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Mayors News

Mayor’s June Crier Article

From Your New Mayor…..

How the time has flown and Summer is almost upon us.  There have been many changes including my recent appointment as Mayor of Great Torrington.  It is often said that all good things come to an end…  well, I hope that some things will continue to be good as I take over the reins from my predecessor, Cllr Keeley Allin, who has done a fabulous job of representing the town for the past two years.

The first part of the year hasn’t been normal at all, starting with the awful news that we had to cancel Mayfair for a second time. This was absolutely the hardest decision we as a committee could have been called on to make, knowing the heartache it would bring to those youngsters who were so looking forward to this once-in-a-lifetime event.  A lot of sleep was lost prior to making the call, but in the end we had absolutely no option bearing in mind the overarching responsibility we all have to each other and our children. 

As we all know, Great Torrington has been voted the “Healthiest place to live”.  During the pandemic, we did not consistently provide the country’s lowest infection statistics without effort and sacrifice.  Torridge as a District had consistently lowest infection figures nationally, and within Torridge we as a Town shone out, but we must carry on our Covid awareness and not relax our guard too quickly. This is not to say we mustn’t get back to ‘normality’ as soon as we can, but emerging from lockdown needs to be accomplished with some caution and common sense so as not to undo all the gains for which we have all paid such a high price. Our ongoing thanks to our local and regional NHS staff, and to our extraordinary volunteers who have been instrumental in making all this achievable by their tireless work.

One of my passions is raising awareness of our fragile environment. As someone with a love of scuba diving I have seen to my sadness coral bleaching and plastic rubbish in the worlds’ oceans where you’d least expect it.

Closer to home, I have been collaborating with SAS (Surfers Against Sewage) and Plastic Free North Devon both of whom have been extremely active locally with beach cleans and other similar events.  For some time now Great Torrington has been chasing Plastic Free Status. The newly opened Torrington Refill Store will go a long way to support this by raising awareness and opportunity in the town, so please support Bruce and Mike in their endeavours. The town’s Transport and Environment Working Group hasn’t been meeting through the lockdown, but watch this space as we will be looking for people interested in our planet to get more involved.

Many of you will be aware that we have changed our grass cutting policy.  This is designed to support and encourage our ever-diminishing army of pollinators, on whom we rely so heavily.

I am excited to have been involved with the Fiware4Water initiative from its inception (there are more details in this edition of the Crier, so I’ll not repeat).  Because of our unique geography amongst other things, Great Torrington was selected by Exeter University to represent the UK in an EU and UN Water awareness initiative so please do grasp this chance to participate.  

If you have concerns or ideas, please feed back to me or any of your councillors.  We’d be glad to hear your ideas. We are here FOR YOU.

Finally, I would like to confirm that my two Charities this year will be the North Devon Hospice and the Tarka Valley Railway.  I am also very pleased to invite Reverend Robert Blackhall as the Town Council’s Chaplain.

Cllr Doug Smith – Mayor of Great Torrington

cllr.smith@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk

07970 636199

Mayor’s May Crier Article

It is hoped that by the time you read this, the restrictions in place will be eased even more. I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say we are all looking forward to seeing family an friends and taking a much-deserved visit to our fabulous, local independent shops. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for keeping our town safe during these difficult times. We’ve still got hurdles ahead of us, but without everyone doing their part, we wouldn’t be in the position we are. We truly are Great Torrington!

Work carries on in the Town Council and we have been busy preparing for better times. As you will have seen in last month’s Crier, the town now has three maps. A revised Town Centre map and Civil War Trail and a new Heritage Trail map. These are the result of lots of hard work by many different people and it is exciting to think we are really beginning to shout about what we have to offer in our lovely town! A huge thank you to everyone involved in the ongoing Marketing Working group; it’s also great to hear lots of projects in the pipeline.

On 24th March I attended, along with the Mayors of Bideford, Holsworthy and Northam, our regular Mayors and Clerks meeting. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we haven’t all been able to meet up in person for a while now but it was good to be able to see them on screen and learn how their individual towns have been coping. These meetings are also helpful as we have updates from Torridge District Council and an opportunity to raise any issues we may have. It is a good way to learn from each other.

As I write this, I am looking forward to presenting my report at our Annual Parish meeting on the 15th April. It will be via Zoom this year and we are pleased that it already looks like we will have a good number of members of the community attending. Despite the strangeness of this past year, I am looking forward to reporting on Council activity. I am extremely proud to say that we all work together; we are one team.

As you may already be aware, our Annual Business meeting will take place on the 6th of May, where a new Mayor/Chair of the council will be confirmed and will officially take over. Again, this meeting will be via Zoom so will almost certainly feel very different, but I look forward to welcoming the new Mayor into the role.

