The sun shone (ish) over the azure (ish) blue seas of Poole Harbour as we set sail (OK a small motor launch) to head northwards towards the Arne Peninsular from North Haven Yacht Club. The rush of the wind in your hair, the sun on the skin and the sense of anticipation.
And the purpose of this intrepid exploration of unknown shores? To find and identify the Boundary Marker ready for the Beating of the Sea Bounds ceremony.
Its an interesting fact that years ago, before people could read and write and a very long time ago before people had maps available to them, the people of Poole identified their boundaries by making sure the knowledge of them was handed down to the next generation.
It struck us, as we were scampering and sliding our way along the 'beach' which was only there most of the time because the tide was not full in, that that was a pretty sound way of making sure people knew where it was. We had not had the benefit of someone telling us exactly where it was, and I suspect only the wardens and very necessary guardians of the Arne nature reserve - the RSPB actually could get to it with any conviction.
Having secured the permission of the RSPB we trod carefully as we scampered up the bank to avoid disturbing any nesting birds. This was not easy with deep marshy bits between clumps of firm ground and a few prickly bits thrown in.
After some time we found, at the top of the bank at one point, signs of a very old and ne'er used track and, with a sense of anticipation followed along it and Yay! there was the boundary stone hiding in a gorse thicket. The stone was standing well and deeply engraved with wording celebrating its donation from the first lady Mayor of Poole, Margaret LLewellin in 1951. Well done to her!
So, as I prepare the last couple of weeks of Mayordom and we get ready to re-enact the Beating of the Sea Bounds, I now truly believe that even in this day and age, with social media, instant gratification from online 'googling' and sophisticated gps systems, passing on information to the next generation about where the sea boundaries of Poole are actually located and how to ensure that one part of our maritime history is perpetuated is truly, deeply and absolutely, crucial and vital.
And that is why we are putting so much time and effort into making it happen.
It was my privilege today to hail the send-off for the Royal Marines who are taking part in a 1664 mile run around the UK in just 100 days.
Now anyone who runs a bit will know that a 5k run is about enough. 10k is pushing it but anything more than that is total commitment (and some degree of self-induced pain and self-flagellation). So to take part in a run of this nature just shows the selfless regard Marines have for each other and their capacity for endurance.
And this is just one of 100 Challenges they are doing around the world over the next 100 days. I am sensing the number 100 is significant. But no, 1664 is the year the Royal Marines were formed. Who knew that?
Poole is forming part of the route which this week runs (literally) through Dorset, Somerset and Hampshire. Several Royal Marines will complete the whole 1664 miles – this will include a member of the RM Band. The run will finish in London where the team will be presented to HRH, The Duke of Edinburgh.
I love the words of Lt Col Gary Green, who organised the challenge which involves several different types of activities - all pretty gruelling to the 'normal' amongst us. He said:
“The Global Challenge is a great opportunity for the wider Corps Family to get involved and to do something to raise money for the Royal Marines Charity. Royal Marines love to challenge themselves, whether that is skiing across Norway, cycling around the UK, Kayaking across the channel, running a ridiculous distance or maxing out on press-ups – it’s what they do”.
There is a poignancy to this whole event, however. Marines get some of the toughest deployments within the armed forces and injury and fatality come with the job. Although government aid helps surviving family members and injured warriors, its never enough and Marines helping Marines is a vital funding source to make a much greater difference to injured lives.
So a massive well done to the guys running the whole distance and also to the local chaps who ran alongside today to give moral support.
Today's Blog is a shameless promotion for a part of the amazing Poole Maritime Festival;
The first ever Taste of the South festival, taking place at Poole Park, will see two original Sunseeker motorboats displayed alongside local producers and manufacturers from the South of England. These two original models, namely Mustang 20 and Hostess 17, are two of the original boats created in 1969. They were originally unveiled at boat shows in Paris, Genoa and in London at Earls Court by the founders of Sunseeker Robert and John Braithwaite.
Taste of the South takes place 19th to 21st May and has been created in association with the Poole Maritime Festival which will host the 2-day European Maritime Conference for the first time here in Poole and the UK.
As they talk about “the Future of our Seas”, Taste of the South will set sail as they treat visitors to an exclusive sneak peek of these two Sunseeker boats that made their names and fortune in their association with international celebrities, royalty and Formula One Racing Drivers as well as featuring in the famous James Bond films and several other blockbusters.
At the helm of this enterprise is entrepreneur and co-founder of Sunseeker, Robert Braithwaite CBE DL who said, “We are extremely proud of our long established heritage with Poole, Dorset and the South of England. We are looking forward to celebrating the South’s maritime history and what it has brought to us over the years.
