The town council welcomes our new Business Development Officer, Louise Hughes, who took on her new rôle this week. Louise joins us at an especially busy time when we are setting next year’s budget and reviewing our accountancy procedures and investments. As we navigate the day-to-day affairs of the Council and plan for the future, dividing the responsibilities of Town Clerk and finance manager is an important step forward that will deliver real benefits.

It was great to hear that 7 year old Megan Goodwin (pictured with parkrun’s Edric Hobbs), a pupil at St Paul’s School, won the top volunteering prize at the “Believe in Somerset” awards. Megan has been a junior marshal at 40 of Shepton’s Saturday morning parkruns, and has been rightly recognised for her brilliant stewarding and her encouragement to the hundreds of weekly runners (and walkers) of all ages and abilities.

Last year our parkrun ambassador and local councillor, Edric Hobbs, won the Believe in Somerset award for Shepton’s (then new) parkrun. Since its inception the parkrun has gone from strength to strength. It’s a brilliant community event with real health benefits. Young and old, athletes to casual walkers, turn out, rain or shine, for this free, weekly, timed and marshalled 5 kilometre run. Shepton parkrun is always seeking more adults (and children) to give up an hour of their time to help this wonderful weekly community event thrive.

Megan wasn’t the only star in Shepton to shine at the Believe in Somerset awards. Our Sunday Markets were nominated in the best Community Event category. Since the launch of our monthly market, the town council has assisted financially and given officer time to help develop this brilliant regular event. Many councillors have also donated copious hours to help to make it a success with Helen Reader and Garfield Kennedy particularly active, and Zena Pollard and Mike Perry ever present to help organise traders.

Both the parkrun and Sunday Market demonstrate just how much we rely on volunteers and strong community support to help regenerate the town. One noticeable benefit of all this effort is the remarkable achievement of Shepton having the lowest number of empty shops in many years.

Coming up this weekend, we have our first three day Christmas Market. From Friday to Sunday we will have the chance to buy Christmas presents with a local flavour and enjoy lots of festive cheer. The town council is again supporting this special market by sponsoring entertainment and helping Father Christmas fill his sack with gifts.

Shepton deserves all the accolades it is receiving, recognising all the individuals in the community working with the council to make the town a great place to live, work in and visit. It’s something we will build on in 2019 and beyond!

Chris Inchley, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council