Wednesday, 23 May 2012

A weekend we will never forget

IF you want to put on a show, call in the Royal Navy.

I’m not sure whether I have read that somewhere or just made it up, but if the weekend we have just experienced in Lyme Regis is anything to go by, it’s certainly true.

The visit of HMS Edinburgh to launch the celebrations in Lyme to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was hugely successful and all those involved in its planning should take a bow.

The weekend programme went without a hitch and Sunday’s naming of the Jubilee Pavilion was one of the most enjoyable events staged in the town for many years, made all the more memorable by the presence of a guard of honour from HMS Edinburgh and trumpeters from the Royal Marines at Lympstone.

As soon as the Royal Navy came to town they invited the press corps on board. I say “corps” but it actually turned out to be just me, Francesca and Nomad and Mary from Lyme TV. I can’t believe no other newspaper availed themselves of a once in 30 years opportunity.

I was able to interview the new captain of the type 42 destroyer, Commander Nick Borbone, an impressive young man clearly destined for higher things in the Senior Service, on the bridge. Francesca also interviewed one of the ratings who has family connections with the Broom family in Lyme Regis. 

We also spent an enjoyable hour in the Ward Room chatting to the young officers about their role at sea and on the ship. 

HMS Edinburgh is a bit of an old girl now, nearly 30 years old, and will be decommissioned when she completes a six-month tour of duty to the South Atlantic which starts in September.

And here’s an interesting Naval fact. The catering budget for the ship’s company is £2.47 per person per day for three cooked meals. For a police dog it’s £8.50!

I went back on board with Lyme’s good and the great (not including myself in that august group by the way, my presence being another press perk!) on Sunday evening when we were offered the very best of Royal Navy hospitality plus a guided tour around the ship.

Highlight of the evening was an inspiring and extremely funny speech by Commodore Jamie Miller CBE OBE,  the senior officer on board and one of the great characters of the Royal Navy. 

The evening ended in slight chaos for me. After several stiff Naval Bombay G and Ts I got separated from Jackie at the end of the evening and she had to wait for me on the Cobb in the freezing cold.  

I tried to get the vicar, the Reverend Jane Skinner, to come ashore with me to support my excuse for missing the boat but, wisely, she was having none of it. 

The only downside of the visit by HMS Edinburgh was a mix-up over young children going on board with the public visits but harbourmaster Grahame Forshaw, who did a superb job in co-ordinating the visit and had very little sleep last week, is arranging a treat for the disappointed kids.

HMS Edinburgh, of course, was not the only ship in town. The weekend coincided with the first visit by a cruise liner, the 6,000 tonne Silver Explorer, to Lyme.

A huge amount of work went into welcoming the 130 passengers ashore but some traders have expressed disappointment that they did not stay in town long enough to boost trade.

However, there have been some fantastic responses from the passengers about the friendliness of the townspeople, which augers well for future visits by the cruise ship company.

Don’t waste your vile bile on us....

IF the skateboard enthusaists who have set up their own “The Real View from Lyme Regis” site think that posting inaccurate, vile and libellous comments about this newspaper is doing their campaign for a skatepark in Lyme Regis any good, they should think again.

We have been castigated in a plethora of insulting comments after having had the temerity to publish a letter from one of our readers who is opposed to the skatepark plans in Charmouth Road. Comments about that person have also been highly insulting.

The skateboarders made the allegation that we have refused to print their letters in support of the skatepark. That’s a barefaced lie. We have only received two letters,  both of which we have printed.

And this week we give Councillor Lucy Campbell, the skateboarders’ champion who is working hard to deliver the facility, a half page editorial to answer the project’s critics.

The skateboarders would be better advised to spend their time fundraising for their long awaited and much overdue skateboard park rather than spreading their immature bile.

And they should also remember that the council taxpayers of Lyme Regis, having already paid a sizeable sum towards the project, will be contributing a further £75,000 over the next three years through funding from the town council to help toward the projected £100,000-£150,000 cost of the skatepark.

See you in the fall!

THIS is my last column for a few months - hurrah!  As usual, Lyme Matters is making way for Francesca’s Summertime in Lyme column next week and will not return until September.

When I announced this last year a number of readers thought I was taking three months off as well. So can I explain that I will be working as usual throughout the summer and with two columns a week to write for our other newspapers, I will be kept more than busy.

I hope you all have a lovely summer.

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