It seems fitting that we will be showcasing two of our very own original Sunseeker boats alongside the Taste of the South festival with artisans, producers, manufacturers and other new businesses who are just starting out.
These two original boats showcase where the Sunseeker business started, and we want to share that heritage with all the visitors. Sunseeker is a global leader which started back in West Quay Road, Poole and has remained here in Poole ever since.
Taste of the South is a FREE event so please come and see the boats for yourselves and learn more about our story.”
Said Jackie Phillipson from Taste of the South and ROUTEpr, “It is rather fitting that the UKs Maritime Festival and Taste of the South should have these two Sunseeker originals, they are where the company started right here in Poole and are now a global phenomenon. One of the boats, the Hostess 17, appeared in Casino Royale and saw Robert Braithwaite himself act as the skipper to James Bond himself, Daniel Craig.”
Taste of the South is a FREE festival that takes place from 19th-21st May at Poole Park, Dorset.
What a wonderful feeling it is to stand in front of several hundred children and young people enthused by the occasion of celebrating our very own patron saint of England, St George.
Its been such a fantastic couple of weeks with the weather. Hot sunshine and a time to catch up on some much needed Vitamin D. With the longer evenings some of our much loved outside sports are emerging from the winter break.
Bikes are being dusted off, tennis rackets unwrapped and toes tentatively dipped in the sea (madness). The most important thing is that we get out there and have a go at any sport or activity and enjoy it.
But Some things in life we were born too early or late for. I just wish they had had cycle speedway when i was 12/13 years old and flying around the common on my bike like a mad thing. I am sure i would have loved to have been part of Poole Cycle Speedway! I went down there on Monday evening and loved the taster session, and highly recommend this for girls and young women #ThisGirlCan .
Look at their website on http://www.poolecsc.com/ and get down there and have a go.
More than anything it was great to meet the girls and young women who not only incredibly passionate about the sport but very very talented as well. Apologies to anyone who wanted to race me, it just wasn't much of a competition. But give me time!
Meanwhile, in another part of Baiter Park, plans are racing ahead for the Festival of Seven Seas and, especially a real treat - a BIG WHEEL! In the words of the organisers, Immense Events:
BIG Wheel to offer views of Poole as it has never been seen before!!
A chance to see the local sights as you’ve never seen them before, the amazing Poole Harbour BIG Wheel a converted Shipping Can-tainer, The HarBar, open next month in Harbourside Park (Baiter) as the start of the Poole Maritime Festival celebration and the first FREE Seven Seas family festival.
The 33-metre high Poole Harbour BIG Wheel opens on Friday 28 April with rides available seven days a week for four weeks, culminating in the free family fun of the Seven Seas Festival with its celebration of the world’s food, music and culture, running for three days and two nights from 19 to 21 May. Seven Seas Festival
This and so much more coming to Poole for the Maritime Festival is the reason i and others have been so excited and so proud to have made this happen. Poole has never had such a reason to celebrate our Maritime Heritage and a fantastic opportunity to do so.
A massive thank you and well done to the people who stick their neck out, take a risk and make things happen. We look forward to enjoying what you have laid before us. As a very special privilege I get to open it at around 5pm on 28th, so come on down and join us.
Visiting Bournemouth University this week to present prizes to the winners of the Soroptomists' STEM Challenge was encouraging to say the least. I say encouraging because clearly girls are stepping up to the mark to take on the curriculum subjects that have traditionally been more of interest to their male counterparts. However, this stepchange in our education and society in general has been increasing gradually over the past few years.
I'll come back to the STEM challenge, but take another recent visit. This time to the Rotary Club's national Technology challenge. Hosted in our area by Parkstone Grammar School, several local schools participated in the challenge to design and build a contraption that would move along a pipeline, under an arch and go over or pick up some pebbles. This included the electronics to manoevre the vehicle by remote control.
The teams were pretty equally mixed with girls and boys aged from about 14 to 17/18. The oldest students had the additional challenge of picking up the pebbles.
As I went round each of the tables to peer at what was being created and ask a few questions, I was really struck by the enthusiasm and innovation, but in particular I was struck by the fantastic merging of ideas and the way in which the girls and boys different approach to the challenge clearly complimented each other to the greater good of the end product. The lessons to be learnt from that are obvious!
So, with the Soroptomists' challenge being of a technological nature but quite different, the teams were all female. The Soroptomists 'raison d'etre' is to help improve the lives of girls and women both nationally and internationally. So, appropriately they set the challenge to create something that could improve the lives of women in developing countries that was also sustainable.
