The best little city in the world – says new Mayor of Bath

I’m proud to be taking on this office in ‘the best little city in the world’ – said the man who had just been elected the 789th Mayor of Bath in a colourful and historic ceremony held in Bath Abbey.

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The newly-robed Mayor of Bath, Cllr Paul Crossley.

Cllr Paul Crossley – former leader of B&NES and a councillor for Southdown ward – took on the job – at Saturday’s annual meeting of the Charter Trustees – held in front of the choir stalls and facing a church audience of dignitaries and members of the public who were here to witness the event.

His words came at the end of an acceptance speech and as he became the latest in a line of mayors that can be traced back to 1230.

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The new Mayor of Bath, Cllr Paul Crossley, and Deputy Mayor, Cllr June Player, leave the Abbey at the end of the ceremony.

Councillor June Player – who represents Westmoreland Ward – takes on the role of Deputy Mayor.

It was a bit of a surreal arrival at Bath Abbey for the procession of dignitaries who left the Guildhall to make the short journey down the High Street to the church’s gaping West Doors – now opened up to receive them.

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The inflated ‘Baobab’ trees outside Bath Abbey.

Just outside they had to manoeuvre around three towering inflatable ‘baobabs’ – an extraordinary and endangered species of tree that grows in the forests of Madagascar – and part of this year’s marvellous Forest of Imagination – laid out around and inside Bath Abbey.

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The civic procession passes under the ‘swarm of butterflies’ on its way along the nave of Bath Abbey.

Once inside, the procession continued down the nave and beneath a swarm of colourful paper butterflies – spanning 10 metres and suspended eight metres up in the air. Called iMigration – it’s a digital mono-printed paper hanging sculpture by Anthony Head and explores themes of migration, diversity and individuality.

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Looking down the nave of Bath Abbey at the congregation of dignitaries and Bath citizens here to witness ‘mayor making’.

Once seated the Trustees started their meeting where the main business was electing a new mayor.

I felt a little like a ‘fly on the wall’ at times where the actual ceremony of election and speeches by the incoming and outgoing mayors were the only bits that fully engaged the audience.

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Another look down the nave of Bath Abbey as the mayor making ceremony gets underway.

For me, someone should take on the role of ‘Master of Ceremonies’ – another role with a long history in Bath – just to engage the audience by explaining what is going to happen and the history behind it. This person could also have explained what was happening when old and new mayors left to change ‘uniforms’ in a side room.

Even using the organ for the arrival and departure would have helped but grateful thanks to the Abbey bellringers and Bath Spa University Choir, who sang as the Civic Procession filed into the church, and also during the interval, along with the Nadeshiko Japanese Choir.

However, one mustn’t forget we were taking part in a continuing part of the city’s heritage and creating another little bit of its history.

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The outgoing – Mayor Cllr William Sandry – arrives at Bath Abbey.

The speech of the day came from outgoing mayor Cllr William Sandry whose ‘theme’ for his year of office had been ‘Mental Wellbeing’ – something he said he had personal experience of – having experienced mental health issues – including depression – himself.

Pride was the word that came up time and time again in his address as he explored some of his year-long experiences in the ‘job’ and an extended round of applause was the thanks he got as he sat down.

Today is Sunday and everyone gets the day off to reflect on their futures. For Cllr Paul Crossley – the 789th Mayor of Bath – it’s going to be a busy year.

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Abbey Courtyard is currently occupied by Forest of Imagination.

Forest of the Imagination continues in and around Bath Abbey today (Sunday, June 5th) with a School’s Day on Monday. There will be a sale of the plants on display on Monday at 3pm.

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The large Plane tree in Abbey Green has been decorated with a paper menagerie of forest creatures while- from loudspeakers comes the authentic sounds of the Madagascan forests.

Find out more about the event via www.forestofimagination.com but to quote from the free brochure being handed out around the site : ‘Forest of Imagination 2016 features a number of installations and activities highlighting the relationship of Bath to the local and global environment.

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Some of the plants on display as part of the Forest of Imagination installation in Abbey Courtyard.

Our theme ‘Eyes of the Forest’ promotes new ways of feeling and thinking about our urban spaces and showcases the creative spirit of the city.’