Mayoral blog


Saturday 1 June 2024

The Little Mermaid Junior by Blue Butterfly Dance – at The Rose Theatre

This was a very enjoyable evening being entertained by some very talented youngsters. They danced, sang and acted brilliantly. The quality of the performance had the audience in stitches at times, brilliant timing of some of the lines, and expressions should have taken hours to perfect. But they group only started learning the parts in January!

If you had a chance to see the performance you will know what I mean. My congratulations to everyone involved. The standard was incredible.

Can’t wait to see what they do next.

Mayor With Little Mermaid CastLittle Mermaid Mayors Blog


Sunday 26 May

Civic Service

The service of dedication was beautifully lead by the Mayor’s Chaplain, Reverend Hayley Richens at St Boniface Church, Chandlers Ford. The service was friendly and well attended, although the congregation were mainly women, there was a football match scheduled somewhere else that day. But those that were there welcomed the Mayoral party and filled the church with song and prayer.

After the service we had the pleasure of a reception with cake and bubbles and a chance to meet everyone present.

The Mayor hopes to be present at the service of appointment of the new vicar, and at All Souls service.

Civic Service 2 Credit Debbie Pearce PhotographyCivic Service 3 Credit Debbie Pearce Photography
(Photos courtesy of Debbie Pearce Photography)


Thursday 23 May 2024

Shakespeare Infant School Visit

2.00 pm saw us attend our first function as Mayor and Mayoress of Eastleigh. We were greeted by the Head Teacher, Nikki Wilson and the Inclusion Manager, Clare Mills. We were soon introduced to a student, Gregory, he had written to a previous Mayor after he heard someone say that Eastleigh was Boring, He proceeded to explain why wasn’t and recommended we try the popcorn available at the cinema.

Gregory soon became out host and after we appointed him Deputy Mayor for the visit, he guided the Mayoress and I around the school grounds were we saw a variety of activity areas. The first was a Fairy Garden that included a quite reading shelter, this was a shelter furnished with soft cushions and drapes. We then went to a wooded area where children were sitting singing and signing nursery rhymes, truly enchanting. Eventually we arrived at pond dipping, the children were able to name the animals the Mayoress had fished out with a net.

An amazing school, during the visit were met some of the governors and representatives from Alpha Laboratories who support the school by providing finance for facility improvement.

We also met the head of the Junior School, Steve Cox. Nikki explained that he two schools work closely together to ensure a seamless transition from school to school.


Monday 20 May 2024

Mayor Making & AGM at The Point Eastleigh

On 20th May 2024 I was honoured by Councillors of the Borough of Eastleigh with being elected to the office of Mayor of Eastleigh. The evening started with well-earned thanks to the retiring Mayor, Nick Couldrey, and a unanimous vote of thanks to him and the retiring Mayoress, his wife Anne. They had attended a huge number of engagements and represented the Borough to the fullest.

My wife of 40 plus years was then invested as Mayoress by the outgoing Mayoress.

My Deputy Mayor was elected as Janice Asman, an excellent selection, and I had the wonderful task of investing her with her badge of office. Janice has selected Sarah Turl as her Deputy Mayoress and she was invested to office by the new Mayoress.
Having been invested as Mayor I then appointed Reverend Hayley Richens as my Chaplin for the forthcoming year. Hayley was unavoidable absent so was appointed in her absence.

I then had the pleasure of presenting a prize for the 50th anniversary logo to Stephanie Rose. The logo was a well-considered design that included landmarks from across the borough in a design that is simple to accommodate onto a document.
Special mention was made to Chandler’s Ford u3a who had created a post box Topper to commemorate 50 years of Eastleigh Borough, truly a spectacular work of art.

I was then delighted to present a “Local Hero” award to Karlie Smith who founded and runs Perfectly Imperfect. Her mission is to help people experiencing mental or emotional stress and teaches self-help by introducing them to a new circle of friends.
The highlight of the evening was to confer the title of Honorary Alderman to Roger Woods. Roger is a former Mayor and long term Councillor. The award is a legacy oversight of the forming of the new council. At that time Roger was omitted from the recipients that have completed 12 years or more service on the Borough or County and, at the age of 98, he was the centre of attention as EBC corrected that omission. Roger replied to the Council thanking them for his award.

Following the ceremony, the Mayoral party, plus the two award recipients, processed out and were delighted to greet all the guests that had attended the ceremony. There were refreshments available in the foyer of the The Point and during the reception The Mayoress and I had the opportunity to view some of the Toppers created by U3a Chandlers Ford. The latest were those created for the 80th anniversary commemoration of D Day.