The innovation and creativity was masterful. The finalists presented their projects to the judges at Bournemouth University and included students from Ringwood, Glenmoor and Talbot Heath Schools. The ideas and creations are on the 'March Out and About' page so I won't repeat it here. But clearly the talent amongst our young ladies is enormous and if they can develop their interest and the talent to career level our world will clearly be a better place.
I have to say I particulalry did like this creation, the flatpack stove that had an 'add-on' on the side to boil water at the same time as cooking. Very clever.
Today was a rather sobering reminder of a time when my life was rather turned upside down by my husband informing me that he had been 'called up' to Active Duty to serve in Bosnia. He informed me he had received the call and that he would be leaving in just two weeks for 274 days. Now, maths is not my greatest subject, so in my despair I was also trying to work out how many months (I at least knew it was more than a few weeks) that 274 days equated to. SIX MONTHS, I didn't know how I was going to survive that long without him. I hadn't signed up to be an Army wife when I married him as he had come out of the US Army some time before. Anyway, after an hour or two as I was getting over the initial shock, it suddenly dawned on me that we were talking NINE months, not six. Aaaahhh. Added shock. (As an aside, that was nothing compared to ten years later when he got called up to serve for a year in Iraq and a few years later 18 months to serve in Afghanistan - yes life can be tough!).
Anyway, my point is that today, whilst hearing from the Wessex Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Association about the benefits of being a Reservist and of employing one, I was thrown back in time to a period in life that was pretty damn hard.
But, joy and good news. The English system is so so so much better than the US system. Not only do reservists get many months notice of any call up, its much much shorter, all very civilised and they even get a choice. If the timing is just not right for them and/or their employer, they get to postpone the call (unless its a matter of losing the battle/war without them). They get to consult their family and they get to consult their employer. Of course, its still very much 'hoped' that they deploy!
And, not only that, but the employer gets compensated for additional costs. They do not pay their employee whilst they are deployed, as they are paid by the government, so they can recruit into the position temporarily.
Hearing more from an employer of many Reservists, G3 Systems, it was clear that there are many benefits to employers in having people in their workforce who are Reservists. Training, mainly is all done in the employees spare time - evenings, weekends and some annual leave. However, the character and confidence building and skills and learning development that comes from the training hugely benefits the Organisation.
Its a long list, as was explained to us by a Reservist who said that in his life 'before signing up' he would never, in a million years have had the confidence to do a public presentation, (and you would never know it). The list clearly included confidence building, but also the ability to work much more as a team; take a leadership role; develop and use initiative and think quickly in terms of problem solving. All assets to any workforce.
With serious challenges facing employers to fill the gaps to maintain a skilled workforce encouraging existing or potential employees to develop themselves through signing up with the Reservists may just widen the pool of resource. Everyone is set to win.
Every town needs a historic or legendary figure that captures the essence of their history and heritage. Harry Paye is remembered in Poole as a heroic seafarer who may have been a pirate at times but also had considerable success in capturing enemy ships. Stories and legends abound about him but he is a figure that people in Poole love to celebrate.
So, the Pirates of Poole joined me on a visit to Faversham, Kent to pay tribute to Harry Paye at his final resting place in the Parish Church, St Mary of Charity where we unveiled a replica brass marking his tomb which future visitors could recognise; the original one having been so worn and damaged that it is not possible to read a name.
Greeted by the Mayor of Faversham, Cllr Shiel Campbell, the Deputy Mayor and the Priest in Charge of the Church, Reverend Simon Rowlands, amongst others, we trundled happily through the town, meandering through the market stalls and stopping for an occasional photo with local residents, to the Church.
What a beautiful and fascinating old Church. We learnt more about Harry Paye's final days and his connection to Faversham, which was part of the network of important Cinque ports and a key port during the later middle ages.
Harry Paye is believed to have been born in Poole around 1360. He sailed for most of his life around the southern shores of Britain and into French and Spanish seas, plundering, pirating and at the same time fighting the enemy fleets for his country and crown. After causing havoc amongst the Spanish and French fleet, they joined forces and raided Poole in the hope of putting an end to him. He wasn't home, but they did kill his brother and alot of other people and burnt much of the Town.
