And all this was rounded off with an amazing lunch provided by the volunteers at the church. (If you have never been, I highly recommend the company and the cuisine!)
Below, I have reprinted the speech I gave last May, when the Town Council honoured her dedication and length of service.
Address for Barbara
Barbara Farmer was appointed to become the Town’s Mace Bearer on 2 November 1987. She has faithfully served the Town and Council since then, a period now of over 30 years. And I have the most enormous pleasure of recognising, celebrating and thanking Barbara for her dedication and long service.
Barbara’s role is a ceremonial and voluntary one - but one that she has done with exemplary skill, professionalism and panache. I know she will remember for example, accompanying the Town Mayor, Cllr Derrick Isham on the visit by HM the Queen in 1996. And how wonderful a day that was.
The Mace is priceless. It is made of silver gilt, and dates from the time of Charles II. On the raised flat top are the Royal Stuart arms. And between the letters at the base is an inscription as follows: “In the 12th year of the reign of our sovereign lord King Charles II by the grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland 1660”.
So I know I am glad I do not have the responsibility of carrying such a precious piece of history! I would probably have dropped it my now. More than once...
I should add Barbara is effectively my bodyguard at events such as these as the mace was originally a weapon of battle. Fortunately I have not had reason to call on her martial arts skills so far, but I have no doubt that she would despatch any combatant swiftly and without mercy should anyone threaten the Mayor of Buckingham. Indeed I know that Barbara has battled the elements of inclement weather on many occasions with grace, stoicism and determination.
Barbara is from a local family and is one the stalwarts of our solid Buckingham community. She is of course, the first woman to hold this position. And I am told, this was controversial at the time she was appointed by the then Mayor, Cllr Mordue after being nominated by Cllr Isham. Heaven knows why gender should have mattered but I am so glad that times have moved on much since then.
And so here we are, 30 years on Barbara. I am guessing that when you signed up for this role, you may not have expected to be here all this time later. But you are and Buckingham Town Council, Buckingham people and me as the current Mayor are extraordinarily grateful. Thank you so much for your long and dedicated service.
In honour of your service, here is small gift for you to wear. For those who cannot see it is a lapel brooch miniature of the mace itself. Thank you again.