LONG-SERVING Lyme Regis macebearer Derek Hallett has been honoured as he retires from the role.
Mr Hallett was first appointed a macebearer during Ken Dibben’s office of mayor from 2001 to 2003. Since then, he has gone on the serve five further mayors, including the late Barbara Austin and Ken Whetlor, Sally Holman, Michaela Ellis and the incumbent Brian Larcombe.
He was appointed Sargeant of Mace – the lead macebearer – in 2017 following the retirement of Colin Barker.
The voluntary role of macebearers accompanying the Mayor of Lyme Regis at civic occasions can be traced back in history.
By Royal Charter, the Mayor and Corporation of the Borough of Lyme Regis were granted authority to manage the town on behalf of the king.
As a symbol of that authority, the borough was entitled to have ceremonial maces to be carried before the mayor by the macebearers, who were in attendance to protect and defend the honour of the First Citizen.
In 1757 the silver maces were presented to the borough by Thomas Fane to celebrate the appointment of his son, John, as Mayor of Lyme Regis.
To this day, the two identical George II silver maces are carried at the head of civic processions by the town’s macebearers.
As well as serving as a macebearer for more than 20 years, Mr Hallett is well-known in Lyme Regis as the town’s former dog warden, and he also served as a town councillor for several years before moving to Seaton.
In one of his last official duties as the Mayor of Lyme Regis, Cllr Brian Larcombe MBE paid tribute to Mr Hallett at this week’s council meeting and presented him with an inscribed town crest.
Cllr Larcombe also thanked Mr Hallett’s partner Susanne Whitemore for her support and presented the couple with a voucher for dinner at the Alexandra Hotel.
Cllr Larcombe commented: “A former employee of the council, macebearer for over 20 years, Sergeant of Mace, and a former councillor – an incredible service to Lyme Regis and its council.
“His diligence as dog warden and enforcement is well-known – I’d have to say almost legendary! His no-nonsense approach, ‘firm but fair’ and steadfast was of real benefit with the cleanliness and safety of the streets and walkways of Lyme and its seafront his first priority.
“He gave the same passion and commitment to his macebearing duties, honouring tradition, and paying respect to the historic nature of the role.
“He gave the same determined approach to his time as a councillor; a role he held with the same conviction given to his council employment and macebearing duties.
“It’s a privilege to present you with these two gifts to mark the service you’ve given to Lyme and its council, and a personal pleasure for me and Wendy to thank you for your support and macebearing, with Susanne’s input too, during our time as mayor and mayoress.”
Mr Hallett thanked Cllr Larcombe and said it had been an honour to serve him and previous mayors.
Heather Britton now serves as Sargeant of Mace – the town’s first female macebearer – with three other volunteers to support her at events.