As we approach Christmas and the end of 2023 it is a good opportunity to reflect on the year. With the economic and cost-of-living challenges closer to home, the communities in Warwick have continued to show resilience, support for each other and a determination to succeed.
I began my Mayoral year in May, and from the beginning I have been determined to embrace this opportunity with the energy, engagement and pride that the role deserves. I have been endlessly impressed by the number and variety of charities, organisations and community groups who along with businesses and the Town Council, sustain the town and contribute to its unique character. Warwick proves again and again that it is a fantastic town to live, work, go to school in or visit.
A vibrant community is also one which respects its traditions, and this year we have witnessed Warwick return to its active best, following the pandemic. It was an honour to turn on the Christmas lights at this year’s 40th anniversary of our fabulous Victorian Evening. Both the BBC and ITV regional news programmes covered the event, and it was good to see so many favourites return including the carousel, fairground organ, helter-skelter, steam-train and Punch & Judy, along with the fantastic range of stalls offering everything from gifts to mulled wine. It was also a pleasure on the evening to visit our essential, varied and popular small businesses in town, particularly those on Smith Street, and in and around the Market Square.
This year’s Christmas Tree festival in St Mary’s Church was also a huge success with over sixty organisations and individuals contributing an amazing range of decorated trees.
Another success of the year has been the re-opening of the Lord Leycester Hospital in August, which followed eighteen months of refurbishment. It really is well worth a visit, to learn about the rich history of the site and to enjoy the new café.
The famous Warwick Folk Festival saw a successful second year at its new site near Warwick Castle. I look forward to seeing the festival become even more firmly established on the national folk scene, continuing to attract new and exciting acts, and drawing in even more visitors.
I am currently looking at ways in which organisers and planners behind our hugely exciting and diverse range of arts and culture events across the town, can collaborate more and increase the scope and effectiveness of Warwick’s offering in the arts and culture space. With the collective support of local partners and key organisations in our town I hope the benefits of these endeavours will be realised in the first half of next year.
It was great to see Eurocamp return to Warwick this year too, welcoming young people from our twinning and friendship towns in France, Germany and Italy. The camp benefited everyone who took part, and it demonstrated what an outward-looking and welcoming town Warwick is.
During December, on small business Saturday I spent the day with Father Christmas and was astounded by the warm welcome we received from the public and business owners alike. It was a truly memorable day and one I really enjoyed. And the same was true for a subsequent Saturday when I was in the Market Square helping to raise funds towards the Christmas lights for next year! Many thanks to all the local businesses who have been very generous with their sponsorship for the Christmas lights – it’s very much appreciated.
It is an absolute honour to be the mayor and I will do everything I can in the remaining months of my civic year to promote our wonderful town.
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for 2024.
Councillor Oliver Jacques
Mayor of Warwick 2023-2024