Wednesday, 23 January 2013


ALTHOUGH Sharon Ward lives in Eastleigh, she spends her weekends at her parents’ home in Raymonds Hill, near Lyme Regis, and also returns on Tuesdays to teach at Lyme Regis Taekwondo Club. Sharon grew up in Surrey and her parents moved to the area in 1994. Whilst staying with them she had to travel to Weymouth or Bournemouth to train in taekwondo, so eventually set up her own club in 2005. She currently works at the MoD Camp in Worthy Down, Winchester, at the Junior Ranks Mess.

HOW did you first become interested in taekwondo?
I first got involved in taekwondo while I was living in London, to help with my asthma, as I had read that martial arts and especially taekwondo was very good for controlling it. I found a local club and started training. I loved it, my asthma improved amazingly and 14 years later the rest, they say, is history. 

WHEN did you set up Lyme Regis Taekwondo Club?
I set up my club in 2005 as, while I was living down here, I had to travel to Weymouth and Bournemouth to train which is quite far away. I also noticed that Lyme doesn’t have enough facilities to provide children or adults with the opportunity to sample varied sports. It was limited to football or cricket. So I decided I would love to share my skills with people and let them experience a very different sport. 

TELL us about your classes…
I run two classes - one for children aged from four and a half or five years upwards, and then an adults or senior grade class. We meet on Tuesdays at the Scout Hut in Rhode Lane. Children’s class from 5pm to 6.30pm and adults from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. The classes are for all abilities, anyone regardless of their age or physical ability can join. 

WHAT are the benefits of taking up taekwondo?
There are many benefits to taking up taekwondo. It can improve overall health, fitness, flexibility, co-ordination, balance and stamina. You gain confidence as you progress. It also gives you a sense of achievement when you manage to master a technique or gain a grade. As with any excercise you always get a feel good feeling.

YOU attended the London Olympics last year. What did you get to see?
I was lucky enough to get tickets to see taekwondo at the Olympics, the only thing I applied for and wanted to see. For me, I enjoyed the atmosphere everywhere and the satisfaction that, for once, people all over the world and country get to see the sport I love on television, watching the best players (fighters). I also enjoyed the fact that I was there! I have something to tell my nephews, my students and future students – the best multi-sport competition in the world came to our country and I was there! It will never happen again in my lifetime. I have amazing memories that will stay with me forever and long after the hype all died down.

HOW did you feel about Team GB winning gold in taekwondo?
I think my reaction was tension followed by loud screams, woops, jumping up and down, punching the air, tears, and a huge grin! Oh, and of course a massive sense of pride. I had always thought that Jade Jones would bring us back the gold as she was our best fighter. If they had let Aaron Cook in the team they would have had two golds. It made me feel that more people may now start taking an interest in taekwondo, and realising what it is, and hoping that big companies will help fund training Dojangs, athletes and small clubs like they do with football and other mainstream sports.

WHAT are your personal interests?
Other than taekwondo I enjoy the outdoors - camping, walking (all stemmed from being a Guide and Guide Leader), going to the gym, swimming, cycling, running. I also enjoy reading and baking.

WHAT do you like about Lyme Regis and the surrounding area?
What I really love about Lyme and surrounding areas is the amazing scenery, the sea, the friendliness of the people and the community spirit.

WHAT would you change about the town if you could?
If I could I would make sure that there was lots of different sports available to everyone - not just children. Utilise the facilities that we have, maximise to benefit the community rather than just seeing them go to waste or getting used for just one thing. There is a lot of land/buildings that can be used more. I would have indoor facilities that can be used for planned outdoor activities when the rain hits, so they don’t have to be cancelled. I would have less restrictions on parking times to help keep the locals here and attract tourists, not just in the summer months.

WHERE is your ideal holiday destination?
I have two ideal holidays. One would be to be Hudson bay, Churchill, Cananda. The reason being one of my passions is polar bears and I have always wanted to go to Hudson Bay and go out in a Tundra Buggy to see the polar bears up close. My other has to be South Korea, Birthplace of Taekwondo. Iwould love to be able to go over there and experience the culture and get to train with the best.

