In 2002 I needed to reinvent myself. I got a job working at a centre that provided computer courses for adults and I took advantage of the free courses. The Barlborough Parish Council office was in a building a few hundred yards away from where I worked and when the Clerk resigned I applied for the job.
I worked at Barlborough for a period of four years and during this time I gained CiLCA qualification. In 2008 Belper was advertising for a new Town Clerk and I thought the role looked right up my street.
I set off for the interview at 11am leaving me more than enough time for the interview at 1pm. I drove down the slip road at junction 30 and was immediately met with a mass of traffic. There had been an accident between junction 29 and 28 and the M1 was at a standstill.
Every 30 minutes I telephoned Belper to let them know my situation and asked if they could wait for me to arrive. I eventually got there at 3.30pm the 45minute journey took 4 and a half hours. The Councillors must have thought I was worth waiting for – they offered me the job 2 days later.
The first twelve months I spent my time out finding out who did what and where. It was clear that Belper has some unique characters and some fantastic residents who are very proactive. I saw it as my place to get everyone to work together and share resources. I had never organised a Food Festival before but I like food and thought lets give it a go.
What started with a few stalls in the centre of King Street and 500 visitors now takes over the whole of King Street, Strutt Street, Campbell Street, the Market Place, the Memorial Gardens and receives over 10,000 visitors.
My first year was very challenging but I worked with many people who embraced the challenge of trying new ideas. I’m delighted to say that through this approach we’ve all achieved a lot for Belper. Councillor Nelson said ‘Belper was always the bridesmaid and never the bride’ in the East Midland in Bloom competition. But in 2010 we changed all that. Belper won the Large Town category and they received a Gold award and have been awarded a Gold every year since. In 2012 Belper was nominated to enter the National Britain in Bloom competition which they won.
I’ve enjoyed the challenges of listening, providing support along with sharing information and great teamwork. Each event has continued to grow as more and more people have gained confidence and took ownership which allow their particular skills to shine. These include the Arts Festival, Arts Trail, Belper Goes Green and the Christmas Tree Festival.
Belper now has regular events which include Food Festival, East Midlands in Bloom, Open Gardens, Larks in the Park, Well Dressing, Remembrance Day, Christmas Food Festival, Christmas Switch On, Christmas Carol Service.
We won the Great British High Street and there will be celebrations for the Queens 90th Birthday.
I have really enjoyed my time at Belper, working with so many committed community minded people. I’m sure the events will continue to grow and expand.
I wish everyone well and look forward to seeing you again at the regular events.
By Roz Bullimore
Roz left last Friday to start her new job as Eckington parish clerk. Belper has employed an interim clerk for 3 months who has been working as the clerk to Duffield Parish Council.