8 Neston Nomads Presentations 25 June 2016

The weather was kinder this year than last for the presentation of medals and awards to Neston Nomads junior football teams.

Distributing the medals to footballers of both sexes from 4 year olds to late teens took over an hour, allowing for a sizeable break between teens and pre-teens. The club has 300 junior members in over twenty teams, including now two girls’ teams. There was a participation medal for each, and for each team trophies for best player and most improved player.

It was amazing to see that local businesses had yet again sponsored kits for each team – a welcome investment by socially aware businesses in our midst. And a big thank you from local residents ought to go as well to the adults who each manage one of the teams.

It was great this year also to be able to present the award for the best contribution to the Nomads to Club President, Frank Hesseltine who was one of the club founders in 1942. The club is even older than I am!

7 Neston Flower Society’s Magical Afternoon Tea 23 June 2016

A visit to June Lancelyn-Green’s Walled garden at Poulton Hall provided an admirable antidote to Referendumitis!

The weather was glorious for this society fund-raiser. It was “magical” in at least two respects. The obvious one was through “Fusion No-Sleeve Magician” Pete Turner who toured the tables with an amazing variety of tricks, sleight of hand and apparent complete magic.

But magic also was a walk through the garden, an eclectic mix of reality and fantasy, each turned corner offering the unexpected, from pirate ship to contemporary sculpture.

Chairman Irene Pugh welcomed everyone with a section of poetry celebrating the Queen’s life and reign, and in proposing a Loyal Toast, June Lancelyn-Green told us that the previous Monday she had had lunch with the Queen at Liverpool Town Hall.

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6 Queen’s (Official) 90th Birthday Celebrations 11th & 12th June

There were many different types of celebration throughout the country over the weekend, and this pattern was just as evident in Neston.

The Big Lunch in Neston suffered, as did the picnic in the Mall, from the rain, but unlike the one in London, here it was (or at least the major activities, if not the picnic) transferred indoors.

But on the Saturday morning before the rain held off for the event organised in the Market Square by Neston & District Churches Together.  This was a service to celebrate the Queen’s undoubted Christian Witness and her service to the country.  Clergy from Neston and Burton churches – Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, United Reformed and Christian Fellowship – led prayers, readings and prayers, and the NE Singers accompanied by guitars led hymns.

Perhaps it was the threat of rain, perhaps the relatively early start (10.00 am), but I had expected to see rather more people there.  However Air Training Corps and Scouts were in evidence and it was undoubtedly an uplifting experience.

Market Sq service

Photo by Rob Ward

On the Sunday the Parish Church added celebrations to their normal Sung Eucharist service.  We were invited along with newly appointed Deputy Lieutenant for Cheshire, Mark Mitchell and his wife to join the congregation.  During the service Mark recalled that his business had started in Neston – the petrol station (now just car sales) next to the Malt Shovel on Liverpool Road.

Sue and I were pleased to be invited back to the church for their Queen’s birthday party in the afternoon (again moved indoors because of the weather) with entertainment provided by Neston Strummers ukulele band.

5 Ladies Day 2 June 2016

It really was a privilege to be able to walk in the Ladies Day parade through the Town Centre.

Normally I, like most observers, would be watching from a “vantage point”, but straining to see through others’ heads what was happening.

But taking part really is something else.  You get the full scale of the event and realise just how many of the town’s population have turned out to watch.  Truly amazing.

The Lord Mayor of Chester, Angela Claydon, whose family comes from Neston was impressed although she had seen it before.  It was hot enough for the rest of us, but in her mayoral robes she was almost melting, and for the final part of the walk from the Cross to the Civic hall she managed to divest herself of its sheer weight.  Certainly an advantage for the Neston Town Mayor not to have such finery.

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Lord Mayor of Chester, Cllr Angela Claydon, and Leader of Cheshire West & Chester Council, Cllr Sam Dixon,  with Deputy Mayor Cllr ceri Lloyd behind, follow us down the High Street     Picture courtesy of Frank Wood

Making a first Ladies Day visit, and a first to Neston since becoming Leader of Cheshire West & Chester Council in May last year, was Cllr Sam Dixon.  She was absolutely astonished at the scale of the event and remarked how proud I must be being Town Mayor of a place like Neston.  She thought the town was “buzzing”. It was one of the most wonderful events she had participated in on all her years on the Council, she said.