Good luck with that, councillor!

IT had all the makings of a classic television comedy and more than a few smiles were raised when Councillor John Birtwistle struck a death blow at the heart of council jargon.

Officers went white and a fresh consignment of lily of the valley smelling salts was ordered for staff at director level and above when he suggested that the council should not only commit itself to using plain English but agree a review of how it was doing in a year’s time.

What was the man thinking of, buzzed the grapevine? Didn’t he realise that there could be all sorts of trouble if residents actually understood what the council was doing?

So there were a few nervous faces when management committee met and approved such an approach because it was totally new ground.

Now it may not sound like much and there will be those who feel it’s got two chances of success – fat chance and no chance – but it is now a matter of record and if devious attempts are made to kick it off into the long grass then I’m sure Councillor Birtwistle can be relied upon to get his scythe out and uncover it again.

I’ve seen council agenda paragraphs so badly written that not only I couldn’t understand them but neither could senior council officers when I asked them what it meant. Try this for instance.

“Displacement: no displacement has been assumed (i.e. no impacts identified represent reduced levels of activity elsewhere) for the WPNSA. In the case of the WPNSA (the 2013 options assessed) this represents the maturity of the operations. 

In the case of commercial development, a “low” level of displacement is assumed (25%) to take account of displacement at the local level as firms vacate sites to relocate to the site being assessed.”

Just crying out for a Crystal Mark for clarity isn’t it? But, believe me it is simplicity itself when compared to some council offerings. The grim delight comes with the fact that this was actually a paragraph from a later item on the same management committee agenda! 

We should all wish Councillor Birtwistle much luck.

Perhaps we could suggest a few legacies of our own?

COUNCILLORS have recently thrashed out a priority list of Olympic legacy proposals for Weymouth and Portland to cash in on.

I can now exclusively reveal that the fairy on top of this particular tree will be a new Museum of Roadworks and Queues which will be opening this summer.

Star exhibits include a shovel leaned on by Lord Coe, a complete unused set of shop cash bank paying in books covering the entire Olympic period and a rare brand new 2005 Vauxhall Corsa. 

Archaeologists say they recently found the car perfectly preserved in a side street where it had been parked and abandoned after being caught in the first Olympic traffic queues six years ago.

The museum’s new home will be in hastily converted accommodation at the former North Quay council offices which the authority no longer needs now all staff are preparing for transfer to the Charles Street Golf and Country Club in Dorchester.

Other world-beating proposals include an extension of the national and health lotteries to have a local one in Weymouth with the top prize being a new flower border wall of your choice made from recycled Pavilion bricks once the building has been demolished to make way for a new complex.

This will feature an impressive range of much needed charity shops, estate agents and cafes at first floor level.

The scheme at this and several other levels will be paid for by a tasteful selection of 420 luxury apartments created by 60 separate schemes restricted in each case to just seven state of the art outlets to avoid triggering any development requirement to provide affordable homes.

So when – and if – the powers that be carry out their stated intent to consult the public on which potential legacy ideas the council should concentrate on, you might want to suggest a few of your own!

Think again before we lose all our visitors

YOU have to raise a wry smile at national coverage that Weymouth’s car parking charges are now officially among the most expensive in the country.

We’ve known that for years as those nice machines took our hard earned cash for the privilege of parking to tour Weymouth’s growing number of empty shops.

National figures show it is costing us a fortune, but the irony is they only confirm what every resident has lived with for a long time.

Worse still, the wailing and wringing of hands over those charges fails to highlight the fact that this isn’t something just recently inflicted on us.

We have actually had a freeze on car parking charges recently and the aforementioned dreadful fee levels were demanded of us some time ago, so it is an ongoing evil.

Dare I say it that there have been a few “green shoots” of common sense shown recently by the authorities with the introduction of free Sunday parking etc.

But it is going to take a fundamental rethink in these times of recession if we are not to lose our visitors to other resorts with more welcoming – and cheaper – facilities for parking and tourism paraphernalia.

