On Thursday 19th May 2016 I was elected to be the Mayor of Darlington, with my wife Councillor Doris Jones B.E.M as my Mayoress. This 'blog' is intended as a journal of the engagements carried out by the Mayor and Mayoress with occasional comments.
During his time in office, Brian will carry out approximately 350 civic engagements - in effect, dedicating a year of his life to the Mayoralty. This leaflet [pdf document] outlines the role of the Mayor; his main aims; the charities, organisations and people he is supporting; and how your help and support can make a really huge difference.
Saturday 21st May
- Our first official engagement following the Mayor making ceremony was at the 125th anniversary celebration of Darlington Harriers. It felt a bit strange at first but we were made very welcome and met a gentleman who had completed 125 marathons over the years and had actually completed the equivalent of a marathon around the track before we got there!
Sunday 22nd May
- We visited the Vintage vehicle rally at the Head of Steam museum where I had the unenviable task of choosing the winning vehicles in several categories, with more than 100 entrants.
- Darlington Samaritans is one of my charities and we were delighted to visit a plant sale and afternoon tea to support their fund raising efforts.
Week Commencing Monday 23rd May
Monday 23rd May
- Attended four schools; Carmel College, Hummersknott Academy, Beaumont Hill School and Corporation Road School in connection with food parcels raised by pupils for new residents to the town.
- During the evening, we attended Richmond Mayor Making & Annual Council at Richmond Town Hall.
Tuesday 24th May
- Attended Hartlepool Maritime Experience to the Launch of Youth Employment Initiative
- Attended the Launch of two New fire Appliances at Darlington Fire and Rescue Station Park Place.
Thursday 26th May
- Attended Darlington Cricket Club. South Terrace, for the launch of a real ale festival. It's a hard life being the Mayor!
Saturday 29th May
- Opened Sky Live Show at Durham Tees Valley Airport. Good to see the airshow back, and very well attended.
Sunday 30th May
- Attended the Richmond Meet. Richmond Town Hall, St Mary’s Church & Friary Gardens Richmond.
Week Commencing Monday 30th May
Saturday 4th June
- Attended the St George Memorial association Mynarski Remembrance Service. The St George Hotel MSG
- Attended the evening MSG Memorial Association RCAF / RAF Dinner, St George Hotel Durham Tees Valley Airport.
Week Commencing Monday 6th June2016
Wednesday 8th June
- Attended the Launch of the St Teresa Hospice, New 10 bed Unit Woodlands Road.
Thursday 9th June
- Attended a Photo Opportunity – Mayor’s Send off – Rotary Bike Ride 2016 Town Hall Forecourt. Great to see my fellow Rotarians on their travels.
Friday 10th June 2016
- Attended Heathfield School Wellbeing Week. The Broadway.
- Attended West Park Academy Celebration the Queens’s 90th Birthday, West Park Academy, Alderman Leach drive.
Saturday 11th June 2016
- Attended Firthmoor Live Event, Firthmoor Community Centre, Burnside Road
Sunday 12th June
- Attended Blessing & Dedication Service - Holy Trinity Church, Woodlands Road followed by a Celebration Service for the Queen’s 90th Birthday -Durham Cathedral.
Week Commencing 13th June 2016
- Spennymoor Mayoress at Home Event. – Spennymoor Town Hall
- Sir E.D. Walker Homes Trustees Afternoon Tea. - E D Walker Homes, Coniscliffe Road.
- Vice Chancellor of Durham University Summer Garden Party – Hollingside House Hollingside Lane, Durham.
Thursday 16th June
- Bishop Auckland Meet the Mayor – Fifteas Vintage Tea Room, Market Place, Bishop Auckland.
Friday 17th June
- National Care Home Open Day – Middleton Hall, Middleton St George. The event where I came face to face with a scarecrow model of myself.I absolutely loved it and of course it had to be the winner!!
