Time to reflect on the past year

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As we approach the end of the year it is customary to reflect on what the year has presented, writes Harrogate Mayor Coun Anne Jones.

In my own case, May 2017 saw me bestowed with the chains of office for the Borough of Harrogate, the First Citizen, such a great honour.

In the early weeks of my tenure I had the task of writing to the Mayors of Manchester and London with condolences for the abominable acts carried out in those Cities.

Balance this with the joy of my many school visits over the past seven months and the fabulous Special Olympics at the HYDRO when I wanted to bottle the pure excitement of the competitors. One might reflect, deepest sadness and overwhelming joy in equal measure.

The good days certainly outweigh the sad as one cannot remain heavy hearted when in the company of the many volunteers in our Borough, be it attending the Volunteer Oscars, visiting NYCC Horizons or helping to deliver hot meals with the Food Angels of Harrogate Neighbours or indeed meeting with the stalwarts of In-Bloom both in Harrogate and Starbeck.

These inspirational people certainly uplift the heart. As did my visit to Claro Enterprises for the Christmas celebrations and the Inaugural Henshaws Christmas Carol Service held at our beloved Royal Hall.

Service user and Art Maker Hannah Reda brought the house down with her infectious laughter and her humour when the performance went off piste!

The Lord Lieutenant Barry Dodd confessed to having tears of joy in his eyes at the antics, quite heart-warming.

If you missed the event this year please note your diaries for Christmas 2018.

I have had many visits to Ripon and I can confess that the Consort and I have fallen in love with our District’s Cathedral, and why wouldn’t you?

Each event has been quite moving and meaningful, one worthy of particular note is the Oakleaf Service, when loved ones lost to road traffic accidents are honoured and remembered.

It was also a privilege to be present at the Commemoration Service of Lt Col Elliot-Cooper VC especially as I was in the company of, my boys, the junior soldiers of the Army Foundation College, so very proud of them.

It would be difficult to have a favourite event from the many I have attended but the Festive Nine Lessons evening on December 23 would come very close I must say.

Returning to the reflection of the joy and sadness of the Mayor’s role I was thrilled to be part of the Harrogate Christmas Market and the big switch on of the Christmas lights along with my colleague Santa Claus AKA Ian Wood, a champion Harrogate Lion and a thoroughly lovely man, his passing was sudden and unexpected, he will be missed.

And raising the spirits once more came the Mayor’s Christmas Eve Celebrations and the first ever Valley Gardens early start to festivities with a huge audience entertained by Tewit Youth Band before a fabulous programme delivered at the Royal Hall by St Aidan’s Symphonic Wind Band, in great number I might add, Harrogate Symphony Orchestra’s string and wind elements, with special appearances by Niamh Robinson-Wakefield and Oscar Gray.

Plus my Ant and Dec of Festivities AKA Conductors, Bryan Western and Mark Pallant, take a bow.

Happy New Year, may 2018 be kind to us all.