Columnist John Light applauds some of those honoured in the Queen's New Year Honours... but has some suggestions of his own

IT was a joy to see Jilly Cooper and Janet Trotter mentioned in the Queen's New Year Honours list.

These two ladies have, in their different styles, thoroughly enhanced life in the Cotswolds.

Perhaps Countess Bathurst could have joined them as she had an excellent year as high sheriff.

It was disappointing to see Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown gaining a knighthood.

The words political cronyism spring to mind.

Sir Geoffrey, who did not bother to campaign in his constituency at the last election, certainly deserves an award for complacency.

Political honours should be kept out of the honours system. They are given to people who are just doing their jobs and debase the many genuine folk who are rewarded for going the extra mile.

It is time we had an awards system of our own in a county full of deserving people.

So I am going to nominate some of our many fine citizens for 'Cotswold Commendations' Roger Cullimore is the first winner – Roger aka 'the Gravel Grandee' has played a driving role in the Cullimore group of companies, who in 2017 celebrated their 90th year of trading.

He has also given years of service to Stroud Show and is, for all the right reasons, a respected local employer.

Roger could talk for England and I make this statement with confidence, as having met Geoffrey Boycott I know the standard required.

Another genuine Stroudie is on the list. Russell Hillier has served Stroud Rugby Club in so many positions.

He has stuck by them through thin and thin and such loyalty makes him worthy of an honour.

One of the delights of a Cotswold summer is the opportunity to visit Gifford’s Circus, preferably after a picnic on Minchinhampton Common or Frampton Green.

To visit the circus is an uplifting experience banishing depression and stress.

A ring-side seat should be available on the NHS. No need for prescription drugs when the circus is in town.

Nell Gifford is the prime owner in this wonderful organisation, and fully deserves any award that comes her way. Her work is an inspiration.

We must not forget Tweedy the clown. Tweedy is a delight whether in the circus ring or on the pantomime stage.

All ages love him, as does the hard-to-please Mrs Light. That is praise indeed, Tweedy, you are on the list.

Pantomime leads me to Bob Hunt, the voice of Forest Green and Gloucestershire Cricket on Radio Gloucestershire. Sharpness Village Hall is where Berkeley Amateur Dramatic Society stage their annual Christmas show. Burly of build and generous of spirit, Bob is a fine pantomime dame. The show is in February. Do not miss it. It will surely be a sparkling Cinderella.

Revamp of Market Place is a triumph

CIRENCESTER people are wary of change. Many opposed the redevelopment of the Market Place, even though it was drab and dreary.  The Monday market had gone and the Friday one was just a few stalls.  Too many vehicles cluttered the scene, which meant the town’s title of Capital of the Cotswolds was becoming meaningless.

When change did come work fell behind schedule and undoubtedly it was a tough time for traders.  When work was finally finished a few unfortunate falls brought complaints about the kerb levels.  The prophets of doom found it easy to say the town was dead or dying.

No so! Cirencester has had a wonderful Christmas.  The market on December 4 set the scene. Traffic was banished and there was an amazing Advent market with stalls stretching down Cricklade and Castle streets. Penny and I cancelled trips to Stroud, Cheltenham and, dare I say it, Swindon. We did our Christmas shopping in our own town with surprising ease.

Absence of parking was now a topic for the doom-mongers, and indeed the Forum and Brewery Yard filled up quickly.

However, I am informed there were always spaces in the Waterloo Car Park.  Personal research among our of town friends indicated an ignorance of the existence of this car park.  Those who did know of it complained of the distance from the Market Place!

Better signage is obviously needed and is something that can be done now. It is no more than the Capital of the Cotswolds deserves.