The Ripon Mayor’s column with Pauline McHardy

Myself, Dame Kelly Holmes and deputy mayor Charlie Powell at Queen Ethelburga's College.
Myself, Dame Kelly Holmes and deputy mayor Charlie Powell at Queen Ethelburga's College.

Tuesday 20 June – Myself and other mayors from across the district were invited to Menwith Hill. Sqn Leader Geoff Dickinson gave us an extensive explanation of the history of Menwith Hill and its function.

This was very interesting and enlightening. We were later taken inside what many people refer to as the “Golf Balls” and their function was explained, but I am afraid a lot of this information was beyond my comprehension.

I found the structure and architecture of the golf balls fascinating and the materials used, also how they combat high winds to prevent structural damage.

We then went on a tour of the camp and were shown the alterations that had been made and informed of other changes that have been planned for the future.

Friday 23 June – The deputy mayor Charlie Powell and I attended the Chapter House Speech Day and Prize Giving at Queen Ethelburga’s College. We were warmly welcomed by staff, children and parents. Dame Kelly Holmes was the guest speaker and presenter of the prizes.

Kelly is a double Olympic Gold Medallist and historically only the second woman to have won the 800m and 1500m titles in the same games. Over her career as an athlete she has succeeded in winning many, many medals. When her school days had come to an end she had accomplished winning the English Schools Tournament.

After her school days Kelly chose a career in the Army and served as a physical training instructor. She was awarded an MBE for her services to the British Army.

Now much of her time is spent supporting several charities as patron, such as vice president of the Women’s Sport Foundation and president of Commonwealth Games England, speaking at various functions and if that isn’t enough to keep her busy, she has opened her own cafe in her home town in Kent. Her speech was enthralling and inspirational to the benefit of children and adults alike.

That same evening, I attended St John’s Chapel in Bondgate for a tea party which was organised by the residents of the Almshouses. I was greeted by Neema and Colin Harrison. The party was to celebrate and thank the trustees of the Almshouses and show appreciation for the work and support they give to the residents.

Later we participated in a short service of Evening Prayer for the Feast of St John The Baptist.

Saturday 24 June – I was escorted around the military stands on the market square by Cllr Mike Chambers, where everyone were celebrating Armed Forces Day.

It was delightful to talk to the people on the stands and listening to them explaining enthusiastically what they were showcasing. Later they held the Drum Service, which was performed years gone by, and I’m sure will still take place under certain circumstances.

The drums that were played to lead people into battle would be strategically placed to form an altar and a service of prayer would take place. To everyone’s delight two aircraft performed a fly past.

That evening I was invited to 886 Squadron Annual Dinner. I was greeted by Cadet members of the Squadron.

The male cadets looked very smart in their white shirts, black bow ties and grey trousers whilst the female cadets looked beautiful in their evening dresses. They were truly ladies and gentlemen. I’m sure their Commanding Officer and volunteers who support them were proud of them.

Thank you very much for inviting me.