Axbridge Civic Service

Sunday 25th February 2018

The sun shone brightly, and the church bells rang out, on Sunday afternoon as the community of Axbridge celebrated it’s 8th Civic Service in St John The Baptist Church and presented awards to three very special residents.

Town Crier, Nigel Scott announced the Mayoral Party which included the Deputy Lieutenant, Brigadier Tom Lang and his wife Amanda and the Mayor, Pauline Ham. John Hawkins, Sergeant at Mace, led the party, supported by Peter Yusen, Town Bailiff.  The Party entered the church to a rousing fanfare from the Cheddar Valley Brass Ensemble.

The service was attended by many visiting Mayors, Chairmen, members of local councils and James Heappey MP. The remainder of the church was full of residents of Axbridge, members of local groups and organisations together with friends and family of the award recipients. The church provided a stunning setting, with a lovely flower display arranged by church warden Judith Strange.

Reverend Tim Hawkings welcomed all to the service, which had a nautical theme, given the achievements of the award winners.  The Brass Ensemble of the Cheddar Valley Music Club, guided by Ann Higgs, gave an outstanding performance of Hallelujah Drive and Steppin’ Out by Chris Hazell. Cheddar Valley Voices were delightful in their rendition of Wonderful World (Weiss & Thiele) and We’re All Made of Stars (Barlow & Kennedy). Abigail Campbell captured the audience with her violin solo of Allegro (GF Handel) and Somewhere over The Rainbow, from the Wizard of Oz.

The chosen hymns complimented the service, as did the poem “Sea Fever” (John Masefield) read by Pauline Ham, Mayor of Axbridge and the reading from Mark’s Gospel (Chapter 4, verses 35-41) read by Councillor Taylor.

The highlight of the service was the presentation of the awards by the Deputy Lieutenant, celebrating the community of Axbridge as a whole and the outstanding contributions made by the award recipients. The Mayor introduced the awards and Francis Rabbitts, Bob Wainwright and Peter Downing read the individual citations.

The Civic Award was presented to Barry Hamblin for his outstanding contribution to the community, particularly the time, effort, enthusiasm and sheer hard work he had put into establishing and managing the Axbridge and Cheddar Valley Sea Cadets TS Goathland Unit. His full and varied contribution to Axbridge, from actor in Axbridge Community Theatre, a founding member of the Chamber of Commerce to Mayor of Axbridge (twice) is difficult to summarise, but the establishment and development of the Sea Cadet unit within the Cheddar Valley will stand as a lasting legacy to the Town. He was honoured to receive his award, which followed nominations from the community, and this was one of the few occasions which had rendered him speechless!

The newly-introduced Young Person’s Awards were presented to Jamie Harris and Katherine Sousa both of which were a credit to themselves, their families and Axbridge. Jamie Harris felt privileged to receive his award which recognised his incredible sailing achievements, with many early successes leading to him becoming Cadet World Champion in Argentina.  He has since moved into the 2-man 420 dinghy, a feeder class for Olympic sailors and continues to perform at the highest level, travelling extensively around Europe in his continuing stellar sailing career. Jamie thanked all those who had supported him in the pursuit of his ambitions.

Katherine Sousa was honoured to receive her Young Person’s Award, in recognition of her contribution to youth and civic life.As one of the first cadets to join Axbridge & Cheddar Valley Sea Cadets, she remains an enthusiastic and hard-working member, leading by example and contributing greatly to the high team spirit. This commitment led her to be appointed as the first Mayor’s Cadet to the Mayor of Axbridge in 2014, a high profile civic role, and in 2017 she became Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet to the Lord Lieutenant of Somerset. She also finds time to be an Ambassador for Kings of Wessex School. Katherine thanked all those who had supported her in the roles over this time.

After the service, which finished with the National Anthem accompanied by the Brass Ensemble, guests and residents were invited to the Town Hall, where amazing cakes were on offer!  The guides from Cheddar and Axbridge worked tirelessly serving teas and coffees   under the direction of Beverley Davies and Liz Foster. The cakes had all been made by local residents and were a lovely way to conclude the afternoon.

Photographs of the whole occasion were taken by Tim Hind and Andy Corp and will shortly be available on the website http://www.axbridge-tc.gov.uk/

Vicky Brice, Town Clerk, Axbridge