Our failed attempt to save hospital

I TOOK a call this week from entertainer and former Lyme Regis resident Richard Digance  who wanted to know, for reasons I won’t go into, when we staged a week of entertainment featuring many of his showbiz mates in a bid to save the Lyme Regis Hospital.

Richard, who at the time was one of the most popular light entertainment stars in  the country, with a prime-time Saturday night TV programme, lived in Clappentail Lane with his then wife, Debbie, and two daughters.

We were all keen cricketers at the time, playing at Uplyme, and as one of Richard’s daughters was suffering from a rare form of cancer, we decided we would put on a week of entertainment at the Marine Theatre to raise money for the hospital which had served the town since 1893 at various locations.

I thought it was in the mid-1980s and I contacted former bank manager Keith Jenkin, husband of town councillor Lorna Jenkin, who was chairman of the committee we set up to organise the week which we called “Operation Lyme Regis Hospital”. 

Keith did a bit of asking around and finally came across a copy of the programme and popped it down to the office. The event actually took place in June 1989 and we designated one of the days for an early Christmas celebration with the town shops trimming up, a Christmas children’s parade and carolling with the Town Band on Gunn Cliff - in June!

Richard managed to persuade some of the top names in variety to support the event and appear at the Marine Theatre with comedian Jim Davidson topping the bill. Others included comics Hale and Pace, Jim Bowen (he of Bullseye fame) and West Country favourite Jethro.

Richard, of course, did a couple of shows and other big names included impressionist Mike Osman, singer Elkie Brooks and comedians Dave Lee and Kevin Devane. 

As the proceedings were organised by a group of sports mad young men, the programme featured a number of sporting events, including a football match against Yeovil Town in which a number of the stars and ex-players took part, including Hale & Pace and former England player Gerry Francis with former Chelsea star Peter Osgood in attendance.

There was also a cricket match between a Media XI captained by yours truly and a Celebrity XI led by Richard.

Jim Davidson stayed in Lyme for a day longer than expected to commentate on the match and I shall never forget when he decided to play cricket for the very first time, walking out to bat imitating Second World War flying ace Douglas Bader.

The week was an unforgettable success and we managed to raise £30,000, a lot of dosh in 1989.

We failed miserably in saving the hospital and the money later went into the public fund in support of the town’s new medical centre. 

New town clerk revealed tonight

TOWN councillors will, tonight, be appointing a successor to town clerk Mike Lewis - the ninth to serve the old borough and town since the last war.

Seven candidates were interviewed for the post and a special meeting of the town council will be held tonight to receive the recommendation of the Human Resources Sub-Committee made up of the committee chairmen.

The new town clerk will take over from Mike Lewis in March and will preside over a crucial period for the town council with the possibility of greater responsibilities being handed down to parish level under the Localism Act.

Mr Lewis is retiring having worked for the town council, first as finance officer, succeeding, Eric Griffin, since 1985 and having been appointed to the top job in 1999.

Mike’s predecessor was Nick Cornwall, who went onto to serve as a councillor after resigning from the town clerk’s job.  

Before that and going back to the 1940s, the post was held by Judith Amesbury, Robin Munday, Philip Latham, Harry Williams, Albert Lane and Gilbert Atterbury.

With 14 years of service under his belt Mike will have been one of the longest serving town clerks with only Harry Williams and Gilbert Atterbury wearing the wig and gown for longer periods.

His excellent service to the town will, I am sure, be recognised over the next few weeks as he prepares all the DIY jobs his wife Vivienne, a Lyme girl, lines up for him!

Heroes in their own right

ELSEWHERE in this week's newspaper we report on the financial success of last summer’s Candles On The Cobb.

The event, now established as one of the town’s most spectacular sights, with 5,000 candles illuminating the Cobb, made an incredible £22,000.  

Half of this will be donated to the Help For Heroes charity with the remaining 50 per cent being donated to 15 local youth organisations.

