September 15, 2014
In photos: Michael Eavis presents Burnham-On-Sea Civic Awards

Glastonbury Festival organiser Michael Eavis was the VIP guest who presented Civic Awards to four residents from Burnham and Highbridge to recognise their work in the community during the town's annual Civic Service on Sunday (September 14th).

Mark and Sara Cox-Conklin from Burnham's Swim and Sports Academy and Tony and Sue Merrett from Highbridge Monarchs Gymnastics Club received their awards in front of a congregation of over 200 people.

The service was preceded by a special procession by local dignitaries through the town centre from The Princess Theatre to St Andrew's Church.

The Mayor of Burnham and Highbridge, Cllr Martin Cox, led Sunday's ceremony and praised the two couple for their "commitment and dedication to the community over many years."

Sara and Mark Cox-Conklin, pictured right, received their awards for their work in saving Burnham's swimming pool from the axe six years ago and then transforming it into the thriving Burnham Swim and Sports Academy. The couple took on the pool when Sedgemoor District Council intended to close it in 2008 due to budget cuts.

"In the ensuing years, due entirely to their vision and determination they have made an enormous success of this Academy," said the Mayor.

"They not only brought this old facility up to modern requirements at great expense, but have also added to it over the years with a fitness centre and various outdoor activities; all facilities for keeping people fit. The pool is now the hub for many activities."

Sue and Tony Merrett received their Civic Awards for their work in running Highbridge-based Monarchs Acrobatic Gymnastics Club. They have given huge amounts of their time and expertise over the last 15 years with youngsters of all ages.

"Working tirelessly to raise funds and recruit young people, they have also given encouragement and regular training sessions to the children. The club's members have consistently reached high standards that have enabled them to compete locally, nationality and internationally," said Cllr Cox.

Sue's daughter, Mandy Warburton, received the award with Tony, right, because she was unable to attend.

Sunday's Civic Service was led by Rev Graham Witts and included readings by Juliet Cox, Cllr Neville Jones and Sharon, Eloise and Ruby Davis plus musical entertainment.

There were two powerful performances by Highbridge singer Gypsy Watkins, pictured below with Michael Eavis, who wowed the audience with her rendition of 'Nessun Dorma', the well-known aria from the final act of Puccini's opera.

Flute players from Burnham-based group Flutation gave a magical performance of 'Flutation' by Clare Grundman and 'Anitra's Dance' from Peer Gynt by Grieg.

John Strickland, from North Sedgemoor History Group, gave an amusing speech on ten things you never knew about Burnham and Highbridge.

After hymns and prayers the service ended with a stirring performance by Wells City Band and the singing of the national anthem.

It was followed by a Civic Reception at The Princess Theatre where a special Past Mayor's Badge was awarded to Cllr Neville Jones for his considerable civic efforts for the two towns over several decades.

Flowers and a original painting of the town's beach and lighthouse by Burnham artist Michael Squire were presented by the Mayor and Mayoress Arlene Cox to Michael Eavis to thank him for his attendance.

Mr Eavis told he'd "greatly enjoyed" the visit. He added: "It was very nice to be invited along - I do love Burnham. I have long family connections with the town and frequently visit for walks along your wonderful beach."

A procession by local dignitaries took place through the town centre

A team from Burnham's BARB Search & Rescue was invited to lead the procession

Michael Eavis with vicar Reverend Graham Witts and the Mayor and Mayoress

Rescue services represented at the special service included Burnham Police plus BARB Search & Rescue, Burnham RNLI and Burnham Coastguard

High Sheriff of Somerset, Richard Lloyd, with Mr Eavis and the Mayoral couple

Mr Eavis with Burnham Police Community Support Officers at the event

Mr Eavis receiving a painting of the town's beach and lighthouse

Cllr Neville Jones receiving a Past Mayor's Badge for his work over the decades

Mr Eavis with the teams from The Princess and Town Council

Councillors with their partners and former Town Clerk Eileen Shaw at the event


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