MAYORING IN CHURCH
The Corporation has decided that this year’s ceremony on Easter Monday, 13th April, will be slightly adapted. This year the new Mayor, David Page, will be sworn at a very short Hundred in the Lower Court Hall, but the rest of the ceremony will be conducted in the Church. While maintaining the traditions associated with the actual swearing in, this decision will make the ceremony more accessible and inclusive. The Corporation was very conscious of the fact that the Upper Court Hall had limited capacity and access for many people was very difficult. This decision removes those constraints; it also means that, other than catering for dignitaries, visiting from outside of the Town, individual invitations will not be issued to this year’s ceremony, as everyone in the Town will be welcome to attend. It is still intended to hold a simple reception afterwards, to which all will be welcome to stay. The plan is to reinforce this information with a leaflet through doors later this month. This change is not a new idea; it has been in discussion for at least the last 15 years. No doubt lessons will be learned, but the Corporation was determined, while maintaining its traditions, to make its main event of the year available to a wider audience.
NEW FREEMEN AND HONORARY FREEMEN
At this ceremony, it is a pleasure to announce that Honorary Freemanship of the Town will be awarded to Peter Turner and Neil Clephane-Cameron. Peter is a true son of Winchelsea and has helped the Corporation enormously in recent years through his Chairmanship of Icklesham Parish Council. Neil has served the Corporation as Sergeant-at-Mace and latterly as Chamberlain throughout the last 25 years. Hopefully, he will go on for many more, but it seemed most appropriate to mark this silver jubilee. The Corporation is also delighted that four people have agreed to become Freemen of the Town, namely Jo Turner, Stephen King, Rosemarie Roberts and Deborah Upton. They bring skills that the Corporation really needs as it goes forward. We very much hope you will want to come and support them all at the Mayoring ceremony.
Just a short note to inform you that Cynthia has decided to stand down as Jurat from the end of March. She will be much missed at our meetings, as her input over many years has been highly significant. Her time as a Freeman and a Jurat, as Deputy Mayor and as our first female Mayor has been of great importance and her contribution has been outstanding throughout. This is also true of all she has done for the Town, particularly with respect to the Second Wednesday Society, Advent Windows, Open Gardens and a raft of other things where she has just helped so much to make things work. Of course, she is not going away and her talents will still be available for us to call upon.
PAT CUNNINGHAM (1948-2020)
It is with much sadness that the death of Pat Cunningham on 31st January is recorded. Many will know him through his long service with the Cinque Ports Confederation as Sergeant at Admiralty, where he was responsible for much ceremonial including the carriage of the Silver Oar. He was influential in the Speaker’s Day held here last October. Born in Folkestone, Pat joined the Junior Leaders’ Regiment Royal Artillery at the age of 15 and went on the serve with the Royal Artillery in Germany, Libya and Northern Ireland. Pat was a keen skier and represented his regiment in competition, as well as acting as an instructor. After two years running recruitment offices in Sussex, Pat left the army in 1988, with the rank of Staff Sergeant and he and his wife Clair settled in Dover, where he became Chairman of the Dover Branch of the Royal Artillery Association. He worked for English Heritage as a Custodian at Dover Castle, retiring as Head Custodian in 2010. He was appointed to the honorary position of Sergeant at Admiralty of the Cinque Ports, by the Lord Warden, in time for his installation ceremony in April 2005. Pat performed that role with great distinction and commitment until December 2019, despite a long battle with cancer in his latter years.
At the time of going to press, it looked as though it may be desirable to undertake some repointing of the west front of the Court Hall, in order to overcome the dampness in the Museum. This will involve obtaining the necessary permissions, but if this is the course that is chosen, the work could be done in the spring. This means that redecoration in the Museum itself will have to wait until the autumn. On a brighter note, the renovation of the Town Sign is almost complete and it should be back in position by the end of March. Some minor works have also been undertaken to improve the accessibility of the Court Hall toilet and we are grateful to Rob Mortimer for his help with that.
John Rodley, Mayor of Winchelsea