As you may know, becoming Mayor comes with the task of using the term for fundraising for a chosen local charity. My choice was EnviroAbility, which most of you will be aware of as doing important work with some of the most vulnerable, particularly in offering them more positive life and work experiences.

Fundraising was particularly challenging currently against a backcloth of a cost of living crisis with the significant impact that is having on living standards on households up and down the UK.

Inflationary pressures are also eroding charitable giving with some evidence that donation levels are less strong than previously with fewer people giving to charity. This is being exacerbated by the squeeze on household budgets.

So, it is with some trepidation that I started on my fund-raising quest on the 10th with my Soak the Stark event in the Market Square. This involved myself and a few other foolhardy Councillor volunteers subjecting ourselves to being put in a set of pillories and encouraging anyone with a love of politicians to pelt us with wet sponges.

In medieval times, pillories were set-up in public places such as marketplaces or crossroads and were often placed on platforms to increase public visibility of the person. Often, the crime was advertised nearby and punishment lasted a few hours. Hence, the obvious choice of setting ours up at the top of the stairs under our Market House for 3 hours. Also born out of this practice was the term “to be pilloried”, meaning subject to punishment, although at this stage I think I can hear some of you sucking on eggs like your grandmother!

While footfall was somewhat erratic during the 3 hours we were in the pillories, we made a very solid start to my fund-raising exceeding £350. The next stage is to talk to EnviroAbility about maintaining momentum and come up with a dynamic programme of events.