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The name's Bettington ... Phill Bettington
6:50am Friday 20th September 2013 in News
FROM escorting the Queen around the "best of Ledbury" to being asked if he was James Bond, it was quite an eventful mayoral year for Phill Bettington.
However, he feared his mayoral term of 2012-13 might not happen at one point as it all came down to a casting vote at the town council meeting.
Here he tells all, in his own words: "Traditionally the Mayoral year begins in May and for me it was no exception. The process began during the evening of 9th May 2012 when the immediate past Mayor, Cllr Conway indicated that since he felt it was not possible to for me to give the expected time to do both jobs as Mayor and a County Councillor, as well as my personal employment, if l was nominated he would not vote for me. Whist understanding his concern, I was quick to reassure my fellow Councillor that, after checking the Town Council Offices timetables and diary, l could fulfil the commitments expected of me, moreover if I took up the esteemed position of Mayor of Ledbury, the Town and its community would not suffer prejudice or be jeopardised in any way. At 7-30pm l along with the Deputy Mayor were nominated, voting took place and with only 14 Councillors the vote came in at 7 each, meaning the outgoing Mayor had the casting vote. Given the earlier conversation, I felt that the vote would not go my way, but it did and l was delighted to have the honour of being sworn into office as Mayor of Ledbury.
What a start to my year! The first event was the magnificent spectacle of the Olympic torch relay which came to our Town, with crowds estimating 10,000 in number watching from one end of Town to the other and for me a personal thrill of being photographed holding the torch. In June we had the Jubilee weekend and despite the worst weather for weeks, it did not stop street parties taking place and I attended the jubilee party where I live, standing under the marquee, assisting with the cooking and BBQ. One organisation holding a party presented me with funds from their collection and the sum was given to my chosen charity for the year St Michaels Hospice. To conclude a very busy month, we had the Ghurkha Band who performed on the Recreation Ground and their display included marching, music and dancing which was highly professional and entertaining.
July saw the Diamond Jubilee celebrations at Herefords King George 5th playing fields where Ledbury was the first Market Town in one of many marquees, which Her Majesty would visit. Dressed in our finery, I was acutely aware that the Queen was approaching and I did as I had been taught to do, a courteous bow and shake of the royal hand, I then presented my wife Sue as “Mayoress”, who curtsied and shook hands. This was followed by The Queen graciously accepting a posy of flowers from my ten year old grandson Joshua, an unforgettable moment. I was given the privilege of accompanying Her Majesty through the “Best of Ledbury” stands and stalls that showcased Ledbury in all its excellence and diversity. On her departure, l presented The Queen with a gift of a miniature Market House, which had been specially commissioned and made by our local jeweller, Gaynans. I was rewarded with Queen Elizabeth’s beautiful smile before she was escorted into the next marquee. This moment has to be ranked amongst as one of the best in my life. Later in the month l hosted the traditional Church Civic Service and this was attended by 12 visiting dignitaries, and followed by an “old fashioned” tea party, which proved most popular.
Fund raising events in September saw the Charity launch gala evening, and on the heels of this event was the dignified Battle of Britain parade. A visit to Portsmouth was arranged to honour the crew of our Hunt Class ship, HMS Ledbury as they being deployed to the Arabian Gulf. We wished them god speed and a safe return.
Two ladies organised a fundraising “musical evening” for my charity and I never failed to be happily surprised at the generosity of Ledbury people. With the end of the month looming it was time to switch on the Christmas lights, brightening up the darkness with their sparkle. In December the Community Choir held a concert in the Market Theatre and later l went with them to the St Katherine’s nursing home for a carol sing-along to the residents/patients of the wards, a humbling and rewarding experience.
It was a calm start to the New Year, and then in February Sue and I hosted a themed Valentine’s Dinner at the Royal Oak Hotel in Town and this well attended event raised yet more funds for my preferred charity. A disappointing start to March when we saw the closure of the Youth Centre in Ledbury as this was seen as a huge loss to the Town for youth provision. Spirits were lifted in April when we returned to Portsmouth and greeted the new captain and crew of HMS Ledbury. Photographs were taken and a complete tour of the ship was followed by a delicious lunch. Prior to leaving, l was presented with a picture that a member of the crew had taken on our arrival of all of us grouped outside by the ship. I have presented this framed souvenir of our visit to the Townspeople and it is on the wall in the Market House along with other photograph and memorabilia of the Ship.
l bought myself a complete kilt outfit and had the opportunity to wear it at the Droitwich black tie dinner, the theme being “James Bond”. Asked if was l supposed to be Sean Connery, I explained that it was, in fact, the actor George Lazenby who had worn the kilt in the version “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. l have worn my outfit twice since once to Evesham’s Tartan dinner and the other to my own Historical Charity Ball at Hellen`s Mansion in Much Marcle, a fantastic night that raised over £2000.00 for the Hospice. It was with great delight to be invited, along with Cllr Keith Francis, to become Honorary Members of the Showman’s Guild for our services to the Towns October Fair.
Meeting in the Town Council offices are often the scene for lively debate, agreements and disagreements, controversial views, but most importantly, it is the seat of decision making which can affect the lives of people in Ledbury. We, the Councillors, are charged with the task of following the code of conduct and making every effort to serve our community to the best of our abilities.
My Wife and l both thoroughly enjoyed representing our Town of Ledbury at all the events, civic services and invitations which we accepted from the many Mayors and Chairmen of this County, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. Our sincere thanks and gratitude go to the numerous people who have given their time and assistance during the year. Our families, Office staff, organisations and all the financial support and donations we have received to support St Michaels Hospice. Would l do it again? Well, hell yes! If given the chance to represent our lovely Town of Ledbury.
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