Friday, 8 July 2011

Devon’s most friendly show

THIS year’s Axe Vale Festival - another resounding success - did much to cement its reputation as being one of the most friendly and popular events of its kind in the county.

With an estimated 15,000 people pouring through the gates, it is certainly one of the most financially succesful one-day shows in Devon and another healthy profit is expected to support the Flamingo Pool and other worthy local causes.

The Weekender had a stand at the show and I promised a glass of Pimms for all those who came up with a kind word about our paper. We ended up getting through 29 bottles! Only kidding.

But we were delighted that so many readers took the opportunity of paying us a visit and telling us how much they enjoy their free weekend paper. Several came up with ideas for improving the paper which we listened to and will be acting upon in the coming weeks.

Having not been at the show for a couple of years, it was good to renew old acquaintances and to see at first hand just how smoothly the organisation of such a big event goes.

One of the key factors, of course, is that the festival committee has now been working together for many years. It’s definitely a well oiled machine but don’t underestimate how much sheer graft is involved. One or two of them looked quite exhausted when the gates closed on Sunday evening.

Retiring chairman Ron Cross and his wife Hazel deserve much praise for the way they have led the development of the show in recent years. Ron had the hard task of following in the footsteps of Keith Berry, who is now the Festival President, but his gentle manner and attention to detail has stood him in good stead in seeing the festival go from strength to strength. And there’s always a happy atmosphere when Ron’s about.

Ron has stepped down after five years as chairman but will retain a position on the committee. Vice-chairman Claire Morgan, wife of local estate agent and Chamber of Commerce chairman Shane Morgan, has stepped up to the chairman’s role and I am sure will rise to the challenge, having been involved in the festival as an exhibitor and committee member since its inception 17 years ago. Claire has been responsible for the excellent “Spirit of The Community” marquee in recent years.

The organising committee have hardly had time todraw breath but work has already started on planning next year’s festival, which will be held over the weekend of June 23rd/24th, with Claire and her team determined to make sure that 2012 will be another bumper year. We will be there.

Discovering the ‘heart of Colyton’

THE licensing of the new Rector of Colyton, the Reverend Hilary Dawson, now known as the Mission Community Priest, saw the coming together of the Colyton community in a service of celebration and welcome, before a packed congregation which was only to be expected in Colyton.

Before the service started I introduced deputy churchwarden Ken Underdown to my daughter Francesca, who is covering the Colyton area for The Weekender, and he told her: “This is the heart of Colyton”.

Ken could not have chosen a better phrase as I was pointing out the various dignatories and community leaders to Francesca as they entered St Andrew’s Church for this special service. St Andrew’s has always been the “heart of Colyton” and I suspect it always will be.

The Reverend Dawson was left in no doubt that Colyton has a special community spirit. Her welcome could not have been warmer as representatives from various organisations and sections of the community stepped forward to offer their good wishes on her appointment.

A book of welcome poems from local children will serve as a reminder to the Dawson family, who will be living in the refurbished Rectory, of the day they discovered “the heart of Colyton”.

I NEVER cease to be amazed at the talent of our young people in this area. Last week I went to the opening of Axminster Drama Club’s production of 'Annie', which was brilliant. There were 30 or more children on stage and the lead role was taken on the night I attended by Louisa Harding-Perrott, aged 13.

She was simply stunning in the role and I understand that the young girl who took the part on the Saturday matinee, Maltilda Taylor, was just as good. Standing ovations for each of them - and much deserved.

Who says there is nothing to do in Axminster for young people?

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