Thanks to Martin Barker for making sure she got an invite.  Neston is now well and truly on the CWaC map.

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4 Civic Service & Reception, Frodsham 29 May 2016

Well this was a first.  Big civic service at the Parish Church, followed by civic reception and lunch!  Definitely a first for Frodsham, population c9000.

Lord Mayor of Chester, Charter Mayor of Ellesmere Port and Town Mayor of Neston were all invited to St Laurence’s church for the 10.00 am Holy Communion service by the newly elected Town Mayor Cllr Mallie Poulson.  During the service the mayor presented a stole to be worn on civic occasions by the chaplain he had appointed, Rev Kath Williamson.

blogSue Shipman, Cllr Mike Shipman (Town Mayor of Neston), Mrs Jean Johnson (Frodsham consort), Cllr Peter Rooney (Charter Mayor of Ellesmere Port) and consort, Cllr Mallie Poulson (Town Mayor of Frodsham), Cllr Angela Claydon (Lord Mayor of Chester) and her guest.

Following the service parishioners were invited for a buffet laid on at the pub opposite, while invited mayors were sent on to Frodsham Golf Club for what I had imagined would be a small light lunch.  Not a bit of it.  There were 90 guests including the chairs of parish councils as far apart as Brompton, Mickle Trafford and Saughall together with guests for many local groups Mallie was involved with.

And the lunch itself turned out to be a three-course meal with wines included.  All paid for by Mallie and his family.

They certainly do things differently (and stylishly) in Frodsham.  Mallie (dressed flamboyantly in tails and a top hat) is not the chairman of his town council – that’s someone else.  Dubious legality, that. And they’ve just given their longest serving town councillor the Freedom of Frodsham.  I didn’t know a Town Council could do that.  So I checked.  They can, having been given the power by the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 which amended the Local Government Act 1972.  You learn something new every day!

3 Chester Annual Civic Service 22 May 2016

Each year the new Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Mayor and Sheriff of Chester process in their robed finery from Chester Town Hall to the Cathedral for a service of Choral Evensong.  In their wake follow “civic dignitaries” not only from Cheshire West & Chester’s towns and parishes but also from towns and villages much wider afield, and all put in procession according to some unknown (to me) order of precedence which this year ranked Neston below Conwy and Beaumaris.

Afterwards a group photograph on the Town Hall steps (I never see a copy anywhere) followed by  tea and cakes – but the cakes couldn’t be touched until the Lord Mayor arrived divested of her heavy gown.  We were joined over tea by two sheriffs, the Sheriff of Chester Cllr Myles Hogg from Willaston (not exactly in Chester) and the High Sheriff of Cheshire Mrs K H Cowell OBE DL who lives in Wilmslow.  They did have two things in common, one possibly the consequence of the other.  They were both new to the jobs.  And neither seemed to be too sure what the jobs entailed.

2 Neston Rotary Club Charter Dinner 20 May 2016

The first official function of the Mayor’s year was the Club’s 51st Charter Dinner, this year at Foxes, Hinderton Hall with catering by Cheeky Chilli.  Excellent company, good food and an interesting guest speaker in Matt Morris, Manager of the Bolesworth Estate, Tattenhall and born, raised and educated in Neston.

But a personal highlight was meeting for the first time in 50 years an old school friend.  I wouldn’t have recognised him but for the fact that as President of another Wirral Rotary Club he was announced as he took his seat.  Small world.

1 Annual Council Meeting 17 May 2016

It always strikes me as odd that we have something called “the Annual Meeting of the Council”.  One can get the impression we meet only one a year.  Even “AGM” would be odd – all our meetings are general, and are open to the public.

But to this one.  Local government, even at parish and town council level, operates within a myriad of legal regulations or straightjackets.  The Council Chairman remains in office until his/her successor is elected, and if present must preside over meetings. So it was that I found myself in the embarrassing position of chairing the meeting and asking for nominations for Chairman.  Ceri Lloyd made some observations about my suitability and proposed that I be re-elected.  After being duly seconded I was then in the odd position of calling for further nominations.  There were none, so I declared myself elected.  Bizarre indeed.