'I'd like to organise a party, not a wake when coronavirus crisis is over' pleads Leighton-Linslade's mayor
Leighton-Linslade's mayor has described how he wants a big party and not a wake when the coronavirus pandemic is eventually over.
Cllr David Bowater has spoken out this week to implore residents to follow government guidelines to stay at home to reduce the risk of spreading the illness and help the NHS cope with the expected peak in cases in the coming weeks as the number of UK deaths rises alarmingly.
The mayor's video message follows concerns that not all locals are following the Prime Minister's instructions that people should only leave their homes for one of four reasons: shopping for basic necessities; one form of exercise per day; any medical need or to care for a vulnerable person; or for travel to work if absolutely necessary.
In recent days, Leighton-Linslade Town Council has reported that padlocks have been broken, tape cut and gates forced at playgrounds in the town as "a small minority" of the public blatantly ignore the coronavirus measures.
Cllr Bowater said he had been asked by residents if the town was planning a celebratory party when the virus had been beaten. He said: "My simple answer is yes...I want to hold a big party and I will do everything I can to do so.
"It's up to you folks to make sure it is a party and not a wake. If we all obey the rules such as staying at home, maintaining safe social separation and washing our hands it will be a party. If we don’t it will be a wake.
"I do not want to organise a wake. Please do this to support and protect our NHS."
The mayor then revealed his special interest in the NHS, adding: "As I was recording the video my daughter was coming to the end of four days of 12 hour+ shifts on the front line. As a consultant cardiologist one of her responsibilities is End of Life Care. I don’t want to be told any more details because I think that would make me worry even more."
Cllr Bowater said his video message had been primarily intended to thank people who have helped him to raise money for his Mayor’s Charity Fund since he took office last year, but that in the current situation he should also thank others who were doing excellent work during the outbreak.
He said: "I have been raising money for three charities over the past 10 months. They are Motor Neurone Disease Association, Hospice at Home Volunteers and Yes We Can Disabled Sports. Each of these charities has given me excellent support and have attended all events, sadly we have had to cancel the final two events. Local companies also were very generous in donating raffle prizes and assisted.
"I must now thank all volunteers who are working so hard to support vulnerable people in the town. Special thanks to Holly Woollard and June Tobin who organised an army of helpers [Leighton Linslade Helpers] ensuring that everyone has food and other essentials. Far too many to name individually!
"Thanks too to Dave Bierton. His 'Leighton Be Buggered' Facebook page has helped keep us (and that includes me) informed of what is happening in the town."
The mayor's video message was originally posted on the Leighton Linslade Rotary Club Facebook page, with Cllr Bowater being a long-standing Rotarian.
The Rotary Club itself has stated: "The club has always been grateful for the unflinching support of the Leighton Linslade community and as we all look to overcome COVID-19
Rotary is determined to serve and support our community to the very best of its ability.
"We are conscious of the superb efforts of many individuals and organisations as the community deals with the unprecedented times we find ourselves in.
"We are particularly keen to ensure our outstanding local community groups and organisations don’t get left behind so If you think Rotary can assist your group, please contact us at