Thursday 04 May
A busy day working to ensure a good turnout of supporters in the Town area. We organised for someone to be at the polling stations to ask for Electoral numbers. These are then entered in a way that ensured we do not knock on the doors of those that have voted already. The team sat with supporters of other candidates that were seeking election and the numbers are shares to ensure the data is correct.
When I returned home, I packed my suitcase, checking that I had everything required for the Coronation. I then made a final check to ensure my passport, ticket, and briefing pack were present.
Friday 05 May
Ben and I travelled to The Swallows in Sittingbourne, to attend the Election Count, arriving in time for the verification of votes. As these are counted face-up, we marked off on sheets, around a hundred or so each, to get an indication of how the vote went in each polling district.
The count took most of the working day and as results were declared for the KCC by election, and
Swale Borough seats, we anticipate the Town Council Count. Prior to each ward being called the Agents and Candidates are called to the side of the stage and those ballot papers which the Returning Officer is either rejecting, or has to make a decision on, are shown and their decision is told. The candidates and agents can challenge the decision. Once this process has concluded, the Returning Officer reveals the final count figures, and we all agree them.
I receive a message that the Folkestone and Hythe district has finished their count. The Baron of the Cinque Port of New Romney is to meet me at my home to take me to Woolwich, where we are meeting prior to the Coronation.
Finally, at around 6:20pm, Watling Ward for Faversham Town Council is called and Claire, Eddie, Ben, and I, are all elected to Faversham Town Council. As I prepare to leave the stage I collect the envelope with acceptance papers and briefing pack from Louise, the Town Clerk, then I return home briefly before I head to Woolwich.
I travel to Woolwich and book into the Premier Inn before going to Dial Arch for a meal, pint , and a double scotch, I then go to bed around 11pm (it is a very early start in the morning!)
Saturday 06 May
I get up and get dressed in the Morning suit by 04:30am. There is just time for a coffee. I meet some other guests outside; they are fascinated by the way I am dressed, and photos are taken by them as they are asking questions about the role of the Cinque Ports. We head off around 5:40am to the Speaker of the Cinque Ports office for breakfast.
It is quite a sight to see 14 Mayors all dressed for the occasion. I gave each of the Barons a small white tin with a Faversham Coronation Pin and Platinum Jubilee pins with the Coronation Logo and Baron of the Cinque Ports detailed on them.
We replicate a photo from the 1953 Coronation in the Office then head out to a coach to Albert Embankment. On the way we pass large numbers of Police, and other emergency services, outside Police Stations on route. When we disembark, we see a queue of guests on Lambeth Bridge and join in taking photos with the Palace of Westminster behind us.
We are directed to Victoria Tower Gardens, where there is a large marquee for the completion of security checks. Identity Documents are checked along with the ticket, then we progress through airport style detectors and finally the National Crime Agency use wands to check us over. We then move to the outside and the Barons of the Cinque Ports gather. Scouts and Guides are lining the route to Westminster Abbey to ensure no one gets lost and they are also taking photos for people on the way in. We get to the Statue of Richard I and ask a Scout to take some photos of the group, as Richard I is the first Monarch whose Coronation the Barons of the Cinque Ports can be proven to be at. The Barons of the Cinque Ports have been at every Coronation since his in 1189, except those of William IV and Queen Victoria.
As we approach the Abbey, I look at the Broadcasting Units, a BBC mobile control room, and what looks to be the old digital control unit for sound, and a satellite uplink truck are there. The Armed Police are lined up across the road and we wish them a peaceful day as we pass by.
The Barons walked round to the West Door with the bank of press photographers and TV continuity suites opposite. We entered the Abbey to be directed to our seats with a reminder that we should not take photos in the Abbey.
The Service Book is a fine publication with the music to be performed from 9am and the various processions. Interestingly we are not seated in a prominent position but we are provided with TV monitors to ensure we see everything. A number of celebrities stop to chat with us, The Baron of Folkestone has Lionel Ritchie sit on her lap, Ant and Dec stop to say hi and Jay Blades chats about his love of Kent filming in Maidstone. He even suggests the Barons Robes might be a good project for ‘The Repair Shop’!
The music in the Abbey is as one would expect fantastic with some of the best performers in the world taking part. Zadok the Priest gives me goosebumps, it is fantastic.
The time in the Abbey flies by and we file out into a sightly damp Westminster.
We walk back to Albert Embankment to get on the Coach which departs at 14:00hrs back to Woolwich. We say our goodbyes and head home. On our way home messages are dealt with quickly. I arrive Home at 16:15hrs and contact the Mayoress who is just leaving the final Coronation Street Party with Ben in Kingsmead, having been to two on the estate.
Sunday 07 May
I start off by going to the Swale Borough Council Civic Service with Ben, this gives me a chance to reflect on the events of the previous day and catch up on the political front with reflections on the election as we have not had chance to until now.
We return home and prepare for the big lunch in Faversham Recreation Ground.
At the recreation ground Gazebos from the Town council are erected and Coronation Badges are available for giving out. We meet the Deputy Mayor of Swale, Cllr Sarah Stephen and the Mayor’s Consort, Cllr Paul Stephen, and we Plant a Tree in commemoration of the Coronation. Faversham Mission Band play as many enjoy a picnic in the Rec. I add my contribution to the wicker stag that has been made by locals, a superb piece of public art.
Following the big lunch, we make our way to St. Mary of Charity for the Town’s Civic Service
Monday 08 May
The traditional Rotary Club Faversham Family Bike ride has a good entry, and we start off each group on their way from The Abbey School. I saw for the first time the 1st Faversham Scout Group’s horse box conversion café. Coffee and Bacon rolls are provided for the Town Sargent, Mayoress, and I, at a very reasonable price. The mobile unit was used at the Kent International Jamboree for the first time this year and is a popular addition to the bike ride.