- St Teresa’s Midnight Walk – South Park. Former Mayoress Gill Nutt in the background enjoying the walk.
Saturday 18th May
- Grand Opening Weekend of new business – SNAP fitness – Yarm Road.
- Welcome Aboard – Handover of the Maritime Experience to National Museum of the Royal Navy. – Maritime Museum, Hartlepool
Week Commencing Monday 20th June 2016
Monday 20th June
- We attended the Raising of the Flag for the Armed Forces Day - Town Hall & the Market Square.
- Mayor Met the Halle Orchestra at Hummersknott Academy School - Edinburgh Drive.
Tuesday 21st June
- We visited Café JJ at Clifton Road. A wonderful experience, not only to taste the delicious food (at reasonable prices) but also to see the great work being done by Val and her team).
- Attended the VIBE Awards – Dolphin Centre. Another great event, being able to sit back and enjoy the celebration of young people’s achievements.
Wednesday 22nd June
- We attended Mayor of South Tyneside ‘At Home’ event – Registrar’s Office, Broughton Road, South Shields.
- We attended a Preview of the Vue Cinema Complex – Feethams Darlington.
Thursday 23rd June
- We attended the Halle Orchestra Concert – Dolphin Centre. Thanks to the Durham Music Service, not only for bringing this orchestra to Darlington, a special feat in itself, but also for arranging workshops for hundreds of children across the borough who are learning to play a variety of musical instruments. I’m sure they benefitted greatly from some professional tuition.
Friday 24th June
- We Attended The Lions Club annual Charity Concert – All Saints Church & Millennium Centre. A lovely evening of good music.
Saturday 25th June
- Attended Darlington Community Carnival – Market Place.
- Attended and Opened the Sadberge Community Festival – Sadberge village hall and village green. The festival gets better every year and was very well attended. Thanks to Damo from the Interceptors for my ride to the village green.
Sunday 26th June
- Attended the Open Day – Darlington Fire Station and Police Station , St Cuthbert’s Way. A very busy day for staff at both stations and a great deal of good PR work achieved.
- Attended Durham County Council Chairman’s Civic Service - Durham Cathedral,
Week commencing Monday 27th June 2016
Tuesday 28th June
- Attended Charity event hosted by students of Darlington & Dilston Collage – Harrowgate Hill social club. Clearly a lot of hard work had gone on to raise funds.
- Attended start-up Britain Bus Tour for entrepreneurs – High Row.
- We attended the 10th Anniversary St George’s Church of England Academy School Middleton St George. A really enjoyable event with pupils having a great time performing for guests and followed by the unveiling of a new tapestry.
Wednesday 29th June
- Attended Heighington Church of England Primary School 50th anniversary Celebration – Hopelands, Heighington. Yet more of the wonderful children of the borough showing their entertainment skills.
- Chaired the Special Meeting of the Council. – town hall. One of the longest council meetings in recent years, almost four hours, but we made it with lots of help from town hall staff.
Thursday 30th June
- We attended Stockton Armed Forces Day – Town Hall, High Street Stockton
- We attended County Durham Community Foundation Summer Drinks Reception. – Croxdale Hall Durham (Home of the High Sheriff). It was all going so well until a thunderstorm took over!
Saturday 2nd July
- We attended the Dance Festival – Market Place. A fun event showcasing the dancing skills of our children and young people.
- We attended the Summer Fun Day – Middleton Hall Retirement Village. Middleton St George. The theme of the Fun Day was 'Alice in Wonderland' with many taking their parts seriously. I am absolutely delighted that Middleton Hall Retirement Village are all working hard raising funds in support of my four charities.
Sunday 3rd July
- We attended Yarm 1914 ‘Remembering the Somme’. St Mary Magdalene Church, West St, Yarm & Yarm High Street.
Week Commencing 4th July 2016.
Monday 4th July
- We attended National Youth Jazz Orchestra & Big Band – Central Hall, Dolphin Centre. Fabulous talent playing some great music. Thanks again to the Durham Music Service for arranging this.
