Mayor’s Diary - Cllr Celia Wride


On the 19th May 2018, Celia was elected the 645th Mayor of the City of Wells, and at the Mayor-making Ceremony her daughter Sarah was appointed the Mayoress.

Celia has chosen to support two very worthy local charities this year: the St. John Ambulance, Wells and the Lawrence Centre, a day-care facility for the elderly. She is organising charity events throughout this year – and hopes to see as many members of the community there as possible!
In her acceptance speech, Celia promised to do her utmost to meet the responsibilities of so important a civic office and to take advantage of every opportunity this Mayoral year to promote this beautiful city, in which we are fortunate enough to live and work, and to which we welcome thousands of visitors each year.

The 645th Mayor of Wells’ Diary – issue 4

The next house I buy I want designed, from top to bottom, by the Sixth Form students of the Blue School - and the next bustier and mini-skirt I wear, by the same crew. Sarah and I were staggered by the imagination and talent on display at the school’s annual exhibition of GCSE and A-Level coursework in Art and Design and Technology. Lucy Phillips would be at home submitting her work to the Hilliard Society! The pride of teachers Gerald Eyers and Gareth Luxton and headteacher Mark Woodlock was palpable. Please, if you didn’t have the opportunity to visit this time around, make a note in your diary for 2019.

No sooner had we arrived than it was time for me to be off to discuss the two fifteenth-century reredos, or altarpieces, in St. Cuthbert’s Church with Church Warden, Antonia Gwynn, ecclesiastical historian Professor Julia Barrow, and parishioners. The sculptures, broken into over 420 fragments during the Reformation, were used as rubble to fill their original niches in each transept and plastered over – they were rediscovered by church renovators in 1848, catalogued and digitised in 2016, and today we chewed over their future. How should the church restore and exhibit these treasures?

Now, the formidable Jane Hill of Wells City Band fame has never, in all the time that I have known her, been lost for words - but she was completely bamboozled by her surprise 70th birthday party on Friday evening! Jane was lured to a local hostelry for a quick celebratory drink between band rehearsals while her daughter, Tanya Climso, supervised the quick-change of Seager Hall into a concert- and party venue! I know that Jane was very moved. Thank you, Tanya, for inviting us. Many happy returns, Jane!

Saturday was a busy day for Sarah and I. In the morning I shook my donation bucket outside of the Town Hall with the excellent Old Grey Dogs Jazz Band - the odd tune interrupted by the crooning of Maurice Day! Together, we managed to raise nearly £229 for the two local charities that I have chosen to support this year: St. John Ambulance and the Lawrence Centre. (I even got a pound from Darren Pearson, the Police Beat Manager!!!)

The afternoon found Sarah and I heading the procession of dignitaries and almost 200 children up the High Street and onto Cathedral Green for the ‘Somerset Schools’ Folk Dance Festival’. It has been many years since I did some country dancing, but, first, my foot was tapping away, and then, when we were all called upon to take to the ‘floor’, I took my chance! With the help of ten-year-old Ruby Chapman from Holy Trinity School, Yeovil, I tripped the light fantastic to the last tune of the day! The weather held off and I swung and whooped like no tomorrow! After we said our goodbyes, Len Sweales led the processors back to the Town Hall for a welcome cup of tea and a scone or three.

I have a lot of thank yous to say. To the dancers – who were all brilliant! - and everyone who made the festival such a success! To Marian Cooper, Wendy Payne, and Dawn and Dave Payne for helping us to prepare and serve the afternoon tea. To Bob Payne, who stepped in as my Mace Bearer and did a tremendous job, even if at one point he forgot that he wasn’t walking his dog, Moss, and shot off up Sadler Street. To Waitrose for the kind donation of some ‘luvverley’ clotted cream and the Cheeseyard Café for the scones. Don’t worry there was no waste – Sarah and I took those comestibles that weren’t eaten to Fletcher House on Father’s Day. And, finally, to Evie Potts-Jones the Deputy Mayor of Yeovil, who did a sterling job of not allowing anybody (including Sarah and myself) to leave the Town Hall without making a donation to the Mayor’s Charities.

Sunday saw Sarah and myself having a day all to ourselves – I think that we were both asleep on the settee by six o’clock. It’s all that country dancing – exhausting to watch, let alone join in!


PS. Does anyone have any old circa 1918 photographs of buildings in the centre of Wells or of WW1 servicemen connected to any shops or businesses in Wells? If so could you please get in touch with me – we are working on a Remembrance Day project! Many thanks.

The 645th Mayor of Wells’ Diary – issue 3

Now I never thought that I would be a Page 3 girl – those of a certain age will know to what I refer – but to be a Page 2 girl was marvellous! Nearly there! This week has been a quieter time; the late Kenneth Williams’ phrase, “small but perfectly formed”, comes to mind when describing my diary entry this week (but how perfect is entirely in your hands!).

