford First Responders, the Heritage Centre, the Hampers of Hope organisation, most of the Church’s works, the Hosts, the Lions, Community Spirit and many, many more charitable and community organisations around the town. If you cold capture all the work, the good spirit, all the imagination and innovation produced by these groups in just one year you’d have the basis of an answer to most of the world’s problems, right there! Seeing all this in action was the humbling bit.
It’s also worth noting just how much of this work is invisible to many residents. I have lived here for nearly 21 years now, and thought I had a good handle on what went on in the town, but actually I knew about 10% – the often referred to ‘tip of the iceberg’. How many people in this town are aware of the work done by the Gymfinity organisation in training chidden in gymnastics three times a week at Egerton Youth Club, for example, or the Knutsford Fire Brigade’s work with difficult teenagers from St. John’s School every year? Coming across previously unseen community works for the first time this year was the educational bit for me.
Of course, it’s not only volunteers who apply themselves to doing good works for our community, there is also the semi-hidden work done by business people in the town to help make a success of events like the Pumpkin Path at Halloween, the Bunny Hop at Easter and the lights switch-on at Christmas time. The local private businesses also put their heart and hours of work into making this town an even more special place at Royal Horticultural Show time and again at Christmas, when they glam up their shop windows and shop fronts to match those seasonal themes. The Town council also plays its part here, by awarding prizes to those businesses which the Mayor and Deputy Mayor think have produced the most attractive and imaginative results at these times.
A special mention here just has to go to Peter Murray of Pulse of Perfumery, he seems to have taken our community to heart and puts a great deal of time and effort into the year’s events in the town. I’m not sure I’ll forgive him, though, for disappointing every child in the town by encouraging a rumour that Harry Stiles was making a surprise appearance at the closing ceremony of the Pumpkin Path at Halloween, so they all turned out to see the black cloak whipped off the mystery guest – ME! I can still hear the sighs of disappointment today.
One of the difficult things to do before you start your year is to choose your Mayoral charity, or charities, for whom you are going to raise money by organising events throughout the year. I chose the Knutsford District Scouts and the local Salvation Army group. I used to be a Scout, and have always admired the way they have continued to stay relevant to young people from the days of Baden-Powell through to today. They do a lot for their members in raising life-skill levels and confidence, and their benefit to society as a whole is immeasurable.
Throughout my life I’ve always admired the Salvation Army for opting to help the people who have fallen the furthest, into addictions, homelessness and hopelessness. They also tend to deal with people at the other end of the age scale to the Scouts, so I thought the two charities were a well balanced and deserving choice. By organising a party, a golf day, a concert, a quiz night and a Ball at different times of the year, I’m pleased to say we raised £11,155.28, and along with £1000 in match funding from Barclays we were able to present The Scouts and The Salvation Army cheques for £6077.64 each.
Many people have contributed to the fundraising over the year, but I would like to recognise here the extra special efforts of Steve and Alison Moss who held the first charity event, a garden party, at their house, Heyrose Golf Club for giving us a good deal for the Golf Day, Gordon Roberts and the Mancunian Singers for the wonderful concert, and the Mere Golf Resort for giving us a deal on the Charity Ball. All of these were enjoyable and successful events.
The year was not all about the money we raised, however, it was also about representing Knutsford in a good light both within the town and outside. I would therefore like to draw towards a conclusion by thanking the four people who worked alongside me all year, for all types of event. Firstly, I’d like to thank Revd. Rob Cotton for being a sound, dependable and always cheerful Mayoral chaplain this year. Secondly, I must thank my three musketeers, Clare Stuart-West, my PA who organised everything so well for me, my wife Gill, the Mayoress, for being so good at the role, and Sgt. Nancy Nuttall from Knutsford’s ATC, my Mayoral Cadet, who accompanied us on many occasions and was a massive credit to her unit, her school and her family all year.
Thanks to all of you, and I wish Jan Nicholson, the new Mayor, and her team an enjoyable and successful year ahead.