COLUMN: Mayor of Ripon’s diary

Event organiser Yvonne Covell with visiting dignitaries at the Great Ripon Raft Race.
Event organiser Yvonne Covell with visiting dignitaries at the Great Ripon Raft Race.
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Coun Mick Stanley chronicles a week in the community life of Ripon.

Friday evening, August 23, and Gill and I were at the Ripon Arts summer 2013 exhibition in Ripon Town Hall to see the art show, and we were welcomed by Heather Powell and Derek Hopper who guided us to the wide range of subjects on display.

There were also 14 competition entries of a high standard from some of the 90 members of Ripon Arts (www.riponarts.co.uk) who meet on the third Thursday of every month at Allhallowgate Church Hall, and I encourage readers to see the exhibition which closes at 4pm on Saturday.

We were pleased to see the new Welcome to Ripon Town Hall mat in the main entrance to the town hall which is part of Harrogate Borough Council’s new customer service centre, now open on the ground floor, which will also see Ripon Tourist Information Centre move into the building in time for the opening on November 23, the day of the Christmas lights switch-on and the Ripon Cathedral Christmas Craft Fair.

That Saturday promises to be a great day for shopping in Ripon, and remember that for every £1 spent with independent shops 75p remains in the local area.

Early Saturday morning it was raining and the prospect for the Great Ripon Raft Race was dismal, but of course this is Britain and the weather forecast for rain was wrong and most of the day, from 10am to 3pm stayed fine and many visitors enjoyed the spectacle of the raft races at the canal basin, organised by Scuba Diving for All. Well done Yvonne, Sheila, Archie and all those wonderful helpers for a great day that was enjoyed by the whole of the local chain gang with Mayors and Mayoresses and consorts from Boroughbridge, Harrogate, Knaresborough, Pateley Bridge, Richmond and Bernard and Linda Bateman, chairman and lady of North Yorkshire County Council.

We saw raft races, swan races and bath races and lots of dunkings in the coldish water of the canal, but everyone enjoyed the races and the good weather right up to 3pm when prizes were given out while the rain started to descend.

I would like to pay tribute to members of the US Navy contingent from Menwith Hill, who had worked hard all morning to clear land of vegetation and move a large pile of bricks for Ripon Museum Trust, and then came down to the canal at my invitation to compete against each other in a bath race.

They all enjoyed the experience but ended in the water and went home happy but very wet. Thanks for the hard work.

Sunday lunchtime and Gill and I were at the 50th cocktail party of 126-year-old Ripon Rugby Club, hosted by the president Andy Proud and the new madame chairman, Charlie Roberts.

After drinks in the sunshine outside Charlie made a short speech of welcome and outlined the successes of the club this year, in a year of challenges.

The under-16s won the Yorkshire Cup final, and 10 boys played for the county, three boys making the North of England team and two represent England at under-16 level; what a great achievement and honour for those young people, and also credit to the ability and dedication of their coaches and team managers.

The Rugby Club has 300 young players and needs more pitches to play on in the city, and it is hoped that sporting facilities can be expanded in outline in the city plan. I would like to add my thanks to all of the mums, dads, aunts and uncles, grannies and grandpas of the young talent who have made their time available to help them to success.

Monday evening and we were off to the Royal Hall to see the last of shows, Pirates of Penzance, in the Classicfest Gilbert and Sullivan festival in Harrogate.

The G&S Opera Company put on another great show with much comedy and excellent music and theatrical interpretation from this professional company with John Savournin excelling as director/choreographer and Pirate King, the wonderful soprano voice of Mabel played by Alexandra Hutton, and Richard Gauntlett as Major General Stanley, the very model of a modern major general.

Great theatre and great entertainment, and Harrogate looks forward to a month of G&S in August of next year. We hope to see them in Ripon during the month.