The brainchild of champion fundraisers Phil Street, the town’s former town crier now living and working in France, and assistant harbourmaster Mike Higgs, this unique event has now raised tens of thousands of pounds for good causes since it was first held back in 2000.

Members of the organising committee will next week travel to Teddington House, the H4H flagship recovery centre for those members of the Armed Forces injured in conflict, to present their cheque to Help For Heroes - the second biggest single donation they have ever received.

The next Candles On The Cobb will be held in August 2015 and the planning is already underway for yet another spectacular event which will attract thousands to the town.

Phil and Mike and their band of helpers deserve all the praise that have been heaped on the over the years. They are true local heroes.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


BORN on one of the minor islands of Fiji, Rob Kilburn spent his first two-a-half years on a Pacific island before his family settled in Warminster, Wiltshire. On leaving home he moved to South Wales where he married twice, and had two sons, Ben and Macawley. He moved to Weymouth in 2007 where he started work for Dorset County Council, specialising in IT. He now lives in Cerne Abbas. Rob hit the news when, seriously overweight, he lost over 10 stone, transforming his life in the process.

WHAT do you think caused you to struggle with your weight?
I have always been big, but weight seemed to get worse as a teenager. After discussing it with a few experts, it seems that my struggle was with different emotional times in my life, both good and bad. You could say that through certain periods of my life food became my friend and I sought solace in it. But now food is fuel and I only eat what I need to function. 

WHAT made you decide to lead a healthier lifestyle – was there a turning point?
A very good friend at work left me a clipping on my desk advertising participation in a reality TV show for obese people. After sending some pictures and answering some questions I was invited to a casting session and was then given a place on the TV show. It was a great experience, being tested by a team in one of the top sports facilities and being filmed. Unfortunately there was only room for 10 participants out of the 12 of us and I was released from the programme in April and all the support that went with it. I think it was also a realisation that I could do something but more than that I needed to do something.

HOW did you do achieve the weight loss?
I cut down on portion sizes and also the types of foods I was eating. I would scour the shops looking at all the food before I would buy it, checking carb sugars, fat content and other unnecessary ingredients 

WAS there a low point during the fitness/health regime?
The start was very tough, the physical exercise was demanding and the food was smaller portions and different than I was used to, but the low point was after steadily losing weight I ended up putting over half a stone on in one weekend, after bingeing on fruit. The weight came off in the week that followed but it was quite upsetting 

What was the high point?
The high point is seeing people for the first time since losing the weight and also losing 18 inches from my waist and taking clothes from the rail in the shops, but there are more high points to come, including finding love.

HOW has it changed your life?
I am a totally different person, I can walk long distances and also do more physical things than I used to but doing normal things like sitting in a normal car or the chair at a hairdressers, these things are brilliant. I feel more alive and feel that I can take on the world every day now, my life has started again. 

WHAT do your friends and family think?
My friends all mention that they like the new me, they all comment on how well I look. My family are happier and were worried about my health, but do not worry now. 

WHAT are your tips for anyone wanting to get healthy?
Look at what you are doing in your life. Think about what it is that you want and be positive about the fact that you can achieve it. I started out a bit daunted but I have believed in myself and this has pushed me forward. You will find it hard to start with but it gets easier and it will be fun!

HOW important is your time in the air cadets to you?
My time in the air cadets brought me discipline and also comradeship. This has helped me in my lifestyle change as I have had some support from the leisure centre and also from my trainer but the majority of the work I have had to do myself and have had to pull it out of the bag. These attributes I gained from the cadets has helped immensely. 

WHO would play you in the movie of your life?
I think that I would like to be played by John Goodman as I feel we have similar mannerisms, although he would have to slim down a bit for the last bit of the movie, ha ha!

DO you have a hero, living or dead?
I think that there have been many strong people in history and I think that Scott and his team when they went to the Antarctic, with the little equipment that they had, that took a special kind of person. 

