At a recent town council meeting we received training from Peter Hillman on Dementia Awareness. The aim is that Shepton can become a town that is dementia aware and supportive of sufferers and their carers. Peter told us there are five key messages: 1. Dementia is not a natural part of ageing. 2. It’s caused by diseases of the brain. 3. It’s not just about losing your memory; it can effect thinking, communicating and doing everyday tasks. 4. It’s possible to live well with dementia. 5. There is more to a person than their dementia. The national dementia helpline is 0300 222 1122.

The council also discussed the Armistice 100 event. As Reverend Jonathan said in St Peter and St Paul Church during the recent commemoration, there are many who helped to make this event a success. I extend my thanks to them all, but would like to especially recognise the work of the town council’s Administrative Assistant, Abbie Riggs, who played a vital part in organising the proceedings. Her contribution to the commemoration is a timely reminder of why we need high quality staff in your council to make it possible to arrange safe and successful events and deliver complex community projects.

This Friday sees the official Christmas lights switch-on. This year the town council has created a brighter display to light up Town Street, and we are supporting local businesses and community groups to make this Christmas one to remember with a record number of events and markets.

This weekend we are celebrating “Small Business Saturday”. With Christmas fast approaching, it’s a reminder that there are many great, innovative traders in Shepton, offering plenty of opportunities to buy presents. Shepton’s Fairy Godmother, Helen Reader, is organising late night shopping on Fridays to give those who work during the week a chance to buy locally.

For the first time, we are holding a special three-day Christmas Market from Friday 14th to Sunday 16th December giving everyone the chance to browse and buy a wide range of original gifts. Then just before the big day, on Saturday 22nd December, the impressive Lantern Festival will parade from Collett Park to the Market Square. The town council has helped by paying the cost of the event’s insurance. There is still plenty of time for people to invent their own lantern creations and take part in this increasingly well-attended and enchanting Christmas celebration.

Chris Inchley, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council