Thursday, 10 November 2011

Let’s make it Lyme’s Olympic Day

IT was a pretty dismal weekend with a pall of sadness hanging over the West Country following the horrifc multi-vehicle accident on the M5 near Taunton, which killed seven people in the most frightening circumstances.

My mood was not brightened by the ever-depressing news from the Cannes summit that the euro is in near meltdown and we are bracing ourselves to provide more millions to bail it out.

So it was great on Monday morning to get some good news with the announcement that the Olympic torch will be passing through Lyme Regis on Thursday, July 12th.

A truly unique event which will probably never happen again and an unexpected but unbelievable opportunity for Lyme to celebrate London 2012 and provide an early boost to next year’s summer season.

Within seconds of hearing the news I was on the blower to Mayor Sally Holman who let out a squeal of excitement and immediately went into First Citizen mode, providing me with a quote for our story and then immediately deciding that the occasion must be celebrated in true Lyme Regis fashion.

Other towns in Dorset are already planning their celebrations and the mayor will probably put together some form of working party to do the same. We don’t know who will be carrying the golden torch through Lyme, although young lifeboat crew member Ritchie Durrant, an excellent all-round sportsman, has been nominated. A decision will not be made until December 11th.

The occasion will give Lyme’s sporting organisations the chance to promote themselves and I hope it will be possible to provide an escort for the torchbearer through Lyme made up of representatives of the town’s leading sporting groups. It would be good if July 12th could be designated as “Lyme’s Olympic Day.”

Next year is shaping up to one of the most exiting in Lyme’s recent history. Not ony do we have the fossil and earth festivals, there will be a rejuvenated jazz, blues and beer festival, celebrations to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the arrival of the first cruise liner in the bay, packed, we are told, with rich Americans, Lifeboat and Regatta & Carnival weeks and the increasingly popular ArtsFest.

It’s going to be some summer!

SATURDAY was one of those days I promised that I would never put myself through again when I suffered a bout of illness a couple of years ago.

At lunchtime I was invited to speak on the press at the West Dorset Conservative Association conference at Frampton, near Dorchster, and enjoyed engaging in a lively debate on local politics with association members and West Dorset councillors.

I sped back to Lyme after lunch to make preparations for the Cancer Research UK curry night, which we were holding at the Lister Room in the Marine Parade shelters that evening while the bonfire and fireworks display was happening.

Jackie had spent all day cooking curry and we had to take all the food and equipment down to the shelters before the 6pm start.

We made a profit of £300, which takes us nearly to £7,000 for the year so far, so a big thank you to those who supported the event.

I did not see the fireworks because I had another speaking engagement that evening but everyone says what a good display it was, witnessed by a huge crowd.

I had to leave Jackie and Francesca to host the curry night, with the help of Nigel Fortnam and Cliff Powley, because I had agreed to compere the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance, which I have done many times before.

Despite clashing with the fireworks, the concert was supported by over 100 Legion members and friends and turned out to be another great nostalgic evening to celebrate the Legion’s 90th birthday.

So well done to Alan Vian and his Regatta and Carnival helpers for putting on another grand fireworks display and also to members of the Lyme branch for their dedication and commitment to the continuing important work of the Royal British Legion, which is as important today as it was when the organisation was formed in 1921.

10,000 people can’t be wrong, can they?

I have written a couple of times in this column about my support for the regenerated Marine Parade Shelters, although I accept I am out of kilter with some of my fellow Lyme Regians on this.

I believe, however, they have made a huge difference to the seafront, adding a touch of class to what used to be a very unloved building.

The shelters will now be closed for a few weeks whilst the town council and users group assess the various comments and suggestions that have been made for its future use by those who have visited the central pavilion - over 10,000 people between the end of August and the end of October.

I think that figure speaks for itself.

Year Book out soon

LAST year, you may recall, we published a Year Book for 2010, chronicling all the events in and around Lyme over that year. Several have asked whether there will be a 2011 edition. Yes, there will.

Jackie has already started on putting the book together and it should be on sale before Christmas.

We are hoping to produce a similar book every year which could eventually turn into the definitive modern history of Lyme.

Francesca has also produced a little A5 book, based on her Summertime In Lyme column featuring photos from Lyme’s multitude of summer events.

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