I went to the Bishop’s Palace for a Volunteers Afternoon Tea on Monday afternoon. Did you know that over 200 volunteers work at the Bishop’s Palace alone? I was amazed! And such a diverse and interesting group of people - some who had lived in Wells for many years, others who had only just settled here. In fact, I was so engrossed in conversation that I didn’t manage to snaffle a single sandwich until I was leaving. Thank you, Emma Lefevre and Siobhan Goodwin, for including me and opening my eyes to the huge volunteer force that we have in Wells.

On Saturday morning, bright and early, Sarah and I opened the new Seasalt Cornwall shop in the High Street. The first customer would win an £100 voucher and cut the ribbon; when we reached the store, who did we meet but Siobhan, who, we were reliably informed, had proudly erected her ‘deck-chair’ outside at 7.15 a.m., heedless of stares, and now rose to claim her reward! Well done to her, I say – no gritted teeth here, at all. We were strong-armed – yes, strong-armed – into drinking apple juice and eating fudge and purchasing three dresses and a jacket immediately …unfortunately Len Sweales caught us in the act!

The next day we drove to Glastonbury to celebrate Denise Abbot’s elevation to the Mayoralty – and the town’s long history and, to borrow her word, “wackiness”. We paraded behind the Town Band with all the Brownies, Cubs, Scouts, Sea Cadets, Badgers, Police Cadets, and even the Fire and Rescue Services (unless there was an incident that we didn’t know about…) – the Parade Sergeant Major had lungs on him that would have made Len very proud. It was wonderful, but especially lovely to see the Police Cadets - I was one once in the very distant past, when I was just sixteen …and yes, we did have electricity then, and no, we didn’t wear crinolines and long dresses! I’m not that old! We were also able to really see Glastonbury High Street (and some very reasonably priced geraniums in one of the shops!). The following buffet was, as Denise promised, “real nosh”.

I hope that you all enjoy this beautiful weather! I will leave you with advice that we did not take this weekend, resulting in some interesting chain-shaped sunburns... remember to apply sun-screen!


The 645th Mayor of Wells’ Diary – issue 2

Last weekend, as the Two Ronnies would have said, I had “a packed programme”!!

Friday saw me early at the Town Hall handing out equipment for the weekend litter pick to old and new volunteers …and feeling a little like a teacher doling out homework. The last one was, as you know, at the end of March - we were all hopeful that people might have taken more care to throw their rubbish away in between then and now. Off the gallant band went in search of dog ends, crisp packets and other detritus! (I followed suit on Monday).

I then rushed home, put on a clean frock, adjusted my chain, and dashed back to the Town Hall just in time to attend the Hilliard Society of Miniaturists’ annual awards ceremony. Now, Sarah and I have been to Moscow (I’m not name-dropping - it was just on my bucket list to see in my lifetime) and visited the Kremlin and its Faberge eggs; they were very impressive, but the miniatures on display at this exhibition, painted by some of the most accomplished miniaturists in the world, were breath-taking. I even treated myself to one of the pictures – naughty but nice! Thank you to Caroline Jones, Rosalind Pierson and Maggy Pickard, who was so patient with us when we bombarded her with all our questions, for making us so welcome. My best wishes for the future also go to the President Joyce Rowsell, who that afternoon retired after many years’ service to the society.

The following day, we attended the Mayor-Making in Bath. I felt like a film star as we – and over twenty mayors and mayoresses (collective noun, anyone?!) from nearby towns –processed through the streets to Bath Abbey, so many onlookers were taking photographs! As they say, we British do this kind of thing rather well! The incoming Mayor, Patrick Anketell-Jones’ theme for his year chimed with me: to halt the damage we are doing to our wildlife in its tracks. He spoke passionately about the flocks of swifts no longer visiting Lansdown every year – eighty, then twenty-five, now only eight. The return procession, I will admit, did go slightly awry – as we all bundled up the back-stairs of the Guildhall two-by-two in error!

Now, I had hoped to wave my chequered flag with swagger, not unlike grand prix starters, when I started the Tortoise and Hare Run early on Sunday morning… Unfortunately, fear that I would do permanent injury to a passing pedestrian or put the pole-end through the Crown Hotel’s window compelled me to take more care when I sent the competitors off! (I must add that Len Sweales warmed up the audience brilliantly despite the bells!) I was warmly welcomed by Dick Makin and Chris Weeks; they kindly explained this event’s name, one race is for fast motorcycles (“the hares”), two for slower bikes (“the tortoises and snails”) and were rightly proud that the Wells Classic Motorcycle Club had so far raised £17,000 for the Air Ambulance by running this event annually for eight years.