CX & Mayor                  (Chief Executive witnesses the Mayor signing the acceptance of Office)

Mayoralty 2425     (Deputy Mayoress - Sarah Turl, Deputy Mayor - Councillor Janice Asman, Mayor – Councillor David Pragnell, Mayoress – Jean Pragnell)

Steph Rose 2
(50 Years Logo Winner Stephanie Rose)

Karlie Smith     
(Karlie Smith)

Roger Wood     
(Roger Wood)

U3A 1U3A 2Postbox TopperMayor & Topper
(Chandler’s Ford u3a​)


- 2023-2024 Deputy Mayor's Blogs -


10 April 2024

HMS Loch Fada Reunion

The evening was fantastic. It started with us having the honour of meeting Frankie Cooper, he was the youngest member of the first crew of HMS Loch Fada. The ship was adopted by the town of Eastleigh in May 1944. He is now 98 years old, and he demonstrated that he still had the ability to consume navy strength rum, certainly more than I could! Frankie recalled that the first deployment of the ship was for operation Neptune, this is the naval part of operation Overlord, D-Day landings. Frankie told us that the ship was sent to the bay of Biscay to prevent U Boats from attacking the invasion fleet. During that time he saw a torpedo heading straight at them. Perfectly aimed and destined to hit amidship. He was very relieved when the waves heaved HMS Loch Fada high into the air at the exact moment the torpedo would have hit, and the torpedo whet under the keel and the ship was spared. The U Boat had a less happy ending, having revealed its location, it was attacked and sunk by the surrounding frigates.

This was the last formal reunion and the memorabilia will be sent to Chatham and distributed to members of the fraternity, with some items being presented to Eastleigh Borough Council for permanent display at the Civic Offices. They will delay the distribution long enough for there to be a display at the commemoration of D Day at Hamble on June 6th.

The ship was the first of its class to be commissioned into the Royal Navy and when she was finally paid off, was the only one left still commissioned. The ship sailed the globe representing the UK after the end of WW2.

The evening consisted of a formal dinner but we had the opportunity to meet everyone present. The hospitality was second to none, although, as I found out, the naval rum was way stronger than I am used to. Luckily the Mayoress was wise enough to sip her drink and was able to take charge of the car keys.


February 2024

Chinese New Year Celebration Lantern festival

Knowing little about Chinese traditional celebrations we didn’t know what to expect. What a treat it was! The first thing we became aware of is the vibrant colours and energetic dances. The show had many highlights, traditional dance, demonstration of martial arts, poetry, formal dress, musical performances, and singing.

This year is the year of the Dragon.

There were so many fantastic performances that it is hard to pick on any one, although the Guzheng, this is an instrument similar to a harp was entrancing, the music was beautiful and the many players were so precise they sounded as one instrument. The youngest of the players was just 4 years old! She played the hole piece, playing without music, it was beautiful.

The whole performance was recorded and will be available on-line.


Myor Blog

January 2024

Bishopstoke Players Pantomime

This was a wonderful evening’s entertainment. The cast was a mixture of adults and youngsters down to 8 years old. The script was written by the Director, Adrian Barrett.

The production was entitled Dick Whittington, but any resemblance to a known children’s storey ends there. The script was hilarious, the performers were outstanding, both in dialogue and performance. There were times the cast had to wait for the audience to recover before they could continue!

We were also treated to the birthday celebrations of an audience member, congratulations to Jean on her 100th birthday.

The group raise money for the “Action for Children” charity. They have been supporting the charity since 1947 and is now the oldest continuous supporter after the Methodist Church.

They have a Website WWW.bishopstokeplayers.uk  New members are always welcomed.

This was a brilliant performance and one that all children and adults would love.


Mayorattendsstreetparty

December 2023

Browsholme Close Christmas Street Party

When I arrived, I could instantly tell that this was no ordinary street party, this was a real party. The road was decorated everywhere. Light from house to house across the close. Front gardens transformed into a winter wonderland.
The residents do all this to raise money for the Friends of Shakespeare Infant School, and they raised a staggering £257.56. Considering they sell nothing, have no games or activities any rely entirely on donations on the day, it is a huge sum.


The event was triggered by Covid: during lock down close residents were allowed to stand on their driveways but not meet anyone or go anywhere. At this time, it became necessary for some residents to assist their neighbours when they went down with Covid. This caused the close to become much closer, they knew of each other at the start, and now the whole close are best of friends and the result is the street party. I understand Halloween and Christmas events are already in the diary.


I have to tell you about the Flash Bomb. At 6pm, the residents grouped together and performed a dance down the road. It was fantastic. All in fancy dress, completely uninhibited, they gave it their all. I do wonder what they will do next year.


If you feel motivated to do something similar, please contact your local Councillor who will be happy to help with road closure process.


