Council News

The last diary by former Mayor, Cllr Celia Wride

Thursday 23 May, 2019


Monday was a surprisingly busy day!


10am found me in a comfy seat, with a cup of tea, learning from Terena Gill and Susan Bickle, of St. Margaret’s Hospice fundraising team, all about the fantastic work that the charity does locally. Its many volunteers, the oldest of whom is 96 years old, provide end-of-life care, but also alternative forms of therapy and support for carers’ needs. It takes a minimum of £26,000 per day to keep a hospice open; needless to say, fundraising is vital. Don’t forget to buy a season ticket online for the annual St. Margaret’s Hospice ‘Glorious Somerset Gardens’ event, in which fifty-four gardens, from school allotments to arboretums, orchards to nature reserves, are thrown open between April 28th and August 11th; some even come with cream teas, children’s trails, and book sales… I am sorry, Terena and Susan, that I wasn’t able to stay all morning – but thank you for inviting me, and opening my eyes to all that you do!


Later that morning, I met with The Lawrence Centre’s Maggie Charlesworth and John Carter and Alex Fowler, Lynne Alton, Ian, and Polly of St. John Ambulance to present them with some giant cheques… This year, by way of quizzes, grand Christmas draws, cygnet scavenger hunts, murder mystery afternoon teas, Saturday bucket-shakes, stone swan selling, and kind donations from Len Sweales, the Showmen’s Guild, Colin Price and Wells Carnival Club, we managed to raise a goodly sum for the two Mayor’s Charities: £7,572, or £3,786 each. I was very proud, as this was one aspect of being Mayor that really worried me. I am so grateful to everyone who helped – thank you all!

charity cheques



That same evening, Sarah and I attended the Little Theatre’s (first) production of Fiddler on the Roof. Wow! I couldn’t get my head around the fact that we were watching amateurs – the cast were superb, especially Dave Palmer, who played Tevye (and, yes, I got his name right this time!). I must confess that when this play rose to fame in the 60s, I could never get past my pathological dislike of Topol to appreciate the story. Tonight, I was rapt. I loved that the excellent musicians were visible throughout, the simple but effective costumes and props, and, finally, a thought-provoking slide-show of photographs showing not only the actual Russian, but modern-day Syrian refugees… Thank you so much to the front and back of house for a wonderful evening – not least for plying us with classic Jewish canapes (compliments to the chef!).


A little while ago, we received an invitation to attend the first of three Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace, hosted by the Queen to celebrate people who serve their local communities. We met members of the Armed Forces, Policemen, one bag-piper, Scout leaders, priests of every denomination, nurses, Scottish farming representatives, other Mayors…there were about 6,000 people (and almost as many fascinators). It was a beautifully sunny afternoon (Sarah has a beetroot-red neck to prove it) – the gardens, especially the lake, looked stunning. We queued to have an afternoon tea – most guests erred on the side of caution when they saw the small rectangular plate that would have to support their iced coffee, petits fours, and sandwiches on a long walk across uneven terrain, possibly in high heels, to reach a seat in the shade. Not I! Never again would I have the opportunity to sample such raspberry cream profiteroles and passion fruit tarts and triple-chocolate delicacies… I could go on.

Garden Party 

At 4pm Prince Charles, Princess Anne, and the Duchess of Cornwall appeared on the rear steps of the Palace, the bands played the national anthem (before moving on to an exciting range of tunes, ‘A Spoon Full of Sugar’, then I’m sure it was the Star Wars theme…), and the royal party began greeting people. This didn’t include us, I’m afraid – but we did catch a glimpse of them as they made their way to a private marquee a little later. We were so proud to wear our chains this last time – and at Buckingham Palace, of all places. A wonderful end to a wonderful year!


The Mayoral election took place at the Full Council Meeting on Thursday. I am thrilled to report that Cllr. John Osman was unanimously elected Wells’ 646th Mayor; his wife, Holly, has been appointed Mayoress. The very best of luck to both of you – enjoy it!


I know that we raised a glass (or three) together on Friday evening, but I just wanted to say thank you again to all of the Town Hall staff for helping us this year – you went above and beyond, and I am so grateful. Before I settle back into anonymity, my last act must be to thank my lovely daughter, Sarah. It is not well-known, but since 1984 I have suffered from S. L. E. (Lupus) and there were times, this year, when I would have found it very difficult without her support. She has been a wonderful Mayoress - an absolute credit to Steve and I.




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