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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’