Today is my final day with Trowbridge Town Hall Trust. As with all partings, it’s provoking a lot of reflections. I’d wanted to leave with some profound thoughts, but memories swirl to the surface instead.
A memory of sitting on the grand staircase with two performance artists weeks before I started, dreaming of what the building could be, who it could be for. Another in the Sensory Garden on a baking hot May Bank holiday lying in the grass listening to musicians and eating nuts. Another of a robust public meeting in my first fortnight, the passion of the community evident. Of a Christmas show reducing me to tears every night. Of a yoga class. A child applauded by their parents for their work in our post-lockdown exhibition. Of a busy beer-filled night when we launched the café. Of long chats hatching projects. Showing young people from the Prince’s Trust the Great Hall from the balcony.
I remember a volunteer telling me to tuck my shirt in because “you’re not Dominic Cummings”. The early morning start when BBC Wiltshire live broadcast their morning show. The band performing on the stairs for ITV Westcountry. The community groups and artists meeting funders only days before our first lockdown.
For the last 18 months, a lot of my memories of Trowbridge have occurred from a hundred miles away. In my kitchen in Devon. I’ve found out we’ve secured funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, Arts Council England and many others. On Boxing Day 2020, we heard we’d the funding from the Future High Streets Fund, a realisation of hundreds (thousands?) of hours of groundwork.
I’ve spent too long on zoom and too little time with people. Too much time planning events and too little time seeing them. Too much time dreaming, perhaps, and too little living.
The clock tower tolls five. Perhaps I should share some passing thoughts, some things I’ve learnt in the last three years, and which may be helpful for others.
One. Things take a long time. Challenges can be pretty deeply embedded. Patience is needed. And faith. Keep on.
Two. Work together. This town’s a big place and there’s a lot more we can do with each other than against each other. Be generous. Share.
Three. Be bold. This project can be pioneering – community ownership at the heart of the town. Borrow, but don’t copy, others. Invent the future.
Four. Most importantly. People are brilliant. Our structures are not. Remove the structures and allow people to be their brilliant selves.
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to work here, to learn here, to be here. This is an incredible town, with a rich history and an incredible future. I can’t wait to see what you achieve.
On behalf of the Town Hall staff and trustees, we would like to thank David for his hard work and dedication. His ambition and drive has helped the trust take a step forward at a time when much of the world stood still. He has achieved his mission of helping to secure the future of the Town Hall “for the benefit if the inhabitants of the town for ever”, and for that we are eternally grateful.