Friday 8th July
- Attended Beaumont Hill School 10yrs Celebration – education Village,
- Attended Preview of Art Exhibition – Head of Steam Museum
- Attended The Northern Military Band Association concert – The Princess Alexandra Auditorium, Yarm School. More great music from a wonderfully talented group of musicians.
Saturday 9th July
- Attended Samaritans Fund Raising Event – St Cuthbert’s Church, Market Place. With entertainment from Northern Voices. Beginning to realise now just how much rich talent we have locally.
Sunday 10th July
- Attended the High Sheriff – Matins for the Courts & Luncheon. Durham Cathedral & Durham Castle
Week Commencing Monday 11th July 2016
Monday 11th July
- Attended the Grand Opening Chinese Buffet – Feethams Leisure Complex. The Lion dance was brilliant and the food just as good.
Tuesday 12th July
- Visited Hummersknott Badminton Club prior to European Tour – Hummersknott Academy Edinburgh Drive Darlington.
Thursday 14th July
- Attended the Launch of School Anthem – Mount Pleasant School, Newton Lane. I could take some lessons in public speaking from the two comperes. And the singing was brilliant – such enthusiasm.
- Presented a VIBE Award ‘Against the Odds of Life’ to the winner Olivia Rowel, in the Mayor's Parlour. Olivia had been unable to attend the Vibe Awards evening due to a family holiday. In 2014 Olivia was diagnosed with a brain tumour and despite intrusive medication treatment, she has remained positive throughout and kept up with her school work. It was a real delight to meet Olivia and her family and to present her award. It was well deserved and I wish her the very best for the future.
Friday 15th July
- Attended Great Aycliffe Mayoress at Home – Council Offices. School Aycliffe.
Saturday 16th July
- Attended Stockton Mayoress At Home - Town Hall, High Street, Stockton.
- Attended Elim Church Fun Day – North Park. They certainly chose the right day for the weather. There was something for everyone and the place was packed.
- Attended 50 Signals Military Employers Engagement Dinner – Reservists Centre, Neasham Road. A thank you to those employees who give their staff time off to attend reserve duties.
Sunday 17th July
- Attended Installation of the Dean of Durham – Durham Cathedral.
- Attended and presented prizes to winners of The Quaker Bowl Competition – Eastbourne Bowling Green Sports Complex.
Week Commencing Monday 18th July 2016
Tuesday 19th July
- We visited Middleton Hall Retirement Village to say a big thank you to two ladies who work at the hall and who had carried out a parachute jump to raise money for my Mayoral charities. Carole Waistle and Angie Johnson said they found the experience amazing. They expect to raise more than £1,000. That’s amazing! Thank you ladies.
- Attended Teesside University awards ceremony – Campus, South Field Road, Middlesbrough. Great to see so many young (and some not so young) students receiving their degrees.
Thursday 21st July
- Attended Mayoress of Sunderland Funeral – St Paul’s Church, Ryhope.
- Attended and Chaired Full Council Meeting – Council Chamber Town Hall.
Saturday 23rd July
- Attended the Opening of the Pocket Park – Snipe Lane. Some great work carried out by Paul Harman and his gang. The remnants of an early sewage plant have been transformed into a wildlife haven for youngsters The work was carried by the volunteers of the Friends of Snipe Pond
- Attended Shildon Mayor – Tea in the Park & Flying Scotsman – Rest House, Hackworth Park, Shildon
Week Commencing Monday 25th July 2016
Tuesday 26th July 2016
- Attended the Presentation of Queens Award for Voluntary Services to Café JJ - The proud volunteers beamed when the Queen’s representative, Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon presented them with a prestigious and well deserved award on the Queen’s behalf. Café JJ is run by a team of disabled volunteers who work together to run the lively café where they cook and serve meals every Tuesday. – Clifton Road, Darlington. A truly enjoyable occasion when the recipients were clearly overwhelmed.
