As we approach the festive season and reflect on the year gone by, I am filled with gratitude and joy to serve as your 30th Mayor of Brentwood.
Throughout the year, I've had the pleasure of participating in various events, fostering a strong sense of unity and togetherness across our cherished Borough. From launching the Summer Fete at my old school, St Peter's in South Weald, to the Ingatestone & Fryerning Summer Show, and witnessing memorable occasions such as the service of remembrance for the American Airmen in West Horndon, Brentwood Town’s triumph in the FA Cup Preliminaries, and the triumphant opening game of Brentwood Rugby Club’s season at King George’s, these have been truly inspiring highlights from my Mayoral tenure so far. Among these, one of my favourite and most memorable moment was the Can in a Van donation drive for the Brentwood Food Bank and Daily Bread Café. Here, the generous food donation from a young shopper touched our hearts, exemplifying the compassion and generosity that defines Brentwood. The dedication and passion displayed by our local community in such endeavours reflect the true spirit of Brentwood, making our Borough, quite frankly, brilliant!
As Mayor, I am grateful for the numerous opportunities I have had this year. I take particular pride in our Remembrance Day parade, where hundreds of people lined the streets of Brentwood to express their respect for those who sacrificed their lives for our country. The parade, superbly led by the Brentwood Imperial Youth Band, started at Brentwood Town Hall and saw nearly 600 members of our Armed Forces; Army, Navy and Air Force, Veterans, Cadets, Essex Police, Essex Fire Service, Scouts and Guides, members of our public services and local charitable organisations proudly march down Middleton Hall Lane towards the war memorial at the junction with Shenfield Road.
Having grown up in Brentwood, it’s an absolute privilege to be your Mayor and support valuable local causes. Christmas is a time for giving and it would be remiss of me not to mention the three charities that I am supporting during my mayoral term. During this season of hope and joy, I extend my sincere thanks for all that they do. Firstly, Daily Bread, a volunteer led organisation founded in our community, is actively addressing food poverty and providing assistance to those challenged by the cost-of-living crisis. Secondly, the YMCA Thames Gateway Group is creating opportunities for some of our most vulnerable residents by offering support with housing and a pathway to independent accommodation and work. Lastly, the Brentwood and District Branch of the Royal British Legion, with a history spanning over a century in our Borough, acknowledges our town’s military history and honours our local servicemen and women. Their continued role in Brentwood’s civic life deserves the highest degree of respect.
In the New Year, I will continue to fundraise for my chosen charities. An event I am particularly excited about is the Brentwood Half Marathon which will be held in March 2024, where I will be running alongside some fellow councillors to raise funds for these important causes. Your encouragement and sponsorship will undoubtedly make a significant difference, and I am grateful for your support.
Earlier this month was my Civic Carol Service event, a wonderful tradition that always gets everyone in the festive mood. Everyone brought an amazing and infectious Christmas spirit to St Peter’s Church and the choir performed traditional carols, of which the audience joined in.
One of the most difficult judging roles of the Mayoral year is the Christmas card and Christmas poem competition. This initiative invites children from across the borough to showcase their creativity by submitting their finest drawings for the card's front and writing a poem for the message inside. I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations once again to Joshua, Seb, and Kendra. Kendra also had the honour of reading her winning poem at the Mayor's Christmas Carol Service.
We would like to recognise the hard work of organisations and locals, who have continued to help others and make Brentwood a better place. The Civic awards serve as a platform to honour those who have gone the extra mile for their community, shown bravery or who have excelled in their work in the Borough. These awards are a great way of recognising their achievements and celebrating their commitment. If you know someone deserving of this recognition, help me acknowledge their hard work by nominating them for Citizen of the Year at www.brentwood.gov.uk/CivicAwardsNomination.
We have an exciting year ahead and as your Mayor, I look forward to meeting more amazing people and organisations in the coming year. If you have a community group or organisation event, please feel free to extend an invitation and I will do my best to join you! You can reach out by emailing email@example.com
As we move into 2024, let's carry forward the spirit of hope and optimism. I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a healthy and peaceful New Year!
Cllr Gareth Barrett
Mayor of Brentwood Borough Council