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2015 has been a busy year for Melksham Town Council, with a calendar full of community events, activities and civic occasions.
Town clerk Stephen Gray said, “Our Assembly Hall continued to prove that we have the venue and audience to attract high quality live entertainment to the town. Performances from Des O’Connor, Seann Walsh, Rob Beckett, Marty Wilde, Derek Acorah, Andy Parsons and Colin Fry took place during the year and proved hugely popular.
“Movies at Melksham also continued to provide a cinema experience for our community to enjoy. The Assembly Hall’s cinema quality digital projector, retractable full size screen and state-of-the-art Dolby sound system has been seen to good effect with featured films such as Mr Turner, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, and the Second Best Marigold Hotel all drawing audience numbers well into three figures.
“Party in the Park, complete with live entertainment, dramatic displays and spectacular fireworks, together with Melksham Carnival, which paraded a feast of colour and sound through our streets, was an absolute highlight of the summer. Congratulations to the respective organising committees for bringing these fantastic events to fruition.
“Melksham’s flowers were seen to best effect during the summer and the Melksham in Bloom competition categories were fiercely contested. Our congratulations go to everyone for their horticultural achievements and floral displays that were so magnificently exhibited by residents and businesses within our community. In addition to enhancing the environment, the floral displays serve to encourage a sense of individual and community pride and we are all grateful for their efforts which do so much to make Melksham such an attractive town.
“Moreover, the Britain in Bloom South West judges who visited us in July were immensely impressed with the voluntary involvement, cleanliness and community pride in Melksham; with businesses, schools, councils, residents and groups all working together to show off the town in the best possible light.
“Thanks to some excellent support from the Town Team and the fantastic Tidy Town volunteers, Melksham was the proud recipient of a Silver Gilt Award in this year’s competition, and congratulations are due to the Bloom in Melksham Committee for orchestrating this outstanding achievement.
“The town council entered into an exciting collaborative arrangement with Lackham College during the year, providing opportunities for students to assist with tangible work-based projects in the town as part of their curriculum. Improvements to flower beds in the Market Place and the restoration of the pond in the Prince of Wales Garden have been completed and the students are now working on recreating a pathway from St Michael’s Church to the grounds of Melksham House.
“The nationwide reputation for Melksham’s Comic Con continues to grow with hundreds of people coming to the town from places as far away for a fabulous weekend of comic book and sci-fi culture.
“The Melksham Food and River Festival took place for the first time in this guise in September at King George V Park. Blessed with glorious weather, the event proved outstandingly popular with thousands of people turning out to enjoy the many stalls and activities.
“In October the town council recognised the outstanding work of the various groups and organisations who contribute so much to our community at its annual grants presentation evening. In total 45 groups received funding totalling some £33,500 from Melksham Town Council towards initiatives and projects that will serve to benefit our community.
“December also saw the annual Young People’s Awards hosted by Young Melksham and supported by the town council. A packed out Assembly Hall enjoyed an inspiring and heart-warming evening recognising and celebrating the achievements of many young people who take on great challenges, overcome difficulties, and contribute immensely to our community’s well being.
“Also in December we all marvelled at the creativity and hard work of Paul Weymouth and the fantastic Christmas Lights Group for the spine tingling Christmas Lights switch-on and Christmas Fayre.
“Once again Melksham’s Christmas Lights are unparalleled in Wiltshire and it is a testament to their popularity that the High Street and Market Place were closed for the first time this year to accommodate the thousands of people who came along to experience this magical event.
“Congratulations to Paul and the Christmas Lights team for giving everyone such a marvellous day and for the joy and pleasure that their hard work and efforts will bring throughout the festive season. The voluntary dedication continued at Christmas, with the Core Church’s annual Christmas dinner provided free for people who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day.
“To support the hundreds of voluntary hours, Melksham businesses again gave generously to the Melksham Christmas Lights. Local traders have also supported the Young People’s awards, prizes for competitions, refreshments for volunteer Tidy Town Days and sponsorship of litter bins and floral displays through the town.
“Our local businesses also continued to provide creative window displays, an ongoing commitment recognised by the Town Team with the seasonal Best Looking Business Award and the best Christmas Window Display awarded by the town council.
“Finally, any review of the year must reflect on the kindness and generosity of Melksham people which was so dramatically illustrated with the amount of clothes, goods and equipment that were donated by local residents to care for and support the refugees from Syria whose lives have been so tragically affected by events in their homeland.
“The scale of the donations made was simply stunning by any standard and was proof positive that our small town has a massively big heart.
“As we look to the year ahead there is much to anticipate. The calendar of excellent Melksham highlights – including Party in the Park, Carnival, Melksham in Bloom, Melksham Comic Con and the Food and River Festival will be eagerly anticipated, together with some new and exciting events next year.
“Her Majesty the Queen will celebrate her 90th birthday in 2016 and plans are already afoot to hold a tea party in King George V Park on June 12th, so that the Melksham community can join in with the national celebrations.
“People who have contributed their time and skill to the community in Melksham will be recognised with the annual Civic Awards early in the year, complemented by the Youth Awards at the end of the year.
“The redevelopment of the Market Place will go ahead as a precursor to the creation of the new community campus facility.
“The Market Place has been designed to provide through movements for traffic to Melksham Campus; create a high quality public space in the centre of the town where people can congregate for social, leisure and community activities; improve the pedestrian environment; and enhance and preserve the historic character and appearance of the town.
“Also enhancing the town are the regular Tidy Town Days, on the first Sunday of every month, by the Town Team and the Bloom in Melksham group.
“As well as keeping Melksham tidy, the group will be looking to include more businesses and groups in the floral planting scheme throughout town, and there will be more opportunities to sponsor hanging baskets and planters full of flowers in Melksham.
“But these are challenging times. While the financial pressures faced by Wiltshire Council will undoubtedly impact upon the level of services we receive, town councillors are committed to working hard for Melksham, generating efficiencies and utilising resources effectively for our town.
“Working with the many groups, volunteers, businesses, schools and individuals who give so much to the community, the town council is committed to enhancing the quality of local life; raising the profile of our fantastic friendly town; and striving to keep it a great place to live, work and visit.”