Friday, 6 May 2011

FRIDAY was quite a day. I managed to see most of the Royal Wedding in the morning (what a fantastic occasion, no one does it better than us) but the rest of the day was spent touring around The Weekender and Dorset View From territory capturing the local celebrations for all our papers.

All our reporters were out and about enjoying the special community atmosphere and we make no excuse that our pages this week are dominated by Will and Kate’s big day. Well, it only happens every 30 or so years, doesn’t it?

Congratulations to all those involved in the various street parties and other events in our towns and villages. The day proved to be a real demonstration of the community spirit that we enjoy in East Devon and I understand that plans are already being made in some communities to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June next year.

Late evening on Royal Wedding day was spent at Axminster Guildhall where Jackie and I were invited to present the awards at Axminster Skittles League annual presentation night.

I think this was the fifth or sixth time that we have been invited to the skittlers’ big bash over the last 30 odd years and we always enjoy the occasion, a chance to catch up with the sporting fraternity and meet old friends.

Skittles plays a huge part in the social life of the Axe Valley with the Axminster League having been going since 1967. During the whole of that time Les Ellis has been the league secretary and has seen the league grow into one of the most popular in East Devon. That’s 44 years and Les desrves great credit for his dedication to the skittling fraternity.

When we arrive at the Guildhall Les always invites us up to the Churchill Room for a drink with the committee. He’s always a bit generous (dangerous might be a better word) with his measures and on past occasions I’ve returned downstairs for the presentation ceremony decidedly light headed.

I don’t drink these days and had to be be satisfied with a diet coke, but I saw Jackie wince when she took her first sip of the generous Bacardi and Coke Les had poured for her.

Les has had some great help over the years in the running of the skittles league, not least from Marleen Maer who first joined the committee in 1980 and then spent many years as league secretary until handing over the books this season to Steve Harrison.

A special presentation was made to Marleen to mark her years of service at the presentation night.

There was a presentation also for one of the skittle league’s most colourful characters, Les Summers (pictured below), who has stood down after ten years. He was presented with an appropriate bottle and a bouquet for his wife.

I always have a chat with Les at these functions - always greeted with a firm handshake and a “how are you my son?”

He explained why he decided to call it a day on the committee but I’m not sure I should reveal the reason publicly. Let’s just say, don’t mess with Les when it comes to skittles!

The skittlers get a bit of a break now until the new season starts in September when Les Ellis, chairman Peter Garner and their committee will be making sure that this essential West Country sport continues to live on.

WHILST visiting Colyton on Royal Wedding Day I was given a guided tour on the new Reece Strawbridge youth centre at the Memorial Playing Field by Mark Mann, who has been one of the driving forces behind the project.

Much of the top floor has been devoted to the Catepillars play group, a brilliant facility which has provided with Colyton with one of the best of its kind in East Devon.

There is also an activities room upstairs which is already in use and provision for Colyton Scouts.

Downstairs, which will accommodate the main youth club facility, will soon be open.

Whilst I appreciate there have been some difficulties along the way, Colyton has a youth centre of which it can be proud and which I am sure will be greatly used in the future.


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