Cube4funmayoress

December 2023

Cubes4Fun Winter Wonderland

The Deputy Mayoress, Jean Pragnell was invited to represent Eastleigh Borough Council at the Cubes4fun Winter Wonderland dinner and Christmas party at Hilton Ageas. The group is an exclusive professional/business women fun group. The aim of the group is to make time, despite busy lifestyles, to nurture, support and celebrate each other, irrespective of ethnicity, or status.


They support each other with mentoring, counselling, personal support and promoting business opportunities for Women. During the evening there were awards for services to the community and for support within the group.


The evening was a mix of dining, music, games, fashion show, singing, and dancing.


December 2023

Southampton Wind Bands’ Pyramid Concert with guests Studio Band

This was an intriguing concert. We really didn’t know what to expect. But the evening was really good.


We started by listening to the youngest players who have learned to master their instruments, read music, and play in time under the direction of a conductor. The music was indeed music, well-rehearsed and beautifully performed.

As the evening progressed, we were treated to more advanced performers, they were able to tackle some quite complex pieces of music, many of the players were so good and confident, they performed solos during the performance.


Finally, we were treated to the experts, and these musicians were spectacular. The music was precise, beautiful, and performed with total confidence, and so it should be because they are very good.


If you get the chance to see them, grab the opportunity.


December 2023

Eastleigh Christmas Market

On Saturday 2 December I was invited to attend the Eastleigh Christmas Market. The day was bitterly cold, but the reception was warm and welcoming. The Deputy Mayoress and I were pleased to see the market full of people. The Christmas gifts were selling well, and the food vendors were doing a roaring trade.


We met the organisers who were grateful for our attendance and felt that the recognition from Eastleigh Borough Council was as important as the shoppers visiting the stalls.


We met and spoke to several stall holders’ and they reported successful days’ trading.


November 2023

Remembrance Service in Villeneuve St Georges

The Deputy Mayoress and I had the honour of representing the Borough of Eastleigh at the Remembrance ceremony on 11 November. We flew from Eastleigh Airport, using the runway extension, direct to Orly Airport, which is only a mile from Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, and were met at the airport by our hosts.

We were treated to an escorted walking tour around some of the Parisian highlights before we navigated our way to a restaurant where we were joined by the representatives of Kornwestheim.

We had a few minutes down time after being delivered to our apartment before we were chauffeured to the Villeneuve-Saint-Georges Conservatoire, where we attended a reception where we were treated to French poetry put to music, which was spectacular. We then exchanged gifts with both the French and German delegations

On the morning of the 11th we attended the Villeneuve-Saint-Georges Cemetery. The service started with a moving ceremony to pay respects at the war memorial. Here all parties laid flowers to honour the war dead. The next part of the ceremony was to walk through the cemetery, past graves of allied servicemen, to a memorial to the French Resistance. ||Here we paid our respects, and the three Mayors, French, German, and English jointly laid a spray of flowers as a mark of our joint respect. From there we were guided to the final part where we were lead to an area that is given over to the allied dead, Many head stones record indecently premature deaths of brave young men. I noted that there was scarcely a dry eye at this part of the service.

We withdrew to a community hall where we gathered ourselves and had refreshments.

That evening we were entertained at a restaurant that has a Brazilian theme. We came together as strangers and ended the weekend as friends. This is fitting because the weekends ceremony was very much to celebrate that, after all our past conflicts, we are now firm international friends.

 


October 2023

Hampshire in Harmony

A most enjoyable event at Thornden Hall. Four male voice choirs gave individual and joint renditions of traditional and fringe numbers. The standard was incredible. They were the Romsey, The Police, The Basingstoke, and the Rushmoor Male Voice Choirs.

The purpose of the evening is to recruit regular donors to the Hampshire Air Ambulance. For the sake of clarity, the Air Ambulance’s primary task is to get a doctor to a scene as quick as possible, if the patient is stable enough, they then take the patient to hospital. However, all too often the patient is so poorly, that the need to be worked on during the trip so need to be taken by ambulance. The average cost of each flight is £3,000.

After the concert, I spoke to many of the performers and there was a frequent theme that explained why they continue to take part.

Firstly, they need to leave their house to attend rehearsals, many live alone or are retired and, were it not for this pastime, would go shopping, tend to gardens, and watch TV. Incidentally, there is no age barrier, or the need to be able bodied to join a choir.

Secondly, they now have a vast amount of close friends with whom they share experiences and concerns. They find that the bond formed by singing removes the barriers that many men have when discussing their problems. The network of friends extends across the whole country and even overseas for some.
Then there is the mental exercise necessary to learn and perform the complex musical pieces. Learning is recognised as an important factor in keeping the brain healthy.

Lastly, the fitness that results from the disciplined singing ensures that the heart and lungs get a thorough work out during the practice sessions and the performances.