YOU have just won a 'Life Oscar' for being you. Who do you thank?
I would thank everyone whom I have met, because your life is a journey and you get experiences from all people whether they were good or bad. But specific people are my family, my mum and dad especially, lots of friends who have given me their support without prompting and my two sons, who are the real inspiration for this life change. Thank you all.

Rubbish blighting our land

IT is well outside the tourist season yet the job of maintaining the RSPB’s Radipole and Lodmoor reserves in Weymouth against an influx of litter has never been tougher.

I recently came across staff out and about armed with litter pincers picking up every kind of discarded waste from beer cans to fast food containers and any amount of plastic, some of which they said might have been blown in on the wind but some of which had clearly been discarded in situ.

The worst example has to involve man’s best friend with dog mess being bagged up.

Nothing wrong with that. In fact it is laudable, but what happens next is somewhat less praiseworthy.

Either dog owners felt so exhausted by their efforts to bag mess that they only had enough energy left to throw it into the undergrowth or they correctly placed it in bins only for vandals to raid containers and derive some warped pleasure from throwing it about everywhere.

Whatever the core reason, those engaged on rubbish clearance had no trouble finding bag after bag of the unsavoury offerings and were soon well on the way to filling a bin liner.

What made it all the more incredible to me was that barely 48 hours had passed since the same area had been cleared of surface rubbish, so if people want this town’s reserves to remain major attractions they had better buck their ideas up and take a more responsible attitude to rubbish.

Will all these leaks and potholes ever get mended?

LAST winter’s icy spells were blamed for a rash of monster potholes all over Weymouth and Portland so I suppose prolonged recent rain must be to blame for our current collection.

These range from wheel-shattering pits in Abbotsbury Road and Chafeys Avenue to dozens more similar hazards pretty much anywhere you care to drive.

Also of some concern are seemingly permanent water leaks in Quibo Lane, Chickerell Road, Goldcroft Road, Dorchester Road, Upwey and many other places.

Add all these problems together and you produce a focus on road and service maintenance which is clearly worrying.

Cutbacks rather than adding to staff seems to be the order of the day everywhere, but if winter ever arrives in South Dorset then holes in roads will only get worse while leaks will turn to ice and compound both problems.

I only mention this because we are approaching budget time for councils and the end of the financial year for companies, so it will be interesting to see what approach each adopts towards holes and leaks. 

If both are still obvious by July you’ll have your answer.

Spring is sprung but winter could be back to bite us!

SPRING is here and everything in the garden is coming up a treat.

You and I know that we’re bound to get winter’s blast at some stage, but all the plants know is that they’ve never had it so mild for so long at this time of year.

The result is that trees are showing buds, grass is greening up and almost incredibly I’ve got a couple of daffodils preparing to flower in one of my borders.

There is another school of thought that everything is trying to get out of the ground to avoid being drowned, but it is still pretty startling to see flowers out or nearly out this early in the year.

I’ve heard of other gardens which actually had daffodils out before Christmas which beggars belief and I’m also bound to say that the other day I put in a couple of hours of greenhouse clearing and vegetable garden weeding which I’ve never been able to do in January before.

It is here I sound a note of caution. Just as we were wrong to welcome all those lovely dry conditions early last year only to spend the rest of the year wearing water wings, it may be a bit early to write winter off yet.

Do you know you’ve got an elephant on your head?

JUST what in the name of all that’s holy has happened to people’s heads?

At almost any other time of the year they are bare or, at worst, covered in an anorak hood, but for at least the last fortnight ordinary inoffensive members of the public have been startled by some truly outlandish headgear.

I speak of those ludicrous Christmas presents given to warm heads and ears but which are provided disguised as a potty penguin, a manic moose or, most recently, a weird walrus.

On children such objects look creative and fun but on middle-aged men with hands full of shopping bags then wearing a cross-eyed elephant on their heads looks just what it is. Ludicrous!

If you then add what I suppose must be viewed as an accessory – namely large ears which fold down over the man’s ears to button under his chin -- then clearly it is only a matter of time before the men with white coats catch up with him.

