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Mayors News – Cllr Doug Smith (May 2024)

Representing Great Torrington as Deputy Mayor and Mayor over the past few years has been a most memorable time for me.  

During my time as Deputy Mayor, we experienced the devastating worldwide pandemic – Covid 19. A time that is etched in all our memories. I was proud to be a part of Great Torrington Town Council who even ahead of the Government’s announcement that the country would enter lockdown, had initiated a community support scheme to help vulnerable members of the community. This service was a lifeline to many in our town, at a time of great anxiety and uncertainty.   

During my first year as Mayor, it was a huge relief to everyone – especially the Cavaliers – that the burning of the Mayflower replica was able to take place during the August Bank Holiday weekend of 2021. After the period of lockdown and isolation the event was an opportunity for the community to come together, and the Cavaliers excelled themselves once again in providing an outstanding evening of entertainment.  

It was an honour to be Mayor for the return of the annual Mayfair celebrations in May 2022. The town had missed this event for two years and the community welcomed it back with great excitement and the sun shone on the day, which is always helpful.  

In contrast, later that year in September 2022, it was with immense sadness that we learnt of the passing of our Sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Coupled with the passing of His late Royal Highness Prince Phillip the previous year, this represented the end of an era, and the town joined the rest of the country and the world in mourning the loss of our longest reigning monarch. It was an honour as Mayor to lead the moment of reflection and the Proclamation of King Charles III in the Town Square. 

The Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III was cause for much celebration. The Town Council held a cream tea at the Town & Community Hall for around 100 members of the community, and Torrington Silver Band provided entertainment in the sunshine for members of the public. The May Queen attended the cream tea with her entourage and delivered cream teas to some people who were unable to leave their houses to attend. It was a privilege to attend Great Torrington Bluecoat School to distribute Coronation Badges from Great Torrington Town Council to the children, and also to attend Bluecoat Nursery and Little Frogs Pre-School to donate commemorative books for everyone to enjoy. 

Margaret Noble has in recent years been brought to our attention as a significant local historic figure. Born in Ireland she lived in Great Torrington for several years before she moved first to London, then Calcutta, where she established a school for girls in 1898, a thing unheard of in India at the time. She was given the name Sister Nivedita, and I was honoured to take part in the unveiling of a statue in our cemetery to celebrate the 150th anniversary of her birth on October 22nd, 2022, and last year I was invited as a guest to the unveiling of another statue in her memory in Wimbledon. 

I must thank my Mayors Chaplains Reverend Robert Blackhall and Father Steve Turner for their support over the past few years, it has been a pleasure to work with you both. 

I would encourage everyone eligible to explore the possibility of volunteering as a town councillor. It’s a wonderful opportunity to put something back into the community; if you have ideas and think you could make a difference, please do take that positive step and volunteer. In this my final Crier piece, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those Councillors, officers, and residents who have supported me at every turn. My life is richer thanks to my experience on Great Torrington Town Council.