29th April 2012

A civic service marking Andy Rhind-Tutt one year as Mayor took place today at Amesbury Abbey Church, led by Canon Simon Wilkinson

Bex and I were invited along and attended the ceremony as guests. We considered this to be a great honour, and a mark of how strong our bond of friendship with the Amesbury community has become over the last year.

We decided to wear green robes to show both respect and neutrality for the occasion. Formal civic functions held in church are not familiar territory for us we were a little anxious how we would be received by the Christian congregation.

To their great credit we were made to feel most welcome.

It isn’t always easy for people of different faiths to share things in this way but it should be. If we look to the good within each other and forgive the past mistakes on all sides then we have a chance together to forge the kind of world that we all aspire to be a part of.

We are one community made up of diversity.

The Abbey church is a beautiful building, inside of which the ceremony started with the playing of bagpipes, a procession, and beautiful choir supported by one of the finest organs I have ever heard. Very different to the generally rough and ready Druid ceremony but no less impressive for that. It is easy for pagans to forget that there are many things that the Church does very well, and this kind of celebration is one of them.

The hymns of the church tradition have great spiritual power and involve everyone. The joining together with music is something that we have mostly lost touch with in Pagan ceremony. As a child my parents took me to church a lot, but as an adult walking my chosen path as a Druid I was surprised to identify a sense of loss at not being able to join in this aspect of ceremony where the words were no longer a match to my beliefs.

This was as much a celebration of the progress that has been made by the town as it was of Andy’s leadership this last year. This has included Amesbury getting historic status (together with striking new road signs), opening of the Forge Gallery, establishing the Amesbury Heritage Trust, great discoveries at the Vaspaisians camp mesolithic dig site dating Amesbury to at least 6250 BC, rediscovery of our Royal Heritage with Queen Eleanor, a great Carnival, visit from Bolivian Ambassador, Community participation in the cultural olympiad, and the Amesbury 2012 project to name just a few.

Essentially the community has pulled together. It has been fun, it has made a difference and Amesbury is now striding towards a vibrant future. Well done Andy Rhind-Tutt but also well done to all those from the town who put the effort in.

Amesbury Abbey Church

Ambassador Beatriz visits Stonehenge and Amesbury May 2011

Amesbury Carnival, Aes Dana open the even with Andy

Winter Solstice Eve 2011 - Lantern Parade

Left, Andy at the opening of the Amesbury Museum April 2012