Thursday, 23 June 2011

See you at the festival

WHEN Dave Swabrick came up with the idea of organising a garden festival to raise money for the Flamingo Pool in Axminster he could not possibly have imagined how the event would develop into one of Devon’s premier country attractions.

Dave was one of the most positive men I knew; he always had a bright idea. Not all of them worked but for him the glass was always half full, never half empty. He was a man before his time.

Sadly, Dave did not live long enough to see the garden festival, now the Axe Vale Festival, blossom into the superb event it is today, but his memory lives on through his daughter, Jackie Swarbrick Silver, who organises the trade stands at the show.

The old adage “from small acorns” has never been more appropriate. The festival was first held in 1994 and since then it has raised the unbelievable amount of £265,012, of which £166,053 has gone towards the running costs of the Flamingo Pool with £98,935 being donated to other local worthy causes over the years.

Now when David Cameron struggles to explain his “Big Society” concept he could do no better than look towards a field outside Axminster where volunteers have worked their socks off for the past 16 years to ensure that the quality of community life in Axminster remains a high priority.

The Big Society? It’s been going on for years in towns like Axminster.

This weekend sees the 17th anniversary of the Axe Vale Festival and with fine weather predicted, I am sure it will as popular as ever with thousands making their way to the show ground on the grandly named “Trafalgar Way”.

Chairman Ron Cross and his enthusiastic committee have been working for months on organising what will undoubtedly be another marvellous coming together of town and country.

With a busy programme of attractions in the main arena, including a falconry display and terrier racing, the festival offers entertainment and interest for all ages and tastes.

As well as browsing the many trade stands, the crowds will be making a beeline for the many marquees promoting food, antiques, toys and hobbies, crafts, shopping, horticulture, art and the recently introduced “Spirit of The Community”, an ecletic mix of local services and activities which helps to make Axminster such a diverse community.

The Weekender will also be there. We will be giving away our special Axe Vale Festival edition and I might even offer those of you who have a kind word to say about our newspaper a refreshing glass of Pimm’s. “I might”, I said!

I COULDN’T let this week pass without referring to Tony and Sylvia Hibberd’s departure from Colyton Post Office.

They have served Colyton with great dedication over the past 42 years, not only through their work running the local post office but also the many other community activities they have been involved in over the years. The town owes them a great debt of gratitude.

It is good news indeed that they are staying in Colyton and it is hoped that some form of post office service can be preserved.

Turning back the clock to GI days

I’VE always been a big admirer of the Royal British Legion which this year celebrates its 90th anniversary.

With our Armed Forces still actively engaged in a number of theatres of war around the globe, especially Afgahanistan and Iraq, the work of the Legion is as important today as it was in the aftermath of the two world wars.

I have never served in the Armed Forces but I am an associate member of my home town Legion branch, one way that non-service personnel can support the organisation.

It was a delight, therefore, to attend Saturday evening’s ENSA concert and dance at Axminster Guildhall organised by the Axminster branch.

It was an approproiate venue, as the Guildhall building was where the American GIs stationed in the town in the run-up to D-Day would have let their hair down.

With many in military uniform and others in 1940s style fashions, it was easy to imagine the scene in 1944 as the splendid Three Counties Swing Band went into the Glenn Miller repertoire.

Congratulations to those who worked so hard to organise such a nostalgic event, raising £1,600 for Legion funds in the process.

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