His only consolation when that happens will be that when they throw him into a ward for the fashionably deranged he’ll be greeted by whoever gave him such a present because they’re bound to be there already!

Anita not standing for mayor

MY piece in last week’s column on the future of the mayoralty in Lyme Regis caused much discussion and the current deputy mayor, Councillor Anita Williams, has written to me to make her own position crystal clear.

Anita, daughter of former Lyme councillor and ex-mayor Stan Williams, has impressed many with the manner she has carried out her duties as deputy to Sally Holman and has been approached by other councillors with a view to succeeding Sally in May.

It is disappointing to report, however, that Anita will not be allowing her name to go forward to become the first ever father-daughter to wear the mayoral chains – although she hopes that one day she may well do so.

Anita explained that when she took the role of deputy mayor it was on the understanding that she could not commit to being mayor as she did not know what her work commitments would be.

A qualified solicitor, Anita now works full time for in the legal department at Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and on that basis she has confirmed that she will not be able to stand for the role of mayor this year.

As well as her day job, Anita and husband Keith are keen motor sport enthusiasts and are committed to volunteer work for around 15 weekends from mid-March to mid-November.
Anita said she was “hugely honoured” to have the opportunity to stand and to be asked to do so by others.

But she added: “I have always said that (as Dad said before me) I would only consider being mayor if I was in a position to carry out the role properly and as Lyme deserves.

“The town needs a good mayor and the town needs a mayor who can attend as many events as possible and who can represent Lyme both within and outside the town. It’s nice to have the deputy but it’s really the mayor’s chain that everyone wants and I do not want to be the mayor who did not attend anything.”

Anita went on to say that she would love to be mayor while her father was still around to see her, but added: “It is more important that Lyme has a mayor with the time to devote to the job.”

I am positive that Anita would have made a great First Citizen and no one would be more proud than Stan.

Although always a controversial character, often caused by his dogged insistence that Lyme should always come first, Stan was a very industrious mayor, rarely missing a local event and often with Anita by his side.

I was really impressed with how Anita and husband Keith supported the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Lyme last July and she was also a member of the plucky town council team that took part recently in the Great Christmas Pudding Race.

I am sure that her time will come – providing the mayoralty survives.

So who’s the smart money going on to succeed Sally Holman?  I’m not a betting man, but a friend of mine who likes a flutter or two has come up with the following odds:

Rikey Austin 5-1
Chris Clipson 8-1
Lucy Campbell 20-1

A good outside bet would be on Sally being given a third term.

But you know what they say? A fool and his money are easily parted!

A potent tool for marketing Lyme

IT WAS interesting to note from last week’s Tourism and Economic Development meeting that the Lyme Regis tourism website attracted nearly a quarter of a million visitors in 2012.

At the same time the committee has commissioned  a re-designed holiday guide, with 30,000 copies having been printed, and the decision was taken to refresh the website - - to reflect the new-look brochure.

All but 5,000 of the holiday guides are sent out to prospective visitors to Lyme and the website is now playing an equally crucial role in the marketing of our town.

I have no doubt that there will come a time, perhaps not for a few years yet, when the website will outstrip the brochure in attracting holidaymakers to Lyme.

But for the time being, the town council is right to run the two side-by-side and it makes eminent sense that from a design point of view they should complement one another.

Since taking over the running of the website, consultant Bob Brooker has done a brilliant job in delivering a very potent and effective marketing tool for Lyme Regis.

The town’s tourism operation also has a good following on the social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter, essential in this day and age to reach the widest possible audience in the increasingly competitive drive to attract more customers for Lyme. 

A fitting farewell for Barbara

AS expected, the funeral service for six-times mayor of Lyme Regis, Barbara Austin MBE, was one of the biggest seen in recent times at the parish church with an estimated 400 plus attending.

It was an emotional and fitting send-off for one of the town’s most respected and admired citizens, followed by a celebration of her life by family and friends down at The Pilot Boat which went on well into the evening.

As a friend of the family and having worked with Barbara on many projects in recent times, along with the Mayor, Sally Holman, I was given the honour of paying a tribute to Barbara’s work for Lyme as well as reading a statement from the family.