The smell of the Castrol R sent me back to the days when Steve, my late husband, and I entered various classic trials on our ‘outfit’. There was no bigger petrol head; Steve left me with seven motor bikes of various ages and four cars when he died. I can remember coming home from work one day to find a Honda 360 engine in my best meat tray on the kitchen table; on another occasion I discovered my lovely flan dish completely cracked because someone had put it on a hot stove filled with chain lube (in which I made a point of baking all future quiches – and Steve always complained there was a slight taste!!!) So, I felt right at home with oil drips and bikes not starting straightaway – and a keen empathy with the competitors and their support crews. I sauntered around the motorcycles as if I had never been away. It was lovely to see so many enthusiasts! Especially Gareth Davies on his NSU Quickly, which was Steve’s first moped, and my Mayor’s Choice, a Royal Enfield combination… Such comfort for the passenger! In my sidecarring days all sides were open to all the elements! My poor feet!

Sarah, who stepped in to hand out the remaining litter-picker-uppers at the Town Hall in the morning to volunteers, was able to join me at the prizegiving later that afternoon. Congratulations to all the winners and though there was a little pressure at the prizegiving at the Wells Football Club from Chris to “pick a pink, pick a pink” raffle ticket - the predominate colour being orange – I think that the day ended as it had begun, marvellously!

I drove around the city that evening to see what rubbish had been left at the designated drop-off points and take photographs; though we had picked up a fair few bags of rubbish over the weekend, I am happy to report that there were not nearly so many as before! Maybe the message is catching on! It is moments like this when you know it has all been worth it! Thank you so much to all the wonderful volunteers who helped over this weekend – and to the several ladies and gentlemen (innocent bystanders) who offered their assistance next time around. If anyone else wants to come along too - you know where I am!


The 645th Mayor of Wells’ Diary – issue 1

I was nervous. This was my first time out in public as the new Mayor - a very heavy responsibility …and an even heavier chain! I tried to calm myself that memorable Tuesday evening as I waited outside of the Town Hall. The Market Place was warm and quiet; people were enjoying wine and antipasti outside of Ask, ladies were crossing the square - yoga mats under-arm - chatting happily.

All of a sudden, noise hit my ears …and a mass of yellow and brown poured onto the pavement by The Crown! The Third Wells Brownie Unit had landed! I said hello to everyone, we posed for photographers, who guaranteed that we would look beautiful, and off we went – in search of litter. We all had gloves, shared litter pickers, and soon the Moat Walk and the Recreation Ground were as clean as a whistle! The girls had time for a well-deserved play on the swings before returning to the Methodist Church Hall.

My thanks go to Brown Owl, Lucy Norton, Tawny Owl, Karen Faulkes, and Young Leaders Olivias 1 and 2 (Olivia Wharton and Olivia Gould), and all of the pack for a lovely evening – and being such good sports and doing their bit to keep Wells clean! A special thanks to Cheryl Norton for walking with me and putting the world to rights – Cheryl gave me to impetus to move forward with litter-picking in Wells when I first became a councillor. The Brownies are always looking for helpers – please volunteer! Don’t forget (as if you could) that I am also organising a second litter-pick from the 1st, when I will be at the Town Hall handing out equipment from 8.30 until 10.30am, until the 3rd June - contact me at if you would like to lend a hand.

The next day was equally exciting. Early in the morning I made a presentation on behalf of Wells City Council to the formidable Market Manager, Stuart Beeton. I was looking forward to doing battle with him in my efforts to reach the Town Hall in my car on market days, but selfishly he has decided to retire to spend more time with his grandchildren, holiday in Spain and laze about drinking fine Italian beer. (It will soon pall, Stuart – you can have too much of a good thing!) He received a card wishing him luck in the future signed by all the councillors and staff at the Town Hall and what appeared to be a year’s supply of his favourite ‘tipple’ Peroni Gold. He has served the City of Wells brilliantly for well over a decade and will be sorely missed.

On Sunday the weather held off, just, and I started the Fun Run - no, I wasn’t in it, I only started it! I had the use of a klaxon to sound at the start of each race, but it was a little temperamental in my hands. There I was, counting down from three, then pressing the button with increasing violence to absolutely no avail – the knowing 10-kilometre runners blithely running past anyway! But thankfully every competitor finished, there were no injuries – and the atmosphere was fantastic. I met so many new people – and friends who I had no idea were keen runners! I was particularly impressed and envious of the over 60s competitors. Hats off to all, the young and the not so young, who took part – and thank you to Julia Dukes for inviting me to exhaust myself watching all that activity.



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