Christmas Community Local News

Mayor of Test Valley: Christmas Message 2021

Here is this years Christmas message from TVBC mayor councillor Mark Cooper

Looking back over 2021 I can unequivocally state that it has been a memorable and busy year for the Mayoress and me. In May, after 35 years as a Test Valley Councillor, my colleagues persuaded me out of the relative comfort of the back benches to serve as Chairman of the Council and as your Borough Mayor.

And not just memorable. It has been a strange year, too. Lockdown; social isolation; trudging local footpaths as one’s daily recreation; working from home for many of us, facilitated by long Teams meetings; and family interactions courtesy of Zoom and Facetime. And then a gradual return of optimism and hope, landmarked as the months passed by the first, second and booster vaccinations, each signposting a gradual return to relative normality.

On behalf of all the residents in Test Valley, I thank the scientists for delivering those vaccines in record time and I thank all the doctors, nurses, hospital staff and care workers who have kept going under the most onerous of pressures. School teachers have pressed on throughout the pandemic and have minimised the potential damage to our children’s education. Indeed, it is remarkable that goods and food supplies have continued to flow, albeit with much more reliance on internet and delivery services. It says much about human adaptability and resilience.

One particular group I would like to single out are the Test Valley refuse collectors who have not missed a beat throughout the whole 21 months of the pandemic. Thank you.

My Civic Service in Romsey Abbey, excellently co-ordinated by the Rev. Thomas Wharton, by a happy happenstance, coincided with the 4th July which was designated as “Thank You Day” across the United Kingdom. Here in Test Valley our thanks were very much focussed on volunteers and the incredible work they have undertaken through the pandemic. Volunteers helped at the vaccination clinics and kept in touch with isolated, often elderly, residents across Test Valley by running errands shopping and collecting prescriptions. A life-line in every sense.

I have been involved in recent weeks with the planting of oak trees across the Borough. Young trees were offered to the Parish Councils and each tree has a commemorative plaque in memory of all those who died in the pandemic and to recognise the community volunteer response. Additionally, in National Tree Week, Test Valley has sourced 10,000 saplings for planting across the Borough.

Over the Mayoral year my wife and I have had the pleasure and honour to meet hundreds of delightful residents while visiting voluntary groups, charitable organisations, businesses, schools, nursing and residential homes, fairs, fetes and concerts. The depth of talent across the Borough in music and choirs is truly wonderful. There have been many highlights such as the Commemorative Service at St. Mary’s, Andover, for those in the Borough who succumbed to Covid; the Test Valley Showcasing day when we invited all the Civic heads across Hampshire to tour both Mottisfont Abbey and Romsey Abbey; driving around the Army Flying Museum in a vintage car at Wallop Wheels and Wings Day and the Service of Remembrance in Andover on 14th November.

We are fortunate to live in a generally happy and cohesive society. At this time of the year many of us are focussed on celebrations, family and friends. But remember, too, there are still many people who live among us who are challenged by age, infirmity, financial hardship and loneliness. If you have a neighbour who might be in that situation please do offer a helping hand and a friendly voice. My wife, Sue and I wish you a safe and happy Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year.2