Tuesday 09 May
Friday 12 May
A trip to Hazebrouck for the opening of an exhibition of fine 16th century prints at the museum. It was my first time in Hazebrouck. I am impressed with the town and will visit again. Unfortunately, due to a presidential visit, Valentin could not join us, but Mattieu stood in and showed us around. Hazebrouck is so like Faversham in many ways I can see why it is such a suitable twin town!
Saturday 13 May
It’s the KCC Coronation Ball at Betteshanger country Park and a chance to celebrate with others from across the county. I even had a win on the raffle a unique artwork by a young lady who used to work in a hairdresser in Faversham. At the event she was approached by Trustees of The Tate Modern in Margate to exhibit her works there. Faversham’s reputation as a centre for the arts is obviously being recognised.
Monday 15 May
I prepare for the next event, a talk on the treasures and Mayoralty of Faversham to the Faversham Arts Society. This was a good event giving me chance to test my knowledge and the reaction of those present to my presentation style. Past Mayor, Shiel Campbell, was in attendance. The event went well and the donation to the Mayor’s Charity is considerable, which is much appreciated, thank you.
In the evening we have the Annual Town Council Meeting and the Committees and Working groups as well as appointments to outside bodies for the year are decided. The meeting is adjourned for the Mayor Making to the 23rd May, as is tradition in Faversham.
Wednesday 18 May
I travel to Canterbury to Work in the office then straight to the Mayor Making Ceremony in New Romney. Unlike Faversham this is also the Annual Town Meeting so we see the Co-option of two councillors and a contested vote on who will be Mayor for the year.
Thursday 19 May
At 17:00 we have a Faversham Town Twinning Association meeting then into town in the evening to judge the window dressing competition for the Transport Festival.
Friday 20 May
Prior to going to Work I have a meeting about governance at The Abbey School with the Howard Academy Trust. Following this I head into the office.
Saturday 20 May
It’s the Transport Festival, I have no official duties today so can go and enjoy the event. I have said I will cover lunch breaks for Town council Staff who are stewarding the event. I make my way to town via Solomon’s Lane and then start my way down Preston Street around 10am. Many people stop to chat and express their pleasure that the Transport Festival continues. I finally reach Market Place around noon and go to the Stone Street Gate to relieve the Facilities Team whilst they take their break.
Sunday 21 May
Although it is Transport Festival, I have a meeting to attend of the Joint Standing committee of the Cinque Ports in Dover at 11am. I travel with the newly appointed Cinque Ports Champion Councillor Peter Cook, and the Town Sargent, to the meeting, I then return to Faversham so I can give out the prizes for Transport Festival.
The number of people in town is pleasing to see as Faversham comes alive for the Transport Festival. The range of superbly maintained vehicles on display and the distance some travel (the prize for the furthest was from Scotland!) always impress me. A special thank you must be made to our Town Council Staff for the work they put in to ensure this is a success. I even Saw Claire Windridge on the Sunday even though she has moved on from the Council’s employment checking that the event she had a large hand in organising was going well!
Tuesday 23 May
Mayor Making in the Alexander Centre is a Faversham tradition. Although a public event anyone can attend, many individual invitations are sent out to those representing organisations across the Town. I was pleased to present three people with the Freedom of the Town, in recognition of their service to Faversham. Alison Reynolds who has stepped down from the Council, led the Town Council through the Covid years and is a trustee of a number of charities and groups. Ted Wilcox has been a huge supporter of Faversham in bloom and trustee of charities, his quiet wise council particularly in relation to the community garden areas of town is always appreciated. Geoff Wade as well as serving the Town as a councillor has been a stalwart trustee of Faversham Pools as well as other charities.
The most worrying part of the Mayor Making for me is handling the Mayor’s Wand of Office, having been used since 1537, I would not want to be the one to catch it on a chair and break it!
The Mayor’s charities for the year are presented with cheques for £4000 each. I know that both Faversham District Scouts and Faversham Assistance Centre (FACE) will use those funds wisely.
I also announce the Mayor’s Charities for this year Faversham Pools and Faversham Umbrella, both do tremendous things for our town and in the case of the Pools, I hope it will emphasise that they are a charity and not funded as many are, through our Council Tax.
I reflect on the day and it still feels a bit surreal to once again be Mayor of this magnificent place.
Thursday 25 May
River trip to Allington Castle in support of the Mayor of Maidstone. This was supposed to have happened earlier in the year but was postponed due to river conditions. I have rarely visited Maidstone despite it being the County Town. The River Medway through the town is a bit of a hidden gem. The river tour is not something I had heard of before and I can advise it is a great day out. The trip takes you to Allington Castle the home of Sir Robert Worcester who provided tea and cake in the Great Hall. I was pleased to meet Sir Robert again as he attended the preview of the Faversham Charters and Magna Carta exhibition, I think some of my fellow Mayors were surprised (as was I) that he recognised me, it was nice to update him on how successful the Exhibition is now.
Saturday 27 May
To Oare Gunpowder Works. The Friends of Oare Gunpowder Works do an amazing job at keeping the Country Park and its historic buildings in good condition, keeping it open for everyone to visit. It features accessible routes through the woodland. The Friends deservedly, are the recipients of this year’s KALC award, and the KALC certificate was presented to them. I recall abseiling and climbing parts of it when I was a Scout!
Sunday 28 May
1st Faversham Scout Group AGM & Family Camp Visit at Otterden Place, a double pleasure to visit as Mayor and as a former Scout, and leader, for this group. I was pleased to see how popular Scouting still is and the way the young people engaged. One young Cub Scout asked some quite relevant questions on the accounts, I hope he grows up to be a trustee in the future!