Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A day not to be forgotten

JUST 114 days to the once in a lifetime opportunity for the people of Lyme Regis and district.

I refer, of course, to the Olympic Torch relay passing through our town on Thursday, July 12th.

There are still a few people in Lyme who can remember being taken to Honiton to see the Olympic torch pass through in 1948 when the world’s greatest sporting event was last held in England.

There has been a great deal of secrecy surrounding the exact details of the relay since the route was announced in November.

But all was revealed this week. The torch will pass through Lyme, approaching the town from Charmouth Road, at approximatelyt 3.35 pm. It will be carried into the Square and then taken up Broad Street and Pound Street and down to the Cobb where, presumambly, there will be an appropriate photo opportunity.

Unfortunately, the torch will not be carried by a local person; that honour has been given to Paddy Coker, from Blandford Forum, and Clive Allison from Poole.

No details have yet been released about why Messrs Coker and Allison were chosen, but one must assume they are worthy recipients of the honour and we should feel privileged that the torch and its entourage will be travelling through our town.

Mayor Sally Holman and a small group of people have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that Lyme’s “Olympic Day” will be one not to be fogotten.

All local schools are being encouraged to witness the event by lining the route, flags at the ready, and it is hoped to lay on a programme of events which will feature Lyme’s sporting fraternity.

The Corinthian Atlantic rowers - Elliot Dale, Brian Fletcher, Chris Walters and Tony Short - will certainly feature prominently in the celebreations for they are Lyme’s recognised “Olympians” after their magnificent record-breaking feat of completing the Atlantic Challenge.

Now that the actual logistics of the torch relay are public knowledge, Sally’s committee will be completing their plans and making them public in the next few weeks.

Those of you who keep an eye on the public purse (and I know there are many of you out there), the Lyme “Olympic Day” celebrations will not be a financial burden on the town council as a small grant has been secured from West Dorset District Council to cover expenses.

Coming hard on the heels of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, this will provide another occasion for Lyme to demonstrate its community spirit.

Interest and excitement in the Olympic Games, which starts on July 27th, is growing by the day and is likely to reach fever point before the torch is carried proudly through our streets.

The day will surely provide lasting memories for all who witness this historic sporting event.

Excellent early publicity for Lyme

“ONE of the prettiest places in the UK.” That’s how television presenter John Sargeant described Lyme Regis in his new series on Victorian photograher Francis Frith.

Frith set himself a mission in the late 1800s to take a photograph of every city, town and village in the United Kingdom and took several of Lyme, including the iconic shot of the Old Fossil Depot at the bottom of Broad Street.

In his new series, Sargeant, who visited Lyme with his oneman show shortly before he made a big impact on  Strictly Come Dancing for having no rhythm and two left feet, is touring the country trying to capture modern views of the Frith collection.

Of course, he was unable to picture the Old Fosssil Depot for it was demolished in the early 1900s to make way for The Vaults pub, now the Rock Point.

But he did find the whale bone pictured outside the shop which now has pride of place inside the museum with a little help from historian Ken Gollop.

Sargeant also featured the Town Mill miller Steve White, historian Martin Roundell Green and local fossil expert Chris Andrew.

The programme, filmed in September when the town was basking in autumn sunshine,  provided some excellent early spring publicity for Lyme.

Will Sally be the last of the old style mayors?

A COUPLE of weeks ago in this column I expressed the hope that Sally Holman would get a second year as mayor of our town so that she could reap the reward for all her hard work in setting up the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the coming to Lyme of the Olympic torch relay.

Sally was duly chosen Mayor Elect last week and will preside over what promises to be a spectacular summer, not that my mutterings on the subject had any influence on that decision.

The new deputy mayor will be Councillor Anita Williams, who was elected to the town council last May and is following in the footsteps of her father, former councillor and mayor Stan Williams.

I chose to go into print in support of Sally because the rumour mill was working overtime over whether the new council would stick with the position of mayor in its present format or downgrade the role to a ceremonial one only with the appointment of a council chairman or leader.

I don’t think that Sally’s election as First Citizen for another year necessarily means that such a move is now on the backburner and it may well surface again after she has completed her second term of office.

But the council has done the right and honorable thing in allowing her to preside over the next year which will surely be one of the most memorable in our history.

Sally could even turn out to be the last of the old-style mayors, although I hope that will not be the case.

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