As always, please do not hesitate to get in contact if you need anything at all; I’m always happy to help.

Keeley Allin – Mayor of Great Torrington (cllr.allin@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk)

Mayor’s April Crier Article

Where is this year going? I hope you are all keeping well and continuing to stay safe during these difficult times, and that you are remaining hopeful about the way forward. It is important to keep reminding ourselves of how far we have come and that we will come through this time and be all the stronger when we do.

Beginning to think ahead, I am especially looking forward to our independent shops re-opening. Our town centre is full of many unique shopping opportunities and to be able to come into town to buy a gift or a treat for yourself will be very special. I would like to re-enforce my Mayor’s challenge to “Shop Local” as much as you can. Our traders have all been incredible during the pandemic; either adjusting work patterns, or closing altogether for our safety; all so that we have been able to shop for essentials and  keep safe! Please support them back as we transition into restrictions being lifted.

Whilst my calendar remains quite empty in terms of events, the Town Council has continued to be busy and we have used this to work on some marketing initiatives. The new Marketing Working Group have been very proactive recently and you will note from other articles and the CRIER’s front cover that we will soon have two map trails available for the town. This is an exciting initiative and we hope that locals and visitors will learn more about the town’s rich heritage.

I know we are all anxious to get back to some kind of normality, but we must remain vigilant and remember the three disciplines… hands, face and space. We are incredibly fortunate that rates have been so low in Great Torrington and Torridge so let’s keep it that way.

As always, please do not hesitate to get in contact if you need anything; I’m very happy to help in any way I can!

Keeley Allin – Mayor of Great Torrington

cllr.allin@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk

07783711500

Mayor’s March Crier Article

As I write this, we are still in a national lockdown and I hope you are all keeping well.  I am aware that times have continued to be difficult, but know that people are helping each other across the community. Please don’t forget to reach out for help if you need it.

January seemed to last a long time but we are hopeful that once we get to March, we will see the coming of Spring. Let’s hope that brings us all a little bit of joy and sunshine

I have not been as busy as I would like recently as all events I would be usually attending are cancelled however, I have enjoyed doing various interviews over the last few weeks. I was pleased to be able to talk to Devon Live about my time as Mayor and about being a young mayor and Town Councillor. As much as I enjoy talking about my role, I always take these chances to talk about how Great, Great Torrington is! I can’t wait until a time when we can safely invite visitors so that they can see for themselves all the lovely things we have to offer!

As an off shoot of this interview, I was contacted by Kevin Wadland from Plymouth Hospital Radio to record something for the hospital radio station. This was something very different for me but very exciting and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The interview will be put out on a Saturday morning at Derriford Hospital and will also be available to listen to on SoundCloud.

Whilst we are not organising our usual annual events at the Town Council over the next few months, we are still very much, “business as normal” and are working on some exciting projects, one being our new Marketing Working group. Great Torrington has so much to offer and we are looking to ensure we celebrate it and publicise for locals and visitors. We are focussing on the heritage, environmental, cultural aspects alongside the independent small shopping experience.  We are actively working on various maps, which include a History Trail, organised by the Futures Group, Civil War Trail and a map of the town centre of Great Torrington setting out the various shops and businesses.

I want to thank everyone who has joined this group. These relatively quieter times have given us a chance to prepare for the future of the town.

Another longer-term project is a History Alive Weekend, being headed up by John Wardman, Dave Gibbons, Peter Hood in conjunction with the Marketing Group. The sub-group have been working extremely hard on this idea and the committee were delighted to hear an update last month; more information is included in a separate article this month.

I hope, by the time this article reaches you all, that we will see ourselves in a different position. The vaccines are being rolled out and I want to thank everyone in our community who has played their part.

As always, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me if you need anything.

Cllr Keeley Allin – Mayor of Great Torrington

07783711500 – cllr.allin@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk

Mayor’s February Crier Article

I hope you all had a happy and healthy New Year and an enjoyable Christmas, despite the restrictions. I would like to thank all key workers who worked during the Christmas period in our hospitals, nursing homes and other sectors. You have all been there for people who may not have been able to see their family and I am sure they are all very grateful.

We now find ourselves in another lockdown due to Covid-19. At the time of writing this, we have been fortunate to have relatively low numbers of cases in Great Torrington. I am sure that it is thanks to everyone playing their part to keep our community safe. I would therefore like to thank all our essential shops for continuing to step up to serve our community and to ensure that everyone has exactly what they need, as well as our ‘non-essential’ shops who have had to close once again to help towards keeping our town safe.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas I was delighted to hear that may local traders were busy and felt very well supported by the community. It seems that people really embraced the ‘shop local’ message! I would urge you all to continue this during these next few weeks and, once we can shop a little more normally again, to continue to support all of our local traders. We have so much to offer in Great Torrington and I for one cannot wait until more of our shops are open again.

