What future for the town’s social groups?

ONE of the great pleasures of editing a newspaper in such a lively community as Lyme Regis is that you get to attend virtually every social event in town.

On occasions that has meant being out virtually every night of the week. But you can’t call it work, can you?

Now I am no longer the editor – having passed my green eyeshade to my daughter Francesca many moons ago – she is now the one with an hectic social life.

But as president of three local organisations, I still try to get out and about as often as I can and being slightly more detached from the movers and shakers of Lyme I can take a more relaxed attitude to the squabbles and disagreements that cause so much friction on the social media sites.

I found it particularly distressing to read some of the comments on Facebook last week following the allocation of council grants and the insulting nature of many of the comments on dogs on the beach.

I have written many times in this column on the unbelievable amount of time and effort people of Lyme willingly give to the many charities and good causes in the town. To quote a much used phrase on these pages, “Lyme never stops giving”.

But it’s not just about charity. I don’t know the exact figure of the number of local groups there are in the town but it must be somewhere between 60 and 80, all striving to raise money to keep their clubs and societies going.

As generous as Lyme Regis Town Council has been in recent times, they cannot continue to give financial help to everyone who seeks it. And we should not forget that there are many in the town, certainly a majority, that do not belong to any group or ever intend to be.

One of them stopped me recently as posed the question: “Why should I – through my council tax payments – give money so people can enjoy an activity that I have no interest in and which does not benefit me in any way?” He had a point.

There has also been a few caustic comments around about the town council putting their council tax precept up by four per cent (around £12,000), affecting all householders in Lyme, and then giving away £80,000 in grants.

One other issue which is causing concern is maintaining the voluntary effort for some of the town’s long serving organisations. In many cases, the main officers in such groups have been doing the job for decades and are looking to step down.

The big question is – are there enough willing volunteers to step up to the plate and take over?

‘Amazing’ – the only word for Dexter

IN sports journalism there’s a tendancy to overdo the superlatives when describing outstanding physical achievements.

In describing seven-year-old Dexter Weldin, who lives in Uplyme, having won a gold medal in the recent Taekwondo Championships in London, we settled for “amazing”. I don’t think too many who know this inspirational young man would argue.

His success at such a tender age in this most disciplined of sports has won him an invitation to train with the GB Taekwondo team in Manchester next month.

Dexter’s parents, Sophie and Paul Weldin, are justifiably proud of their son and there was no one with a bigger smile on her face when Dexter was presented with his gold medal than Sharon Ward (pictured) who runs Lyme’s Taekwondo Club with such passion and enthusiasm.

A day for all to savour.

The day I brought Greavsie to town

ONE of football’s greatest characters and deadliest goal-scorers, Jimmy Greaves, celebrated his 80th birthday this week. To mark this milestone, his many admirers, especially in Fleet Street, are campaigning for him to be knighted.

Jimmy is not in good health these days and there are few football aficionados who would deny him this honour – especially me.

Whilst working in London I spent five very enjoyable years as a vice-president at Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club and bumped into Jimmy on a number of occasions.

Jimmy, of course, was Spurs’ highest ever goalscorer with 266 strikes to his credit as well as notching us 257 goals for England. His greatest disappointment was missing out on England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad through injury.

I first met Jimmy when I was one of the organisers of a summer sporting festival in the 1980s to raise money to build a new pavilion at the King George V playing field in Uplyme for the cricket club.

One of the events we organised was a Soccer Symposium with Jimmy as the main guest. He spoke with passion about the game he loved and also emotionally on his struggles with alcohol.

I chaired the gathering and I remember when a question was put to Jimmy by a well-known local football manager about some technical coaching issue. Jimmy was obviously irked by this. He took a big sigh and then whispered in my ear: “I hate bloody coaches. They are ruining this game.”

Jimmy, of course, was brimming with natural talent and I doubt whether he learned anything from coaching sessions.

He went on to have a glittering career in television and football punditry and remains to this day one of the most idolised characters in the football world – and that’s why they are queuing up for him to be become Sir Jimmy Greaves.

Sad demise of Axminster Carpets

SO sad to hear this week that Axminster Carpets has fallen into administration with the loss of jobs for 90 members of staff, some of whom had been with the firm all their working life.

I got to know Harry Dutfield, the founder of Axminster Carpets, well when I was a young reporter. To be truthful I was a bit scared of him. He was a big man in every sense of the word, but I quickly warmed to him when I helped him write his life story and soon came to realise what an incredible character he was.

Harry was a tough taskmaster but a generous and sympathetic boss and hundreds of his employees down the years had cause to witness his many acts of kindness.

The manufacture of quality carpets has been in decline for many years and its ultimate demise was probably inevitable, despite recent monumental efforts to stay in business.

Axminster Carpets put the town of Axminster on the world map and the town is all the poorer for its demise.

Woodmead Halls
About Philip Evans 642 Articles
Veteran journalist and newspaper manager Philip Evans has worked in the publishing industry for more than half a century. He started out as a reporter for Pulman’s Weekly News as a young man and went on to work for an international publishing company in the UK, South Africa and Australia before returning to Lyme Regis where he is still reporting on local events as he has done for more than 53 years.

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