So here it is, my final Mayor’s Column! I’d like to start off by saying how much I’ve appreciated all of your comments out in the wild about how you’ve enjoyed these ramblings over the last year. They aren’t always easy for me to sit down and concentrate on, I’ve had my head out the window at 5am, sucking in the cold morning air trying to stay awake, furiously tapping these into my iPhone more than once I have to admit.
I’m a classic case of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) so applying myself to a task like writing does not come naturally to me at all. Sometimes they have taken me an hour or two, often I’ve spent 4/5 hours on them and a 400-word minimum should never take that long! But once I get in the groove, 400 words often isn’t quite enough and the more I’ve written the easier they have become and I’ve found that with time to edit, delete, re-write I can often convey exactly what I’ve been feeling or wanting to say and with that in mind. I’ve come to respect and appreciate these columns as one of the most powerful tools in a Mayor’s arsenal to connect, inform, entertain and dare I say, strike a deeper or more emotional chord with the town when necessary.
I’ve attempted to bring myself to the page, more so than you might expect from a traditional Mayor’s Column. I’ve been cheeky, cynical, silly, fun and, at times, I’ve been vulnerable and raw. I’d like to thank Rachel and Beccy from FTC for their expert editing skills because I’ve often thrown things into the column, just to see if they’re brave enough to let it go to print and honestly a lot of the times they have been! But they know when to wrangle me back in if I go rogue.
As I’d spent a year as Deputy Mayor, under the wonderful and watchful eye of Mayor Anita Collier, when the time came to announce that I had taken on the chains I felt quite confident and ready to begin the journey. The reaction to my announcement was overwhelmingly positive to say the least. Social media didn’t stop blowing up for about 2 weeks after that. I knew I was in for a year like no other.
Because of my previous life drumming and touring with hardcore punk band SickOnes, I have received the moniker “The Punk Rock Mayor of Frome” from the press over the last year. The blend of punk rock, podcasting and politics seems to have given me a fairly unique “story” that independent, local, national and international media and press of various kinds seem to have gotten excited and enthusiastic about. I’ve enjoyed positive coverage from The Sun, The Daily Mirror, Kerrang! magazine and more with appearances in articles about Frome from some heavyweights like The New York Times also. We cannot of course forget about our very own Frome times, Frome Standard and Frome Nub News who have been so accommodating and generous with their coverage of my adventures. THANK YOU.
It’s been an amazing journey. I’ve grown, evolved and matured a great deal in this last year I believe. I’ve had to dig deep at times and reflect in order to properly step up to certain responsibilities or expectations.
There have been elements of leadership that come with this role and there’s no handbook for that. This requires an honest dialogue with yourself, to accept criticism and be willing to meditate on it, learn and do better the next time around.
It also means you have to balance holding yourself to a standard and also being kind enough to yourself to remember that it’s a learning experience and something we all must grow into and that you won’t get it right or please everyone all of the time. Thankfully, this year has seen overwhelming positivity and support, there hasn’t been much negativity to speak of but I’m thankful for the balance and pause for thought any of that will have brought.
The intricate, complex and constant dance of weaving a figurehead role where you embody more than you are with your sense of self and personal identity is an experience like no other.
It’s been a great, life changing honour to have been your Mayor. I’ve learnt so much about Frome and all the amazing cogs in this machine, all the people and communities that keep us together and moving forward.
I’d like to thank Cllr Anita Collier for encouraging me to take on the role of Deputy Mayor and for being such a great mentor during that time and now as she continues to be. I want to thank all of my fellow councillors for believing in me and unanimously appointing me into the role, I hope I’ve done you all proud and that you’ve had every confidence along the way that I’ve been representing you all as a council and a set of diverse individuals. A huge thanks to all the FTC staff who have been so supportive, encouraging and accommodating to me over the last year. Thank you to Paul Wynne, FTC’s Town Clerk, for always being a steady guiding hand to my left when I’ve been chairing meetings.
I’d like to shine a light (that never goes out) on Cllr Sara Butler for being my ‘wing woman’ and a fantastic Deputy Mayor. I’ve enjoyed her firecracker energy, punk rock spirit, focus and gritty determination this year. Often joining me for public speaking roles (she’s much better at this than I am) attending illustrious events in my absence and just being fun to hang out with when we’re on tour. Sara brought a unique balance to the force and I’m forever grateful.
Behind the scenes my wonderful assistant Laura Flaherty has been so amazing at reminding me of event dates and times, texting me people names I’d forgotten, calling me to organise my diary, co-ordinating the Mayor’s Grants and filling all my spare time up with invites and requests. Laura has been really integral to keeping me on track and on time (sometimes) and so much more, I could write a whole column about it.
I’d like to send all my love and appreciation to every group, club, organisation and individual who have invited me to come and spend time with them, to learn about the work they do or the projects they run. Too numerous to name for fear of missing people out. It’s been a privilege and a deep education to experience your roles and responsibilities within the community. There are many that I did not have enough time to visit and hang out with and I hope you will all forgive me for that. I’m going to be on the town council for the next 5 years, so if any of you would still like me to swing by then please don’t hesitate to reach out and I’ll do my best!
I’d like to wish whoever is going to be Mayor next the best of luck and I’d be honoured to guide and advise them however I can in a supportive role.
Thank you, Frome, it’s been a profound journey.
Cover image by Chris Bailey