Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Get friendly, the Navy’s in town!

NEXT weekend promises to be a really special occasion for Lyme Regis.

Not only is the town receiving its first ever cruise ship, but the Royal Navy will be calling into the resort with a visit from HMS Edinburgh to mark the start of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Lyme with a busy programme of receptions and community events.

And one of the highlights of the weekend will be the official opening of the new Jubilee Pavilion in the Marine Parade shelters.  Mayor Sally Holman, accompanied by the First Lady of Lyme, Councillor Barbara Austin MBE and the Commanding Officer of HMS Edinburgh, will perform the opening ceremony with a group of Royal Marine trumpeters in attendance.

The ship’s officers will be invited to a civic reception at the Guildhall on Friday evening followed by an invitation to the Ware Lane home of Minnie Churchill, Deputy Lieutenant of Dorset.

The Royal Navy will return hospitality with 100 of the town’s community leaders being invited on board on Sunday evening.

The ship’s company and locals will be able to get to know each other with the Gig Club challenging them to a race and a football match between the crew and Lyme Regis Football Club at the Davey Fort.

The Woodroffe School Combined Cadet Force will also be invited onto HMS Edinburgh, as will the Bridport Sea cadets.

Nearly 200 local people will also be going on board, having purchased £2 tickets to do so, all of which sold out in a day following our story in last week’s paper.

The cruise ship Silver Explorer will be mooring off shore from 7 am and 130 passengers are expected to come ashore with a variety of activities and excursions being laid on for them, including a fossil tour by Paddy Howe and a Jane Austen tour conducted by Nathalie Manifold.

It is hoped that this will be the first of many more such visits in the town, helping to boost the local economy.

As you can imagine, co-ordinating such a busy weekend has been quite a task. I’ve seen a copy of the itinerary and it seems to me that Mayor Sally Holman and her team, including harbourmaster Grahame Forshaw have done an excellent job. 

The visit of a Royal Navy ship to Lyme Regis was a regular occurrence when I was a young reporter. I have hazy memories of coming off one ship with doyen reporter David Cozens in a highly excited state, such was the hospitality of the Royal Navy.

In these days of stringent defence cuts, it will be interesting to experience the level of hospitality offered by the Senior Service. I am sure it will be just as enjoyable.

This week the mayor has encouraged residents to  extend the hand of friendship to officers and ratings of HMS Edinburgh, one of our frontline warships,  and to join in the celebrations to mark the start of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, which start in earnest the following week.

I am sure the sailors will enjoy a warm welcome from local residents and I hope the town turns out in force for the opening of the Jubilee Pavilion.

No wonder they love Lyme so much

I’M WRITING this column on Sunday morning doing my volunteer stint on the information desk at the Seafront Welcome Point in the Marine Parade shelters.

It’s a glorious early summer sunny morning and of course Lyme looks its serene self with an azure blue, sparkling sea.  

Two gigs are progressing across the Bay, now a regular and welcome sight and looking much slicker than they did last year.

A group of middle aged men are stood at the sea’s edge, skimming stones across of water, and there’s the gentle hum of power boats competing in the British Water Ski championships further out to sea.

There’s much comment from the visitors to the shelters about next week’s visit by HMS Edinburgh, many of them expressing disappointment that their visit to Lyme isn’t a week later. 

The redevelopment of the shelters continue to receive complimentary comments from the visitors, many of whom say that Lyme is their favourite place to visit on a Sunday. 

Is it any wonder?

Ban mobiles from council chamber

THERE’S a debate going on nationally about whether pupils should be banned from using their mobile telephones in school.

I’ve got another idea. Let’s ban councillors from using their ‘phones during council meetings, especially in Lyme Regis.

They don’t actually use them to call people or receive calls during a meeting. But over the past few months I have noticed one or two of them checking their text and emails and flicking through their pictures.

And recently there was an embarrassing incident in which two councillors were so engrossed in what they were looking at that they had to be asked by the committee chairman and another leading councillor to concentrate on the matter under discussion.

We should expect better of our elected representatives and the mayor should ban their use whilst meetings are in progress.  If it’s that urgent, they could always leave the chamber to check their messages.

Sticking with the Pearl...

TOWN councillors have made the right decision in sticking with 'Pearl of Dorset' as the town’s tourism slogan. 

I’ve always thought that it sums up Lyme perfectly  but I agree that it could be used much more effectively.  With input from the lively Lyme Traders’ Organisation, this should now happen.

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