Thursday 28th July
- Opened the newly refurbished Lidl store – Yarm Road.
Saturday 30th July
- Attended Abbeyfield Care Home garden party. – Danby Lodge, Ashcroft Road. A gem of a place hidden away in a quiet cul-de–sac.
Week Commencing Monday 1st August.
Monday 1st August
- Attended Citizenship Ceremony – Pease suite, Dolphin Centre. My first but hopefully not my last. A really great occasion.
Tuesday 2nd August
- Celebrated my 70th birthday with a small family party at home.
Thursday 4th August
- Visited the 700 Club Get Together – Roadway House, Beaumont Street. One of my Mayoral charities and well worth supporting.
- Attended SIRF 2016 Stockton International Riverside Festival – Preston Park Hall & Museum, Yarm Road, Eaglescliffe.
Saturday 6th August.
- Attended Hartlepool Deputy Mayor and Mayoress Garden Party to help raise funds for the Mayor of Hartlepool Charity – Meadowsweet Road, Hartlepool. A lovely sunny afternoon and a well organised event hosted by Rob and Brenda.
Sunday 7th August
- Attended Family Fun Run to ‘Wave Off’ entrants and give out medals at Darlington fun run, 3km & 10km Races – Market Square.
Wednesday 10th August.
- This evening we paid a very interesting visit to the Darlington and District Talking Newspaper. This is an audio service for the blind, visually impaired or those who have difficulty reading a newspaper. This organisation has been in production for over 30 years and is constantly on the lookout for new clients. Recordings are distributed to between 200-250 listeners each week as CDs or MP3 memory sticks. If you know someone who could benefit from this voluntary service,further information is available via; 01325 465101, email@example.com or www.darlingtontalkingnewspaper.co.uk
Thursday 11th August
- Visited the GOLD Tea Dance in the market place which this year was a celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday. Joined by Jenny Chapman MP to cut a birthday cake and to sing ‘happy birthday’ and also by Elvis (see photo’s) AKA David Regan from Age UK.
- Met with representatives of my nominated charities which are; Darlington Breathe Easy group, Darlington Samaritans, Darlington 700 Club and St Teresa’s Hospice. A very productive meeting with representatives from the Banks Group discussing potential fundraising possibilities. Grateful thanks to Lewis Stokes and James Eaglesham from Banks for giving up their time to assist.
Saturday 13th August
- Poundstretcher has taken over the former B&Q building at Whessoe Road and we were asked to perform the opening. Although there were very few customers initially, they soon began to arrive to see how far their pound could be stretched
Sunday 14th August
- Although I’ve always preferred four wheels on my wagon, I was impressed by the array of two and three wheeled machines at the Knuckle Edz motor bike rally in the town centre today. Clearly a favourite rally with the bikers, it was very well attended and I was asked to present the prizes in the various categories.
Monday 15th August 2016
- Today we had the pleasure of the company of The Lord Leiutenant of County Durham Sue Snowden at the ‘Mayoress at Home’ event at Hartlepool Civic Centre. We were of course supporting the Mayor and Mayoress of Hartlepool, Rob and Brenda Cook, with their fundraising for Mayoral charities. A very pleasant afternoon spent in lovely company.
Saturday 20th August 2016
- This morning we joined several other members of the ‘Chain gang’ at a coffee morning organised by Elizabeth Bruce, the Chairman of Chilton Town Council. The game of cricket croquet on the bowling green was very popular and fortunately the heavy rain that was forecast stayed away.
