News and blog

Mayor Bolton shares her experience and advice with students

Mayor of Hertford blog for St Mary’s School, Cambridge

Although the former Mayor of Hertford, Rosemary Bolton, was unable to attend our UCAS Day in the Summer Term, she wanted to share her experience as mayor and some words of wisdom with our students.

I am what I often describe as a professional volunteer! Supporting the community is very high on our priority list at the moment, but I do it all day, every day, in various roles.

I am a Justice of the Peace or a Magistrate, a Town and District Councillor, School Governor, Church volunteer, NHS Volunteer Responder, Child Protection Officer and I sit on tribunal panels, like school appeals, complaint, grievance and disciplinary panels. I get around a bit.

I had been invited to talk to you as the recently retired Mayor of Hertford. The Worshipful the Mayor of Hertford is an important and traditional role going back over 400 years. I was the 421st Mayor and elected to serve for a year by my fellow Hertford Town Councillors.

The role is busy, varied, intense, unpaid, but literally the best job in the world in my opinion!

I have had the opportunity to be invited to all sorts of places I would not normally go, met the most extraordinary people and discovered the amazing work that is going on quietly behind the scenes to make our world a better place. It has been an honour, an absolute delight.

I have enjoyed attending all manner of events, from plays and concerts to garden parties, receptions, coffee mornings, fairs, lunches, dinners, quizzes, and police attestations. Welcoming visitors from across the world to the Castle has been a joy, as has hosting visits from local organisations and events at the Castle and engaging with a large variety of community groups. I have also cut ribbons, opened events, switched on lights, presented awards and certificates, planted a rose and judged cakes among many other things.

Attending the Remembrance Day Service in Hertford and laying the first wreath was an emotional moment, I am proud of my many relatives who served in the World Wars and those who lost their lives.

One highlight was nominating two local charities, Herts Young Homeless and Carers in Hertfordshire, and raised awareness and funds for them. As a Magistrate I had had experience of the excellent work carried out by Herts Young Homeless, who support some of the most vulnerable young people in the County. I chose Carers in Hertfordshire as the second because I had been a young carer in my youth, attending the Young Carer Conference was an extremely rewarding, if harrowing experience for me. I was immensely proud to raise £8,000 for them and meet some of the staff and volunteers - I know the money raised will go a long way and do a great deal of good.

There have been challenges and frustrations, but mostly it has been a joy.  Everything I have done has given me more enthusiasm for the work going on in our communities by dedicated volunteers, organisations and businesses to support local residents. This has been particularly obvious during the lockdown, when our amazing community rose to the occasion, and showed the kindness and generosity that we have come to expect in our wonderful town of Hertford. It is clear from the news and social media that it has been the same across the country. I’m sure you have had experience of it where you live.

Before I was sworn in as Mayor, Bishop Michael of Hertford gave me some significant and extremely pertinent advice. He said that this would be my opportunity to thank everyone, and that I could make a difference to people’s lives, just by thanking them. It sounds extraordinary, why should one person’s thanks matter. However, there is a reason why Bishop Michael is a bishop… he is very wise. Most volunteers aren’t thanked, or don’t feel as if they are, perhaps they missed the memo from on high, but they do like being appreciated and hearing someone thank them.

I made it a mission in my Mayoral year to thank everyone, and I mean everyone I could. We live in a wonderful community, full of kind and generous people. They give of their time and talents willingly, and donate to charity as much as they are able, they quietly make life better for others without making a fuss. Many of the volunteers I have met do not like to acknowledge the difference they are making to their community, they are reticent to accept how important they are - that is why it is vital to keep thanking them.

It came as a shock to all of us when COVID-19 came slithering into our lives, driving us all into our homes. But God’s light and rainbow of hope have shone through, and we have felt the uplifting joy of our community working together, finding coping strategies, helping each other and sharing the love. Friends, neighbours and strangers are taking care of others, and enjoying the experience.

Ladies, you are at the beginning of your lives, I am sure many, if not all, of you have already had the opportunity to help others and make a difference. 

You have the opportunity to carry on, or start, making a difference. There are many ways to volunteer, help and be part of your community. You are strong, capable, confident and independent young ladies, you have a ‘can do’ attitude and I am sure you will use your time, talents and skills to good effect. It will benefit everyone; you, those you help, your wider community and the country. We can all find a little time to help others and I believe that it is our duty to do so.

I wish you all the very best in your personal endeavours.

Rosemary Bolton