Shipston Forum celebrates 20 years!
January 2020 might be the start of a new decade, but more importantly – it’s the Shipston Forum’s birthday!
The Shipston Forum was founded by Shipston Town Council in 2000 following suggestions from members of the public. Residents had been keen to understand more about the town council and local activities, leading to a proposal for the town council to produce a newsletter. Initially, then town councillor, Gudrun Berry, took on the challenge of editing the magazine, having previously edited a popular newsletter for military wives. But getting the Forum off the ground was no mean feat.
“As with any new idea, not everyone was keen and we had precious little resource to help us.” Gudrun recalls. “What we did have, though, was a Millennium Grant from Stratford District Council which gave us the financial help we needed to get our project started.”
The vision for the Forum was clear – to create a community newsletter with a mix of content from the town council, contributions from local clubs and schools, and input from the county and district councils. While the design has had a few updates over the years, the approach to content remains very similar today. In 2001, the Shipston Forum was Highly Commended in the Village Venture Competition run by Warwickshire Rural Community Council - and it continues to be valued by local residents twenty years on.
When asked what the main issues of the day were back in 2000, Gudrun replied: “Dog fouling kept coming up as an issue”. No change there, then! But the need to provide services for young people was also a major priority and continues to be so now.
Producing the Shipston Forum today is a bit easier than it used to be. Whereas Gudrun had to physically cut and paste articles into the right places, we have the benefit of design software that makes laying pages out much easier. One of the biggest challenges in the early days, though, was getting people to submit information, particularly within the deadline. It’s fair to say this can still be a challenge today, although we’re pleased to say we do receive a lot of useful and timely contributions every month.
Despite enjoying editing the Forum, Gudrun had to hand over the reins when it became too challenging to manage while also being an active member of the town council. “It was very difficult to actively participate in discussions while also taking copious notes for the Forum - and it was also important to avoid any conflict of interest,” Gudrun added. Since then the Forum has been edited independently, although the town council still oversees every issue.
Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “As a Town Council we are extremely proud of the Shipston Forum. The newsletter not only allows us to keep residents informed about council news, but is an essential source of information about the vast array of events, clubs, charities and good deeds that happen around the town. Gudrun should feel especially pleased to see the Forum, which she was so instrumental in launching, reach this 20 year milestone.”
Gudrun stepped down as editor when she became Mayor in 2001. Since then, there have been a handful of different editors, all bringing their own style. 2020 will see a new face at the Forum as Catherine Martin hands the baton on to a new editor from April.
Catherine said: “After nearly nine years as editor, I feel it’s the right time for me to step down, but I will be sad to say goodbye to the Forum. It’s a great publication to work on and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the town and the many different clubs, events and charities that generate so much positive news. I look forward to seeing how the Forum develops - who knows what will be making the news in Shipston in twenty years’ time?”
Shipston’s Town Clerk retires after more than a decade
Shipston Town Council bid a reluctant farewell to Town Clerk, Georgina Beaumont, who retired in December.
Georgina has led the Clerk’s Office for over ten years, during which time she has become a fount of all knowledge to do with local services, events and activities. Having successfully acquired her Certificate in Local Government Administration, Georgina has been able to guide and support the town council, serving eight different mayors and seeing the town council through elections as well as a local referendum and a Neighbourhood Plan referendum.
In addition to her considerable responsibilities as Clerk, Georgina has contributed a significant amount of her own time to support local activities, including the Wool Fair and other Civic events over the years.
Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “We are very sad to see Georgina go after over ten years of very dedicated service. Georgina works extremely hard and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the town and our responsibilities as a town council. On behalf of the town and my fellow councillors, I would like to sincerely thank Georgina for all her hard work. We wish her a long, happy and healthy retirement.”
Welcome to the new team at New Clark House
It’s all change in the Clerk’s Office for 2020. Alison Packer has taken on the role of Town Clerk following Georgina’s retirement. Alison will be working closely with assistant, Diane Neath, who joined the Town Council in August 2019.
Alison is already well known locally, both as a local business owner and for her creation of the popular 'War on Waste Shipston Area' Facebook page. As a community-minded individual who has lived in the area for over 25 years, when Alison saw the Clerk’s post advertised, she jumped at the opportunity to become more involved with the town. “I appreciate the importance of the town council, particularly in supporting local groups and initiatives - working closely with local communities was something I had previously enjoyed during my career in public service and although this is a unique role with plenty to learn, I am looking forward to sharing my experience and supporting the town.”
Diane moved to Shipston approximately ten years ago and was immediately struck by the amount of events that take place in the town. “My background is in education so I am used to following policies and procedures and dealing with all sorts of unexpected situations which may arise. In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve been amazed at how much work goes in to running a town council. The work is extremely varied – from administering the Council’s finances to liaising with allotment holders and contractors and helping with the organisation of events in the town.
The Clerk’s office is also open for public enquiries and a lot of time is spent signposting people to the right places for services provided by other authorities.
Alison added: “I can already see that no two days are the same, and whilst I’ve no doubt this will be a challenge, I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to follow in Georgina's footsteps and do my best for Shipston.”