Bodmin’s new Mayor and Deputy Mayor were officially appointed at the annual meeting and Mayor Choosing Ceremony, held at St Petroc’s Church on Thursday 19th May.
The Bodmin Town Council records will now show Cllr Phil Cooper as Mayor of Bodmin and Cllr Mike Barbery as Deputy Mayor, a document that lists the Mayors of Bodmin since 1201 AD.
Bodmin’s previous Mayor, Cllr Jeremy Cooper began his address by stating he had ‘a lot of things to say about some fantastic people’ - and that he certainly did! It was clear that there is some incredible work being carried out by many wonderful organisations and individuals that are contributing to a positive and thriving community in Bodmin.
Cllr Cooper began by thanking his wife, Nicola, for all her support and incredible fundraising efforts, which notably has included a very successful weekly Bingo evening. Nicola, along with her volunteers, with their charmingly whimsical title, ‘The Barmy Bingo Army’ intend to continue these evenings after Cllr Cooper’s time as Mayor, to continue to raise money for local organisations. In Cllr Cooper’s first term as Mayor, Nicola had already fundraised nearly £10,000 and by the end of his third term, their fundraising total had reached an impressive £28,569.16.
The event saw the presentation of cheques to Cllr Cooper’s chosen charities which were: The Cove – Macmillan Support Centre, who received a cheque for £4,500; Mind Cornwall who received £4,000 and Bodmin Relief in Need (BRiN) who received £5,750 from the Mayor and an additional donation from the Bodmin Wassailers, a group upholding a tradition that has been part of the town since 1624.
Sporting achievements were also celebrated at the ceremony. Special mentions were given to Bodmin Netball Club, Bodmin Walking Netball, Bodmin Town Football Club and a young, rising tennis star, Lily Young. Lily’s latest achievements include being the 2022 Winner of the LTA Young person for Cornwall and the 2022 LTA Tennis Leader Award, as well as selflessly giving up her free time to cultivate the next generation of tennis players in Bodmin. These inspiring clubs and individuals were all hugely congratulated and admired; however, the Mayor’s Special Achievement award went to Bodmin Rugby Football Club for their incredibly successful year.
Amongst the list of people being commended for their work in the community was Rachael Sharman and Sarah Horne, who received ‘Outstanding Volunteer’ awards. Rachael has been part of Bodmin Boxing Club for 21 years and when she was just 17 she became the youngest female amateur boxing coach in the country. She has provided a supportive and positive environment to people interested in the sport, particularly for young people and women. Sarah has dedicated a significant amount of time to the community, painting benches, improving flower beds, coordinating the Tour of Britain bikes display and working with Plastic Free Bodmin and the Bodmin Tidy it Team.
The ‘Team Spirit’ award went to the Bodmin Hospital League of Friends and the ‘Community Service Award’ went to Bodmin Food Bank, which now provides food for more than 40 families.
Cllr Debbie Henderson began the election of the new Mayor by proposing Cllr Phil Cooper, telling stories of his personal and professional achievements and describing him as a modest, hard-working and caring person who will continue to put ‘the heart back into Bodmin’.
Bodmin’s new Deputy Mayor, Cllr Barbery, was proposed by Cllr Karen Phillips. Cllr Phillips listed words that best described him, which were ‘generous, kind, fun loving, honesty and integrity’.
As the ceremony came to a close, outgoing mayor, Cllr Jeremy Cooper, said it had been a ‘privilege’ to serve as Mayor of Bodmin, adding that he was particularly proud of the Rifle’s Retreat and the council’s delivery of the Tour of Britain event. He acknowledged that in his time, the council has overcome challenges that he hopes have helped to develop a ‘stronger, more transparent and resilient council’, a council that puts the needs of the community first by always asking, ‘Does this benefit Bodmin?’.
As the community says a huge thank you to Cllr Jeremy Cooper, with his three terms of dedicated service coming to an end, it’s time to congratulate Bodmin’s new Mayor and Deputy Mayor.
Mayor Cllr Phil Cooper said: “As many of you will know, I am a Bodmin boy and proud of my heritage. I am sure you can imagine how privileged I feel to be the newly elected Mayor of Bodmin, the County Town.
“I would like to thank my fellow councillors for putting their faith and trust in me by selecting me as Mayor for the coming year, my wife Carolyn - the new Mayoress - and I will continue to do our very best to promote Bodmin and serve our community.
“The year ahead will be an important one for the future of our town. As a council we have ambitious aims and objectives. The recent Charette and the ongoing work by the Neighbourhood Plan steering group will help provide vital evidence to assist us as a council in partnership with our fantastic community to create bids for drawing down significant sums of external funding. This will be vital, to enable delivery. We will only achieve this if we work together as a team. The community and Bodmin Town Council will need the support and influence of our county councillors and our MP.
“The challenges and subsequent successes will come through in a steady stream throughout the year. We will start with the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and I don't think anywhere in the county can match what Bodmin is putting on. The progression of works on Shire House Suite and Hall, obtaining planning permission for a new cemetery, lighting for the skate park, new toilets for fair park, new accommodation for the estates team and equipment should all be deliverable in the not too distant future. “I look forward to working with and supporting you all at team Bodmin throughout the year in my capacity as Mayor. Together we can make this a very significant one, for our town and community.”
Deputy Mayor Cllr Barbery is also excited to begin serving the town in his new role. He said: “Firstly, I would like to congratulate Cllr Phil Cooper on being elected as Bodmin Town Mayor. I very much look forward to working with him over the coming year as his Deputy.
“It is my absolute pleasure to be elected as Deputy Mayor of our town of Bodmin. As many know, Bodmin is dear to my heart as the place I have always called home. Over the years the town has gone from strength to strength, and with the fantastic community spirit that we have in Bodmin and the dedicated council, I am looking forward to continuing the great work that is already happening, as well as working on other exciting future plans for the town.”
Following the Thursday ceremony, the Mayor’s Sunday Service was also held at St Petroc’s Church. Here, through clouds of incense and choral singing, Revd Paul Holley delivered a sermon on healing and hope, stressing the importance of governmental and charitable bodies’ roles in providing help and services to improve the lives of the vulnerable people within the community. To show their support of the town and our newly appointed Mayor, the service was attended by North Cornwall MP Scott Mann and the High Sheriff of Cornwall, Mr Andrew Williams.