Friday, 25 November 2011

Stand by for another record

IF you thought this year’s Axe Vale Festival was good, just wait until next June. The 2011 show was a record-breaker with the organising committee reporting this week that a fantastic profit of £43,000 had been achieved - but, as they say in the most refined circles, “you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

The 2012 festival, which will be the 18th annual event, promises to be a real bumper affair and will feature a showcase marquee to celebrate Axminster Tool Centre’s 40th year in business, as well as Axminster Carpets marking their 75th anniversary.

To this add a 100 feet track and train from Pecorama, likely to be a big attraction, and a mobile bowls mat which Cloakham Lawn sports centre plan to bring along to the festival to promote their activities.

The festival usually attracts between 14,000 and 15,000 visitors but that total will surely be exceeded next year.

The friendly festival has come a long was since its very first show in 1994 which was organsed to raise money to help finance the Flamingo Pool in Axminster. Up until last year the pool had received £166,000 with a further donation being made this week.

With the £23,000 allocated to worthy local causes at the annual meeting this week, the festival has now raised a staggering £300,000 since its formation.

Many of those who served on the organising committee have been with the festval since its inception and that is probably one of the reasons why the show has been such a storming success.

They have got it down to a fine art and the Axe Valley Festival is not only one of the most popular one-day shows in Devon - it’s also one of the best organised.

Ron Cross stood down as chairman at Wednesday’s annual meeting, having seen the show reach new heights under his stewardship, but will stay on the committee. The role of chairing the festival committee now falls on the capable shoulders of Claire Morgan who has been a festival helper for many years and has served the Axminster community well in many capacities.

It’s a daunting task but with such an experienced and committed committee behind her, I have no doubt that Claire will be a worthy successor to Ron and the festival will continue to go from strength to strength.

The 2012 festival will undoubtedly be yet another record-breaker.

Celebrating a long and fruitful life

I MADE sure I got to the church early for Marjorie Rowe’s funeral at The Minster in Axminster on Monday. I arrived a good half hour before the thanksgiving service was due to start and virtually every seat was taken by then.

Rector John Streeting said he had never seen the church so full and the large attendance was recognition of the esteem in which Mrs Rowe was held.

I had seen the church as full but only on one occasion - the funeral of Mrs Rowe’s husband Frank in 1994. Frank, of course, was “Mr Axminster” and a large attendance was expected.
It was good to see that Mrs Rowe, who concentrated on bringing up their three children whilst Frank built his auctioneering and cattle market business, made her own impact on the community.

It latter years, of course, she was not only the matriarch of the Rowe family but also revered in the local agricultural circles, not only in Axminster but in the Bridport area where she lived in latter years, allegedly to “keep an eye on son Jim”!

Son-in-law Mike Harvey did a splendid job, delivering a touching but humorous eulogy, and afterwards the congregation were invited back to the Guildhall where Mrs Rowe’s long and fruitful life was celebrated in suitable fashion.

THIS week, as reported on page three, we intoduce a fourth title to our stable of Weekenders in East Devon with the launch of our Ottery St Mary edition.

More good news next week; we are splitting our Axe Valley Weekender with separate editions for Axminster & Colyton and Seaton & Beer to provide an even better local news service as well as introducing more dedicated pages for our Honiton and Sid Vale papers.

This week also sees a record 64 pages, another milestone in what has been an hectic 2011. Thanks for your continued support.

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