Singing the praises of our local heroes

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My most sincere thanks go to you all that turned out last Friday to welcome the Mercian Regiment’s 2nd Battalion back to Mansfield.

Westgate was lined with well-wishers who followed the soldiers and the band down onto the Market Place, where many people applauded their arrival before taking the salute from Sir John Peace, Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, and Colonel David Sneath of the Mercian Regiment.

What a fantastic spectacle for the people of the district to see our soldiers returning home with bayonets fixed and colours flying, giving us all the opportunity to thank them for the true heroism they illustrate on a daily basis.

During my twelve years as your mayor I have been privileged to welcome them back on a number of occasions and have built a close association with the Mercian Regiment, who have boasted many local lads amongst their ranks. Indeed last Friday we had Private Massey from Mansfield, Private Sam Hibbert form Kirkby, Ram Major Corporal Philip Thornton from Skegby and Private Ryan Sampford from Ollerton.

Saturday saw the Rotary Club of Mansfield’s 40th anniversary concert showtime at the Palace Theatre, presented by Paul Bacon and Francis Finn of BBC Radio Nottingham and Notts TV. Many of you will remember Canon Robert Warburton who started this competition way back in 1975 and I am sure that he would not have thought that it would become one of the most prestigious annual events at the Palace Theatre with 26 entrants contesting Saturday’s final, following the heats that took place in February.

Ashley Booker, deputy editor at the Chad, was one of the distinguished panel of judges who had an extremely difficult task before announcing Mansfield’s James Morgan, a solo vocalist, as the overall winner.

James was on Notts TV last and hopes to go on to be a national and international star like the 2008 winner Lucy Key, who came second in Britain’s Got Talent last year.

Sunday afternoon saw a Cantamus concert with a difference at the Palace Theatre, where a bronze bust was unveiled in memory of Pamela Cook—probably one of Mansfield’s greatest ever ambassadors.

The bronze bust was unveiled by her husband Geoff on stage before being placed next to John Ogden’s bust in the reception area of the theatre. Pam’s great work, which started way back in 1968, is now under the directorship of Ann Irons and her assistant Elaine Guy, ably supported by Louise Collett and Freya Hales—all former pupils of the late great Pamela Cook MBE.

We were treated to a memorable tribute concert by the 42 members of the senior choir and the 35 members of the training choir, with the usual high quality accompanists Michael Neam, Stefan Reid and Philip Robinson making it a tribute concert to be remembered.

Phil Neale was the sculptor from the Harley Gallery at Welbeck and all the people that I spoke to said what a tremendous job he had done.

You can visit his website at and go along to the Palace Theatre to view the excellent bronze bust of Pamela Cook.

I will finish this week by staying on the music scene with congratulations going to Meryl Chambers who was recently awarded a lifetime achievement award for outstanding teaching at the Royal Albert Hall in front of six thousand people.

Meryl directs the Mansfield Male Voice Choir and a group of young ladies called the Singers, so keep a look out for their concerts and go along and see Mansfield’s Classic FM music teacher of the year.