Following the performance we gathered in the bar area and then the night’s entertainment came to a crescendo, in what is referred to as the “after glow”, at this time fuelled by refreshing beverages they harmonised and let rip with a variety of numbers, at this point the need to be male to participate was abandoned, all those that remained joined in and we rounded off the evening in a very pleasant and memorable way.


October 2023

Opening of the refurbished Coop, Chandler’s Ford

I represented the Mayor at my local Coop in Chandler’s Ford on 19 October to formally open the refurbished store. Whilst there I was introduced to various members of the team, and the changes to the market positioning explained.

All lighting is LED and the Coop expect the power consumption of the store to be a fraction of that prior to the upgrade. Every aspect of the refurb has had land fill waste reduction as the most important criteria, both during the works and as an ongoing operating strategy.

I also discovered that the store has long established links with local a food bank. They try to remove foods nearing the “best by” or “use by” dates and donate these, any that cannot be removed from the shelf or are missed, are discounted to shoppers. Food wastage from the store less than 1%.

We had a formal ceremony where I was handed the biggest scissors I have ever held and, with the help of staff, I was able to formally open the refurbished store. I spoke to several customers and they all approved the refreshed interior appearance.


October 2023

14th Eastleigh Spitfires Scout & Guide Band Concert

On the 14 October I was invited to attend the Scouts Band at United Reform Church in Chandler’s Ford. The music was a mixture of old favourites and some not so well know. The tempo was constantly changing, and the concert kept me entertained for the whole time. The concert was scheduled to end at 9 pm, we all agreed at 10 pm that should probably call it a night.

During the evening I had the honour of presenting John Weeks with a Local Hero award. John has just stepped down as District Commissioner for the area. I say the area because after Covid there were a lot of holes in the leadership to be filled, and it ended up with John filling many of them himself. Eastleigh and Chandler’s Ford are now one Scouting district, they called “The Arrows”. I think it fair to say that without John many Beaver, Cub and Scouting groups would have closed. Indeed, not only did he prevent closures, he recruited leaders and even has set up a new tier of scouting - Squirrels - for the youngest of our community.

John received a standing ovation as he made his way from his seat to the front to collect his award. His only comment was “I was just doing what anyone would have done”.


September 2023

Fernhill Court Coffee Morning

I had the pleasure of being invited to Fernhill coffee morning. This was a fundraising event to enable the Friends of Fernhill to fund events to encourage residents to socialise and take part in group exercise.

The Covid lockdown has left a legacy of loss of confidence and fear. Many of the residents are reluctant to attend functions and stay alone within their flats. This is having an effect on mental health and fitness implications. I guess this will be same across the Borough.

The Chairman, Tom Webber, and the rest of the committee were all there and they were delighted to see members of the public drop in to visit. All the committee are volunteers, the day of my visit was Tom’s 85th birthday. A group of long-term residents refer to him as “our kid”.


Ukrainefamilies

February 2023

Thanking supporters of people from Ukraine

As Mayor, one of the greatest honours for me has to be an event shortly before Christmas to recognise the wonderful contribution of families and individuals in our Borough in supporting people from Ukraine. Many of them have opened their homes to those fleeing the Russian invasion of their country, and I was delighted to be part of an event to celebrate the hosts’ kindness in doing so.

The hosts are providing desperately needed shelter and stability to people who have gone through so much. Their generosity is inspiring, and an uplifting example of the character and spirit of the people of Eastleigh.


1Comm AGM 8324

October 2022

The Mayor of Eastleigh wishes to thank One Community for the kind invitation to attend their recent Annual General Meeting at the Silverlake Stadium (the home of Eastleigh Football Club).

One Community seeks to improve the health and wellbeing of our community and residents and the meeting was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about what they have been doing and to celebrate the efforts of their supporters and volunteers. The support and services they provide are needed by so many and the meeting included a special award, the Bobbie Jones Award, for young carers.

The Mayor thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone, especially "H", Debra and Adrian, and presenting awards to the amazing supporters and volunteers.


PICU3

August 2022

The Mayoress and I recently attended the hugely successful Friends of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) fun day at the Cleveland Bay in Chandlers Ford. The charity supports the vital work that PICU does in caring for children who are often undergoing urgent and serious hospital treatment. It is an especially important cause for us and we spent a lot of time in the unit over the years with our much-missed son.

There were lots of fun activities at the pub, including a huge game of Operation, meeting a Stormtrooper and Mickey Mouse, Deal or No Deal and all manner of games and attractions to take part in. It was a wonderful day of sunshine and laughter, all to help such a worthwhile cause.

Special thanks to the kind Mayor of Test Valley for letting us visit the event.