With various vaccines now approved, there is the beginning of a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. I have heard of a number of people in our town being called up for their vaccines, along with many of our nursing home staff and residents. This is a great step for everyone in our town and I look forward to a time when more of us can be vaccinated. However, for now, we must remain vigilant as there is still a long way to go.

Business at the Town Council remains open! However, the office remains closed for face-to-face interaction, but we can still be contacted either by phone, email or via our website/Facebook pages. We are currently working with TTVS who have various services available for anyone needing help in these uncertain times.

Please do not hesitate to get in contact if you need anything.

Cllr Keeley Allin – Mayor of Great Torrington

07783711500 – cllr.allin@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk

Mayor’s December/January Crier Article

At the time of writing this article we are back into tighter restrictions following the Government’s decision last week, effective from the 5th November. We will have to wait to see what happens on December the 3rd and my hope is that the number of people affected by Covid19 will have reduced and if appropriate restrictions will be relaxed as we move towards Christmas.

I have been impressed again by the town traders who have risen to the challenge a second time as “essential” providers, as well as those traders and businesses who have had to close again; but despite this have remained up-beat and been incredibly innovative.

In October I was delighted to be asked to “Switch on” the new floodlights at Donnacroft Playing Fields for Torridgeside Football Club. It was a fabulous evening and one which was an example of Torridge side and the Town Council working well together. We wish them good luck in the future!

You will note from an article in this CRIER about Remembrance that we filmed two separate ceremonies prior to the 5th November and aired one on Remembrance Sunday and the other on Armistice Day. Both occasions were incredibly poignant and gave a window for everything to stop and “remember” what so many gave for the lives of others. I would like to give a special thank you to Torrington Silver Band’s Nick Megson, for playing the Last Post, the Chairman of the Great Torrington Branch of the Royal British Legion, Sid Adams, and The Royal British Legion Chaplain, Reverend Peter Bevan for joining my beadle and me on these very special occasions.

As we head towards Christmas, I would urge everyone to consider “buying local”, if at all possible. We have so many lovely independent shops and a unique pannier market where you really can buy lovely original gifts and support the “local small shops” as you do. As well as this, we all play a part in keeping our local economy strong!

I would like to mention the Mayor’s Raffle which is taking place throughout December up to the 18th. I would thank everyone who has donated a prize and would encourage as many people as possible to buy a ticket or 2 in support of my two charities this year, “Friends of the Library” and Torrington Silver Band.

Now I’d like to wish you all a very peaceful and healthy Christmas time on behalf of myself and all at the Town Council. We look forward to a calmer 2021!

Please do not hesitate to contact me if there is anything, I can help you with.
Cllr Keeley Allin – Mayor of Great Torrington
cllr.allin@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk

Mayor’s November Crier Article

This year is certainly running away with us! I do hope you are continuing to keep well and are adjusting to the changing rules and the situation we find ourselves in. So far, we have been extremely lucky in Great Torrington, but we must continue to be vigilant; I want to thank everyone who is keeping us safe and to our local traders who are doing all they can to ensure we can continue to shop in safety.

On the 16th of September, I was thrilled to finally be able to hand over my Mayor’s Good Citizen Award to the “Knit and Natter” Group. I met with Rose and Marg, who received the award on behalf of the group. I thanked them both for setting up and being a part of such a fantastic group. We all remember the brilliant display of Poppies that donned the Town Hall last November for Remembrance, of which I was very humbled to unveil. The group has brought lots of people from both the town and the outskirts together and has created strong friendships; something I think everyone values, even more so in these strange times.

Whilst times are uncertain, I have been very pleased to see two new shops open in our lovely town. Firstly, I visited Deborah at Lilian Rose Interiors on the 24th September and took a look around her beautiful shop. Definitely worth a visit, especially if you enjoy lovely interior design.

In early October a new business “Polish me Pretty” opened in the Pannier Market. Sarah and Anna are offering something very different which adds to the great variety of choice available. I wish them both all the very best for their new venture!

It is just over a year now since I launched my Mayor’s Challenge to, “love your town and shop local”. I have been excited to see people taking part and realising how much we really do have to offer here in Great Torrington. I am continuing with this challenge and I recommend that everyone visits our town centre at least once a week and visit our shops, businesses, cafes and Pannier Market. We can play a part in keeping our local economy strong by supporting “local” as much as we can. I always love the saying “when you buy from a small business, the owner does a little happy dance” – lets create more happy dances!