Thursday 25th August
- This morning we joined Liz McAllister, Director of Darlington Samaritans at a coffee and cakes fundraiser. I can ill afford to put on any weight but couldn’t resist some of the lovely goodies on offer. A small entrance fee and the sale of raffle tickets raised more than £300 for this great charity, which incidentally is one of my nominated Mayoral charities this year. Thank you to all who attended and worked in support of Darlington Samaritans
Friday 26th August
- We joined Zoe Birkett this morning to open the ‘Mango Bean’ coffee shop in Feethams. Many will remember Zoe from her appearances in Pop Idol and Big Brother. Although she now lives in London, Zoe still comes back to Darlington on a regular basis to visit her mum. She is off to New York soon to try her luck with some work in the ‘big apple’ and we wish her every success. We also wish the Mango Bean success in their new venture, another new business in the town creating employment.
- After a quick change and the removal of the Mayoral chains, I joined my Mayoral Chaplain Reverend Sheilagh Williamson at the Clifton Centre where Sheilagh has been organising ‘laughter and lunch’ sessions for local residents. I was there to join with other local volunteers who were cooking and serving meals. I came into my own when it came to washing and drying dishes, although I wasn’t such a dab hand when it came to cutting out patterns of birds. Thank you Sheilagh and her band of volunteers and a special thank you to Lidl who have given financial support,
(All those featured in photographs including parents of young people have given their permission to be featured on this blog)
Sunday 28th August
- Today we had the great pleasure of presenting trophies to the winners of the Mally Turnbull football tournament in Middleton St George. Mally was a personal friend who we worked with as members of the Community Association. He was a lovely person who was respected by so many young people who he had coached at football. This is the third year the tournament has been organised since we lost Mally and a great deal of thanks is owed to our ward colleague Steve York and to Johan Moncur for their hard work in keeping it going, and to Paul Bielby for his support. Great to see so many of the young lads wanting to be part of this tournament.
- This evening we enjoyed the hospitality of Northumberland County Council on board the Class ‘A’ Tall Ship Christian Radich in Blyth Harbour as part of the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta. Following some torrential rain the night before which had washed out one of the car parks, we were fortunate enough to enjoy a pleasantly calm and warm evening in good company. Well done to Northumberland and Blyth Council
Week Commencing Monday 29 August 2016
Friday 2nd September
- Following a relatively quiet week in Mayoral terms, this morning we travelled to Sunderland Civic Centre to join the Mayor and other Civic dignitaries from across the north east to fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day which actually falls on 3rd September. The Red Ensign or ‘Red Duster’ as it is affectionately known, has been the recognised flag of the British Merchant Navy since 1854 and great efforts are being made to have the flag recognised and flown across the country on this day, and not only in recognised port cities. Darlington followed suit and the flag was flown on the roof of the town hall. We met and chatted to former paratrooper Ted Hold, pictured with the Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Alan Emerson and me
Week Commencing 5th September 2016
Monday 5th September
- This evening we presented awards to winners in the Darlington in Bloom competition at the town hall. I’m not a gardener and was hugely impressed by the photographs on display from the various categories. Clearly a huge amount of time and effort had been spent on the end result.
The categories and winners are as follows;
Best garden – Len Souter, Heron Drive, Darlington
Best yard – Diane Lambert, Farrer Street, Darlington
Best business – The Tawny Owl, Neasham Road, Darlington
Best community garden – William Maychell, Cocks Memorial Homes, Middleton St George
Best alternative garden – Kelvin Vincent, The Education Village, Darlington
The People’s Choice award – Martin Rowell, Neville Road, Darlington.
Congratulations to everyone involved!
Tuesday 6th September 2016
- Today we met members of the Darlington Breathe Easy Group at one of their regular meetings in the Copper Beech on Neasham Road. The group are supported by the British Lung Foundation and are looking for new members who could use support with their breathing difficulties. They were a very happy and cheerful group and new members are assured of a warm welcome. Further information is available from blf.org.uk/breatheeasy [external link]
- This evening we joined members of Darlington MIND for their AGM. We were very impressed at the wide variety of activities members are involved with and I was happy to present awards for a variety of achievements. Well done to everyone involved.