On his return, Harry rallied his and several other ships and went to seek revenge. Some time later he returned to Poole with the spoils from over 120 Spanish and French ships including one laden with fine wine. In his declaration to Poole he invited his fellow citizens to drink the wine with him as a small compensation for the damage and loss they had suffered during the raid. After many days of celebration Harry Paye's name was deeply embedded in the hearts and minds of the Townsfolk and he has been a signficant part of Poole's history and legend ever since. He spent the latter part of his life in Kent around Faversham, successfully leading fleets of ships sailing from the Cinque ports in the name of the King and died there in 1419.
Michael Cullen, a local Poole amateur historian who commissioned the replical brass, travelled along with us. He had been to Faversham and was disappointed to see the state of the original brass. He knew the Pirates of Poole had visited the church and wanted something better and more recognisable for future visitors.
Leader of the Pirates of Poole, Marty Caine, believed the long journey was very worthwhile. He was particularly pleased to see that the owners of one of the best local hotels in Faversham has named their bar and courtyard after Harry Paye. 'His history and legends surrounding him certainly live on' He said, and 'we will certainly continue to celebrate him each year through Harry Paye Day!'
Harry Paye day is organised along Poole Quay every year in June by the Pirates of Poole. This year, on May 14th as part of the Poole Maritime Festival, the Pirates are working with me to organise the Beating of the Sea Bounds that marks the old traditional sea boundaries around Poole which Harry Paye would have been involved in at some time during his life and certainly would have been recognised by him. For further information visit the Beating of the Sea Bounds page.
With European Maritime Day (EMD) only three months away it is definitely about time this amazing event was explained on this site and on this Blog page.
This is the greatest event to ever come to Poole. EMD is only ever held in each European country one time. It has never been to the UK before and will never come again. It is one of the most important Maritime related events in the international calendar and its happening here in Poole - wow! How amazing is that.
The European Commission's website for European Maritime Day in Poole 2017 is up and running and its all about Poole! http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/maritimeday/…/poole-2017
This is just the start of the avalanche of international interest in our Town - let's celebrate!! And how did it all come about? Well, are you sitting comfortably??
Now once upon a time as long ago as 2011 I went to Brussels with a very able Economic Development Team manager and a couple of team members. We went to find out if there was any funding from Europe to a coastal community town such as ours and how we could access that funding. After a rather highbrow meeting with some very senior EU officials, who told us rather pointedly that we were not a town that could compete with Gothenborg, Athens/Piraeous and Bremen etc. we said our goodbyes and started to leave with some sense of despondency.
As we were heading out of the door, one of the officers, almost as an aside, asked if we knew about European Maritime Day. We had not. He mentioned that the Commission were aware of the lack of engagement by the UK and that to have EMD in the UK would be a good thing.
We left the premises rather keen to hear more. Before we left Brussels the next day we had secured meetings with people involved in the event and found out a bit more about it.
EMD was established in 2008 at the first Conference to progress European Maritime Policy agreed between the European Parliament, European Commission and the European Council. It is celebrated annually around May 20th across Europe to raise the visibility of maritime sectors and support an integrated approach to maritime affairs.
The Conference welcomes Europe's growing maritime community, with industry professionals from across the EU joining policymakers to discuss, debate and exchange best practises. Participants come from ports, shipping industries, clusters, environmental associations, trade unions, scientific and research institutions, education, and local, regional, national and European authorities, amongst others.
We left Brussels with the belief that there could be an opportunity for Poole to host this important event and raise our profile substantially amongst the maritime sector, both nationally and internationally. Great for businesses and the economy.
So, in the endeavour to make this happen I and others have spent countless hours on bringing the Government on board; attending conferences in Bremen, Athens/Piraeous and Turku, to better understand how we can make it an event that Poole will be proud to have hosted; publicising it to all and sundry and trying to get council to support it!
But I as well as a lot of hard work, especially in pursuit of putting together the actual bid, (which was so convoluted that by the time I found to whom it had to be submitted, we had a deadline of two weeks) and many meetings and more meetings to move things forward (I won't begin to go over just how challenging the journey has been at times) I have also met so many fantastic people who have always recognised what this event brings to Poole and who have also been working really hard to make things happen.
Now with only three months to go, we have the Conference on track, we have the voluntary sector working on an army of helpers, a fantastic Poole Harbour Boat Show that is now in its third year and getting bigger and better every year; we have a Festival of Seven Seas on Baiter that promises to the best family focussed maritime festival we have seen in Poole; the Taste of the South event in Poole Park and a series of arts events. Wow!
Oh, and don't forget we are working on the 'Beating of the Sea Bounds' for May 14th, as an additional part of the festivities.
So check out our www.poolemaritimefestival.uk for all the information you need and make sure you are a part of something amazing.
And don't forget the Maritime Ball!