I HAD the honour and privilege to be chairman of Torbay Council for the civic year 2013/2014.
The chairman is the civic and ceremonial leader of the Bay while the mayor is the political and business development leader.
My first, and most important, duty was to chair full council meetings.
My theme was 'What we do well in the Bay', and I really enjoyed being able to support and promote so many of the excellent events and occasions which often pass without note in the public's mind.
It's difficult to come up with a list of favourites, as I didn't attend a single duff event in the 300-plus events and meetings which I attended, so if yours is not here then this is due to strict editorial limits! I tried to include every single event I attended on the website I set up for the year — www.chairmanjulien.com — which is still available, and which was just one of the innovations I introduced during my civic year.
So, in no particular order, here goes:
1 The launch of the Paignton Poppy Appeal at St Andrews Church, not least because I got to hear the Jubilee Choir's performance of We Will Stand Again, which Jane Anderson Brown arranged for my civic church service.
Our local Royal British Legion branches do so much to help ex-service people and their families, it was an honour to support all of their events.
2 Burns Night with the Torquay and District Scottish Society. There's no way I could compete with Robert Burns, so I gave my speech entirely in Cockney rhyming slang.
3 ATC Sunday was a chance to support all those young people who support the chairman throughout the year, providing guards of honour, with army and navy cadets, at civic and other events.
I also supported the ATC by doing the Boxing Day Dip, but only came second in the money-raising stakes.
4 We attended quite a few pantomimes and performances, from the TOADS to Torquay Boys' and Churston Grammar Schools, from Paignton Panto to Pirates of the Currybean at Ellacombe Academy, but it was at Brixham I was hoodwinked into going onstage to perform waltzes and hip-hop with the Ugly Sisters.
5 Competitors, their families, sponsors, TV, radio and print media converged on Torquay for the now annual Miss England event, which is beamed worldwide.
It was also an honour to accompany Miss England, Miss World, Mr England and Mr World when they presented Torbay Holiday Helpers Network with a mobile home to provide respite holidays for children and their families, bought with money raised entirely during the Miss England Finals.
6 I visited many residential homes throughout my year, but the 25 years of Walmer House event sticks in my mind, probably because it's in my own ward of Ellacombe.
I visited on Christmas Day for a resident's 100th birthday, but this thanksgiving service celebrated 25 years of care.
7 The Harvest of the Sea service at All Saints Church, Brixham, was is the culmination of the huge Festival of the Sea held in the port.
The church was decked out in trawler nets and pennants/flags and examples of Brixham's sea heritage. All the primary schools in the area contributed decorations, too, and the church looked breathtaking.
8 The Rowcroft Christmas Carol Service was at the Buckfast Abbey, with standing room only, and was a combination of the celebration of the season and remembrance of loved ones, made all the more special by being in such magnificent surroundings.
9 Opening of the Torbay Voluntary Service drug rehab centre in Torquay left me with high hopes.
This centre is run by people who've actually managed to get themselves clean from drugs and alcohol and are truly committed to helping others do the same.
10 At Mencap's tenth anniversary I met with lots of older carers and talked to them about the work they do supporting family members and, in particular, the huge contribution they make by saving money which would otherwise come out of public funds.
Of course, there are so many more events I would have liked to include: the thousands of people I welcomed from cruise ships; conferences and exhibitions at the Riviera International Conference Centre and elsewhere; representing the Bay at events outside the area; civic events… the list could go on and on.
My sincere and heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who works so hard for others, often without it seeming to be appreciated or recognised. You all make the Bay such a very special place.