Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The spirit came shining through

OF ALL the comments I have heard over the Jubilee period, the one that tickled me the most came from Axminster Town Crier Nick Goodwin.

Nick takes his town crying duties vey serious and is mighty proud to hold the ancient position.

With the rain teeming down and when asked what was going to happen on Jubilee Tuesday, the day Axminster was going to hold its much anticipated street parties, Nick matter-of-factly replied: “Stay calm. We’re British!”

Nick, of course, is one of those persons whose glass is always half full, not half empty.
Just what you need when all around seems to being going astray.

Not that things were going astray in Axminster on the Big Day.  It just happening to be raining - so Plan B was swiftly put into action. That meant switching the street party planned for Trinity Square and Silver Street into four pre-arranged indoor venues - The Minster Church, The Church Room, upstairs in the Conservative Club and Thomas Whitty House which will soon become Aminster Heritage Centre.

And whilst it was a shame that the street parties could not ne held in the great British outdoors, moving them inside did not affect their spirit of the occasion one iota. The sun may not have been shining through, but the the community spirit of Axminster certainly was.

It involved everyone pulling together at the last moment, but tables and chairs were moved, flags were erected, and by the time the people of Axminster arrived to celebrate the Queen’s 60-year reign, the plans were in place for the best and biggest street party Axminster had ever seen.

And as for the town crier, well he threw himself wholeheartedly into making sure everyone had a good time, even leading spontaneous Jubilee dancing and succeeding in getting Lord of the Manor Jim Rowe on the floor.

These scenes were reported all over East Devon as the great British weather conspired to ruin the last day of the Jubilee celebrations.

Some actvities had to be curtailed, but overall the towns and villages of East Devon did Her Majesty proud.

Well done to all those who worked so hard in Pulman’s Country to make it a weekend to remember.

So what’s next? I met doyen councillor Douglas Hull, soon to complete 50 years in local government, and he told me not to forget September 2015.

I thought he was referring to his 90th birthday (sorry Douglas!) but he went on to explain that is when the Queen will celebrate being the longest serving British monarch of all time!

Stay calm - we’ve still got three years to plan it!

Squeaky bottom time in the big tent!

I WAS delighted to be invited to the gathering of past  and present footballers who had played on Sector Lane in Axminster to celebrate all the great times we have enjoyed over the years on what I described “the Wembley of local football”.

I was also privileged to have been asked to act as master of ceremonies for the evening, as I did at the Tigers’ centenary dinner ten years ago.

Well, that’s what I thought I was doing.  When I arrived I was greeted by Mayor Andrew Moulding who informed me I was down on the itinerary for the night as the main speaker to give “a potted history of Axminster Town”.

Needless to say I had not prepared anything so in the words of Alex Ferguson, it was “squeaky bottom time”.

I managed to cobble together a few facts and some old jokes and a good time was had by all. Again, the weather wasn’t over kind and at one time I thought the marquee was about to blow away. But it was a very enjoyable evening.

There were loads of ex-players present, some going back to when I played for the Tigers in the late 1960s. My sports editor, Howard Larcombe, later observed on Twitter that he had just seen Axminster’s Mike Lord - and he looked just as scary!

New book for the Jubilee

I’VE been intending for some time to write something about recently retired local photographer Colin Bowermen who served Pulman’s Weekly News so well over a period of nearly 20 years.

The ideal opportunity arose on Saturday morning when I accepted an invitation from Ted Gosling to attend the launch of his latest book at Axmouth.

Ted, Freeman of Seaton and the driving force for many years behind the town’s musuem, is one of the most prolific authors of local books.  His latest - Seaton and Axmouth - Within Living Memory - has been written in conjunction with Axmouth resident Mike Clement, who has a great interest in local history, and has been dedicated to Colin, who has provided many of the photos.

Colin recently packed his camera away after more than 40 years as a press photographer, training on the Maidenhead Advertiser and then working in Fleet Street before moving to Colyton in 1983 and joining the staff of Pulman’s.

In latter years he became a freelance but was still the public face of Pulman’s, bombing around East Devon, covering various engagements in the jovial fashion which became his hallmark.

His wife Di, a reporter on the Sidmouth Herald, has also retired and they are now able to spend much more time with their family looking after the grandchildren.

Their contribution to the community life of East Devon over so many years will not be forgotten.

Ted and Mike’s latest book is another wonderful collection of photographs from around the area, some of which have not been published before.

It has been brought out to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and contains a photo of Queen Victoria’s Diamond celebrations in Seaton in 1897.

Copies of the book can be bought for £12.99 from Seaton Museum.

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