“THE YEAR of the Bull” has been an oft-used phrase in and around Ashbourne in relation to the town’s mayor, Steve Bull during 2012.
From his ‘greatest honour’ of turning up the Wednesday ball at this year’s Royal Shrovetide Football game, to becoming Mayor ahead of celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II and the Olympic Torch being carried through the centre of Ashbourne en route to the London 2012 Games, it has been something on an epic year for Councillor Bull.
But, while he has stood proudly by to represent the town at some of the year’s most exciting events, few realise the diligent work which goes on behind the scenes.
Now, half way through a truly exciting year in the town’s history, News Telegraph reporter, NATALIE WAKEFIELD, called around to The Wheel in Compton, where Councillor Bull is landlord, to find out more.
STEVE Bull is a well-known figure in Ashbourne.
He is a stalwart Shrovetider, a longstanding member of Ashbourne Town Council and Derbyshire Dales District Council and the incumbent Ashbourne Mayor.
He is also a town centre landlord and his regulars in The Wheel are chatting as we take a seat near the bar.
The first thing he hands me is a letter and a pamphlet which someone has left with him, asking for his support.
The charity is CRUSE, a bereavement service which offers support to people who have lost a loved one.
The letter is from an Ashbourne volunteer who is appealing for his help in raising awareness of the charity’s work in the area.
He said: “It’s promoting these organisations, which need help to get their message out to the residents, that’s important.
“This is the sort of thing that we enjoy, helping promote these things.” Councillor Bull is married to Sue, who is once again Mayoress and has also, this year, joined Ashbourne Town Council.
Councillor Bull added: “Being Mayor and Mayoress is not about me and Sue being up there wearing a chain.
“It’s about being able to help promote organisations like this. God forbid any of us should need the help from CRUSE, but you never know.
“This year has been absolutely fantastic. I don’t think we’ve been quite as busy as the first time, but with the Jubilee so many events were moved to that weekend and we just couldn’t get to them all as we were focussed on Ashbourne.
“That was a massive weekend for engagements and we did have to turn some down.
“Then there was the Olympic Torch coming through the town, which was a fantastic night.
“Since September we’ve averaged about two or three engagements a week in the town and surrounding areas.
“At the civic service, which was held at St Oswald’s Church in September, we had more than 300 guests, including businesses which have supported us during this term.
“Schoolchildren from Clifton Primary School sang two songs and they were fantastic.
“There were also good presentations from the Boy’s Brigade and the Girl’s Brigade.
“We’ve been to concerts with Ashbourne Town Band, which has always been very supportive.
“We’ve also had the Remembrance services, which I’ve felt so proud to do, laying the wreath in memory of people from this town who gave their lives.
“The town council has set up a working group now to start up the Neighbourhood Plan, which we hope will be a success for residents and organisations and for our children in future years and for them to take on.
“One of my ambitions is to try and work more closely with the new headteacher at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School and sixth form. It’s brilliant that they have a school council there and it would be great to see some younger members coming through to the town council.
“We’ve just had the fireworks night and we’ve got Christmas coming up with loads going on, starting off with the lights switch on this Saturday with Donna Kellogg in the Market Place.” During the festive season alone, as Mayor, Councillor Bull and Councillor Mrs Bull will be travelling to Christmas events in Leek, Cheadle and Uttoxeter, as well as attending a host of charity events, including bazaars, luncheons and football activity days.
The pair will also be present at Ashbourne’s Christmas celebrations, which start on Saturday and conclude on Christmas Eve with carols around the Christmas tree in Market Place.
Councillor Bull said: “One of things that has been nice for me and Sue has been meeting lots of old friends from when we were Mayor and Mayoress in 2007/08 and meeting lots of new people as well.
“I wouldn’t be able to do it without Sue’s support and it’s nice to have her on board as a councillor.
“It’s been very exciting so far this year and I’m proud to be doing it.”