Mayor of Bishop Auckland, Councillor Katie Eliot reflects on the year 2021 and shares her Christmas message with the Town.
It goes without saying that 2021 been challenging for everyone, as the coronavirus pandemic has continued to impact upon everyone’s daily lives. My sympathy goes to the families who have lost loved ones or endured long periods of separation.
Since becoming Mayor, I have been I have been truly amazed at the kindness and generosity of those living and working within our town. It was lovely to join with the Lord Lieutenant Mrs Sue Snowdon to commemorate the first NHS and Front Line Workers Day in July, where we were able to give thanks to those who have worked tirelessly on the frontline as we fight this pandemic. The tenacity and courage which they show was one of the reason which I have selected the NHS County Durham and Darlington – specifically Bishop Auckland Hospital to as my chosen charity for the year.
Whilst 2021 started with a continued lockdown, it has been nice for some ‘normality’ to resume and our businesses to reopen after adapting to the changing landscape. The return of the Food Festival brought people back into town, and the opening of the Spanish Art Gallery has brought another great building back to life. The refurbished Town Hall has brought a range of activities to the community, including the excellent ‘Through Soldiers Eyes’ exhibition which brought together an exceptional showcase of art work from veterans from our town and county.
We had planned a magical Christmas weekend in partnership with the Bridge Creative, Baccanalia and The Auckland Project and we were so disappointed that parts of the programme were cancelled due to Storm Arwen. Whilst faced with some disappointment, Bishop Auckland weathered the storm fairly well compared to other areas. We did face areas of damage, including the loss of historic trees in the Deer Park and some homes were without power for a significant period of time. However we were very fortunate that a full weekend programme enabled 800 children to visit Santa that weekend, and the dry weather on the Sunday enabled the Christmas market and street entertainment to resume bringing some much needed merriment to town.
As the year draws to a close, I remain hopeful for 2022. We have lots to look forward to including the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations developments at Weardale Railway, the opening of the Castle and Faith Museum, as well as projects from the multi million pound Future High Street Fund and Stronger Towns Fund. All of these things combined with the fantastic people of the town make the future of Bishop Auckland very exciting.
On behalf of Bishop Auckland Town Council, my fellow Councillors and Town Council Officers, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and above all a healthy 2022.