I have done a number of eulogies for some of the town’s leading citizens over the years but this was by far the most difficult. 

I just hope I did Barbara justice

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


MANAGER of Nisa Charmouth Stores, Phil Tritton, is originally from a village near Rochester, in Kent. He moved several times, mainly around the South East, before coming to Lyme Regis in 2004 with hopes of finding a local business to run. Phil and wife Carol found the village shop in February 2005 and have been running it since, now with the help of son Alex and soon-to-be daughter-in-law Maria. Phil and Carol moved to Bridport just over a year ago but Phil is still an active member of the Charmouth Traders group. They are currently celebrating the arrival of their first grandson, Harry, who was born on December 30th. 

HOW did you come to manage Charmouth Stores?
When I took early retirement in 2003 I looked for a shop and took over Charmouth Stores in February 2005. Just over a year ago my son Alex and his fiancee Maria took over day-to-day running of Charmouth Stores. I’m still heavily involved in the shop, managing the finances and store development, as well as covering for Alex and Maria when they go on holiday, so I am often in Charmouth.

WHAT do you enjoy about running the village shop?
The people. Charmouth is a traditional village and we see many of our customers every day. We also employ several youngsters and seeing them develop from shy 14-year-olds to confident teenagers gives me a lot of pleasure.

WHY do you think it is important for people to shop local?
Charmouth village centre is the village hub where residents meet each other and, for some, it is an essential part of their lives – their daily visit to the shops may provide their only regular human contact. Take away the shops and pubs and Charmouth would be a shadow of what it is today – use them or lose them!

HOW does the Charmouth Traders group benefit the village?
The traders organise local events and work to improve the village. We currently run three events a year and since we were formed three years ago we have paid for the Christmas lights (in the centre and on the lamp posts), set up the free parking scheme, contributed to the Parish Plan, donated surpluses to local causes and set up the village website  - - which attracted over 100,000 visitors in 2012.

DOES the traders group have any events planned for 2013?
We hope to run three events in 2013 – bonfire night, the Charmouth Christmas Fayre and a New Year’s Eve event.

WHAT are your personal interests?
I enjoy playing golf badly, watching Arsenal and going to horse racing and cricket matches. Add visits to pubs and restaurants and I keep pretty busy!

WHAT do you enjoy about living in the area?
The nearness to the sea, the amazing local landscape and the lack of traffic, compared with south east England, where I have spent most of my life.

WHAT would you add to or change about the area if you could?
I do not like the increasing number of second homes that are rarely occupied. If this trend continues and new homes are not built, Charmouth could become a ghost village as shops and pubs will close due lack of customers in the winter. 

WHAT’S your New Year's resolution?
To be a good grandfather. My first grandson, Harry, was born on December 30th.

WHERE’S your ideal holiday destination and why?
We had a fantastic holiday in Turkey in October, which was ideal in that we enjoyed warm sunshine, good food, lots of historical sights and an interesting mix of cultures. Every year we also find time to visit parts of Britain as we really enjoy the incredible variety of places and scenery that Britain has to offer. 

WHAT would you do if you won the Lottery?
Three priorities – family, travel and security. Helping family members, travelling to parts of the world that I have yet to visit and providing for a comfortable retirement would be perfect.

Up there with the best

WITH the passing of Barbara Austin MBE, six-times mayor of this parish and fundraiser extraordinaire, it is understandable that people will ask who will take over her many and varied roles that played such a key role in the community life of our town.

In last week’s column I said we will never see the likes of Barbara again. 

Certainly, I don’t think anyone will beat her record of serving as the town’s First Citizen for six years.

Normally the mayor serves for a two-year term, and some get a second bite of the cherry, as has our current mayor, Sally Holman. But a third term? I can’t see it happening  and there are many in the town who are concerned whether the mayoralty will survive in years to come.

Having covered the affairs of Lyme Regis council on and off for more than 40 years, I am often asked who was the best mayor during that time.