Wednesday 7th September 2016
- Something different this evening. We were guests of Group Captain David Bradshaw MA BSc RAF, Station Commander at RAF Leeming at an Officers’ Mess Reception and to view the capability and methods of operating of the RAF. This was a very interesting evening where we were able to talk to some very senior officers with a great deal of experience in keeping our country safe.
Friday 9th September.
- A very enjoyable evening listening to Ferryhill Town Band being conducted by my old friend Andrew Hall. The Mayor of Ferryhill had arranged a ‘Last Night of the Proms’ fundraising event and it was very,very good. The band were on good form and full marks to them all, but a special mention to the percussion section who were outstanding. The Mayor joined in the theme with a great looking Union Jack coat and there was plenty of flag waving and a lot of singing.
Sunday 11th September.
- A beautiful morning for a trip to Ripon to join the Mayor of Ripon and other civic dignitaries for a Service of Thanksgiving to Commemorate Victory in The Battle of Britain 1940. A short stroll from the town hall to the War Memorial where I laid a wreath on behalf of the Borough Council. There was a fly past by Hawks of 100 squadron – RAF Leeming. Everything was well organised by The Royal Air Force Association (Ripon & District Branch) well supported by RAF Leeming. There was also a fly past by a Spitfire from the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. It seemed as if the pilot was really enjoying himself as he actually flew past four times
- We then walked to the Cathedral where we had the great pleasure of meeting our old friend Reverend Canon John Dobson, Dean of Ripon. This was our first visit to the Cathedral and we found it to be very impressive. What was also impressive was meeting RAF Cadet Bradley Eglington from Darlington who has been selected as the Station Commanders Cadet at RAF Leeming. Bradley was accompanied by his proud granddad Alan Eglington. (See photo.).
Monday 12th September 2016
- Today we were the guests of Councillor Edward Bell who holds the posts of Chairman of Durham County Council and Mayor of the City of Durham. As far as a venue for afternoon tea goes, they don’t come any better than Durham Castle. We were in the Senate room and were entertained by pupils from the Durham School of Choristers. A really enjoyable afternoon.
- This evening I was fortunate enough to watch the Darlington Dance Festival in the Dolphin Centre. There were 18 dance groups performing and I was relived I wasn’t called upon to choose a winner. Some of the performers were unbelievably young and there were those who were more mature but who were certainly having fun.
The photograph below shows the Happy Tappers who were accompanied by Cockerton Prize Silver Band.
In the absence of the Civic Theatre due to refurbishment, it was commendable that the Dolphin Centre staff were able to stage the event in the sports hall with all the logistical challenges that go with involving so many performers, staging, sound and seating etc. So full marks to Marion Ogle and the staff at the Dolphin centre.
14th September 2016
- All Mayors try their best to raise funds for their chosen charities and other Mayors in the same area support each other. And so it was that we received an invitation from the Mayor of Barnard Castle, Councillor John Blissett to ‘play a round in Barney’. This turned out to be a friendly competition between the civic guests on the 9 hole pitch and putt course followed by a darts tournament in Barnard Castle Workingmens Club. Despite a bit of friendly ‘needle’ from some of those present, I managed to win the golf but didn’t do so well in the darts. A lighthearted and fun afternoon raised money for Councillor Blissett’s charities.
15th September 2016
- One of the joys of being Mayor is the opportunity to meet some wonderful young people from our Borough. This afternoon we were in Crown Street library presenting prizes to two such young people. Holly Raine and Alice McAdam.who had entered and won a competition in connection with books by Roald Dahl. Pictured below are Holly (the tall one) and Alice. Well done girls, it was a pleasure to meet you.
Friday 16th September
- Another fundraising event, this time for the Chairman of Northumberland County Council, held at Council HQ in Morpeth. This was a ceilidh with most of the civic guests, including me, not knowing which foot went where. Councillor Alan Sambrook was raising funds for the childrens’ unit at a Newcastle hospital