Finally, I want to thank everyone who joined our Torrington Town Tidy over the weekend of 26th and 27th September. It was slightly different to our usual event but I felt sure that you would all do your bit and help to keep our town beautiful! I was especially delighted to see some young people joining in; they are our future and it’s amazing to see how much they care about their community at such a young age. My thanks also to Cllr Clayton who helped me organise the event and started a week early by cleaning the outside of the Great Torrington Heritage Museum – we are one team at the Town Council and I am very proud of how well we all work together.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you need anything.
Cllr Keeley Allin – Mayor of Great Torrington
cllr.allin@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk

Mayor’s October Crier Article

I hope you have all had an enjoyable Summer, although times may be different at present, it has been lovely to be able to see more of you out and about and also to see visitors enjoying our lovely town.

I am thankful to have finally been able to do some official duties. On Saturday 15th August, I was proud to lead a small group in commemorating the 75th anniversary of VJ Day. It is extremely important that we continue to remember these important dates and ensure we always pay thanks to those who gave so much for us. My thanks go to Nick Megson from Torrington Silver Band and everyone else who was able to join us, albeit we were restricted to how many could be there due to Covid19 restrictions.

I was finally able to hand over the Town Council’s Howe Plate award for Community Service to Pauline Baker for all she has done for the Great Torrington Mayfair and Carnival Committee. Pauline humbly reinforced that she was accepting the award on behalf of the whole committee and for the joint effort in all of the hard work that goes into organising our special day – it really is a team effort but I know all members will agree that we would be lost without Pauline and all she does.

On the 19th of August I was delighted to unveil the new gate at Jubilee Wood and the new Bridge just below. Cutting the ribbon with a pair of shears was a first for me! These have been two projects that have been progressing for quite a while and it was lovely to see them come to fruition and a big “thankyou” to all those who have worked so hard. Special thanks to Alan Williams and volunteers working on Jubilee Wood and to Al Mitchel and the Commons Conservators for the fantastic new bridge. We are very lucky to live in such a beautiful area and be surrounded by people who care so much about keeping it safe, protected and looking its best.

It feels like so long ago now, but I am pleased to report that I completed my charity tandem skydive at Skydive Buzz Dunkeswell on Sunday the 19th of July. The event was made even more special as it coincided with my lovely Nan’s birthday! It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I want to thank everyone who sponsored me. Since the event took place, I have received an additional £700 which will be divided between both of my charities from last year.  This now takes the total funds raised for 19/20 to £5,200. I cannot thank you all enough for your support.

Whilst we continue to adjust to the “new normal”, I have been really pleased to see so many people shopping local and supporting our independent traders; including shops  in our Pannier Market on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. We have so much to offer and I am excited about progressing with our new Marketing Working Group so that we can begin to really shout about what we have here in Great Torrington!

Please do not hesitate to get in contact with me if you need anything or would like my support.

Keeley Allin – Mayor of Great Torrington

VJ Day Commemorations

On Saturday 15th August the Mayor of Great Torrington was honoured to join a small group at the War Memorial to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VJ Day. The Mayor and her Deputy Cllr Doug Smith, joined Nick Megson from Torrington Silver Band and the Town Council Beadle, Andy.  The last post was played followed by a two minutes silence.  After the silence was broken the Mayor laid a wreath on behalf of the Town Council and read a “Tribute to the Millions”.  The Beadle finished by saying the Kohima Epitaph and everyone present joined with “We will remember them”.  The Mayor thanks the small group who joined them at the War Memorial to ensure we remember those who selflessly gave their lives for us.

Mayor’s Charity Sky Dive

I am actually completely speechless and cannot describe how incredible it felt jumping out of a plane at 15000ft! The free-fall was probably the most intense thing I have ever experienced, traveling at up to 120mph, but one of the best feelings ever.I then had around 5 minutes of floating back to to earth taking in all the views – I can’t thank my instructor enough for making that experience so amazing, doing spins and generally keeping me calm and making the whole experience less nerve wracking (If anyone is ever thinking of doing a skydive, I cannot recommend the team enough, put at ease straight from the start!) I’m genuinely sad that it is now over but can’t thank everyone enough for supporting me and sponsoring me – I will update a final total soon.Lastly, thank you to my family and friends that came along with me today, for waiting all morning for the cloud to clear and then being there to see me safely to the ground – especially little Reggie, who was just great all day!All monies raised for my skydive will be going to my 2019/2020 charities, The Torrington Police Amateur Boxing Club and The First Torrington Scouts 🙂