Stephen Went, of Southend Road , Bungay, was presented with the robes and chain of office, by the outgoing Reeve, Mary Sprake, at the Fisher Theatre at the Town Meeting on December 5th.
Mr Went, aged 52, was born in Bungay and has long been involved in the local community, having previously served as Town Mayor in 1998, when his mother, Roma Went, was Town Reeve, and Town Reeve in 2004. Mr Went works at Willis Insurance Brokers, in Ipswich, and has been a member of the Bungay Theatre Group for the last 20 years; he is also a treasurer and lay elder at Holy Trinity Church.
Mr Went said - ' It is a great honour to take up the position again. Having done it the first time I am ready and more prepared. It's nice to be able to represent the town and I am keen to support and promote it wherever I go. Loads of people will scoff at tradition but for me it is an honour and unique. It's more of a civic role and non political, which makes it more pleasurable.'
Mrs Sprake added - 'So few places keep the traditions going - it's nice that everything isn't swallowed up by the 21st century.'
Bungay is believed to be the only town to retain the unique and ancient role. The Town Reeve serves as the head of the Bungay Town Trust, which is made up of Feoffees (trustees) - Mr Went has been a member of the Trust since 1998.
Outgoing Reeve, Mrs Sprake recommended Mr Went for the position. She said -'He is one of the first people I thought of for the role because of his long term involvement in the town. Especially as he did it once before, I am sure he will return with a renewed vigour. I'm quite sad that my time as Reeve is ending, I feel wiser of the town and it's people now, you really get to find out what makes the town tick'
Bungay's famous Butter Cross on Market Day
Bungay Town Trust was formed as a registered charity in 1910 when Local Government was being installed throughout the country. Bungay was fortunate in having a Town Purse which had built up over the years from legacies of land, buildings and monies bequeathed by residents, and the administrators of this fund did not want it absorbed into the coffers of the Urban District Council about to be set up. By making it a registered charity, this pot of Town Money would remain free from political and national influences and be effectively ring-fenced for the sole use of Bungay.
Because the Trust is not under the same restrictions as the Council, it can make grants to individuals or other deserving causes and thereby fulfill its role as a true charity.
The Town Trust, or Purse, is believed to date back to medieval times and has always been headed by the Town Reeve and his committee of feoffees. This committee now has Council members within it (as decreed by the Charity Commissioners for democractic reasons) and the income from the Town Trust's varied assets is used for the good of the town and its inhabitants.Although the origins of the Town Trust are ancient, it now prides itself on being in the 21st century with a constant revue of its investments, the recent modernisation of its almshouses, an ongoing application for environmental stewardship of its lands and an ever watchful eye on its buildings so that they comply with conservation regulations and are an example to all.Bungay is proud to have this unique non-political and non-denominational charity running alonside the Town Council, with the Town Reeve and Town Mayor working together on social and civic occasions.
Registered Charity No: 1159281