That’s a very difficult question to answer and the only definitive answer I can make is that it certainly wasn’t me!

There are two strands to the job of mayor - one is attending all the town events and carrying out the civic and ceremonial duties; the other is to act as chairman of the council.

The former is always enjoyable, the latter is much more difficult, and there are those who currently sit in the council chamber who think the job should be split, as happens at Bridport, with a leader of the council chairing the meetings and acting as the main spokesperson on policy matters and the mayor acting as the public face of the council.

In these matters I am very much a traditionalist and I have gone on record in this column on a number of occasions saying that I do not subscribe to the latter view because I fear it will lead to the politicisation of the council. But alas, I think it may well be on the way, probably during the lifespan of the next council.

Most mayors bring their own perspective to the job and I think Lyme has been well served by its First Citizens down the years.

No matter who wears the chains, the town always shows great respect to the office and I have many happy memories of my own single term in office in 1984 when I was just 36.

As I say, the job of mayor is extremely enjoyable but chairing the meetings can be very stressful. When I was in office Stan Williams was at his peak. Say no more!

Being the youngest mayor ever has its drawbacks, however. Whenever I go into the Guildhall and see my name on the roll of honour, I am always drawn to the fact that every mayor before me is dead!

However, I am proud that my name is on that board in some exalted company and one day I hope I will be able to take my grandchildren into the Guildhall and show them.

There is no doubt that Barbara definitely enjoyed her years as mayor but it was extremely brave of her to take on the role. She was mayor elect when her husband Norman died and many thought she would withdraw.

But with her great friend Sheila Applebee by her side as mayoress, she went on to serve for five more years (in two terms).

And of all the post-war mayors, there is no doubt in my mind that Barbara was up there among the best.

Still plenty to look forward to in 2013

EVENTS tourism is key to survival for any small resort these days with more people spending their holidays in this country, the so-called “staycation” factor. Horrible phrase!

Last year was an extra special one for Lyme with the visit by HMS Edinburgh, the cruise ship Silver Explorer, the Olympic Torch relay and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, not to mention the Fossil Festival, Lyme Lympics, Lifeboat Week, the Regatta and Carnival an the ArtsFest.

It will be difficult to match such a hectic programme this year but I am pleased to hear that plans are afoot for a number of new events in the coming months, including crab and mackerel festivals, a major food festival hosted by top chef Mark Hix and a walking festival.

There has been some doubt about the future of the Jazz Festival but I understand that the event will go ahead with more involvement from the Marine Theatre.

And the town council is already in discussions about celebrating the 70th anniversary of D-Day in 2014.

I MISSED the Lyme Lunge on New Year’s Day, having accepted an invitation to go and watch Yeovil Town play. 

But Francesca was there as always, capturing the scene for the View from Lyme Regis, and tells me that it was by far the most successful New Year’s Day swim, raising a fantastic £2,700 - more than double last year’s total - for ShelterBox and the RNLI.

When the event started a few years ago there was only around a dozen braves souls who took part, but since the Rotary Club of Lyme took over the organising it has gone from strength to strength. 

Lyme was teeming with visitors on New Year’s Day with the duck race in aid of the Christmas Lights Fund also attracting a big audience. 

The crowd on the seafront watching the Lyme Lunge was estimated at 1,500 and dozens donned fancy dress to dash into the sea in the cause of charity.

It always amazes me how many visitors support these events and join in the spirit of such occasions. 

The Lyme Lunge is now well established as one of the town’s iconic events over the festive season and the Rotary Club did their usual superb job in making sure the event ran smoothly and safely.

IN the cause of accuracy can we just clarify that the chalet on Monmouth Beach was not left “teetering” or “dangling” over the cliff after the recent land movement in the area. 

Worrying as it must have been for the owner, the chalet was in fact dislodged from its pillar foundations and left at a 30 degree angle and was the only construction affected by the mudslide, one of many in recent years,  that happened after the recent heavy rains.

Listening to television reports one might well have thought that the whole of Lyme Regis was about to tumble into the sea.