My name is Imogen Percival, I am a year 12 student at the Kings of Wessex Academy and I chose to go to the Town Council for work experience because I have always been interested in the management and decision making of Burnham and Highbridge, having lived here all my life. I expected the week to be just making tea and coffee but I learnt a great deal more which has given insight into the legal, political and financial aspects of the work, as well as extending my basic office skills like photocopying. In the office there are three women who do the administration in the council: Denise (town clerk); Lorna Williams (deputy town clerk) and Lorna Brewer (admin assistant), as well as other staff who have various responsibilities.
The week began on the 4th of July, where I was given an introduction and tour of the building, which is surprisingly bigger than it seems and preserves its history well with photographs of previous councils. I then saw the mail and telephone system so that I could open all the mail for the week. To give me the skills I needed for the week, I was shown how to use the photocopier, laminator and franking machine. This lead to me making posters for the weekend events; although somewhat repetitive this was interesting as I found out about all the local events. In the afternoon- with the Town Council meeting that evening- I set up the court room for the councillors under the supervision of Lorna B. Therefore, on Tuesday I was able to see how the minutes are dealt with and put on the website. I then sent cheques and began to make booklets for the burial committee, this was a little dull however the day got much more interesting as I visited Highbridge cemetery with Denise and saw how full it is as well as how the regulations work. Denise went on to tell me about her role- a very busy and responsible one requiring lots of skills. As the day concluded I saw some of the burial archives which, as a history student I enjoyed seeing the history of meetings, some dating back to the 19th century.
Wednesday was the Town Projects Committee meeting which I attended in the evening, I enjoyed seeing how debate happens and how decisions are made, to understand the future of the towns. The agenda included a review of the World Paper Airplane Championship; the Chase the Sun bike ride and a look at double yellow lines and railway heritage, with a discussion of a possible museum! Earlier in the day I made leaflets for the burial regulations and I helped make letters for the agenda of the burial committee. Wednesday afternoon: Denise, Lorna W and I went to Highbridge Community Hall where Sedgemoor District Council had displayed planning possibilities for the whole district. It was exciting to see how homes were planned and where they may go in the future; I did not understand all of the technicalities, but the larger picture- which I could now understand after Lorna and Denise explained more- was interesting. On Thursday I learnt much more about the Princess, firstly Jacqueline told me about the accounts in the morning, I saw the complicated process of checking all the accounts to make sure they match. Then I went to the Princess Theatre with Jacqueline to see how Sam manages the accounts. I was interested in her ideas for the future and even saw backstage; the props for Little Shop of Horrors were amazing! The building is also very big and much is hidden away, I learnt that it used to be a fire station.
To conclude the week I made some more posters which had arrived and then went with Lorna B to Burnham and Highbridge poster points to update the posters. We then visited the Highbridge allotments in order to see how some were not being used and to see if the newest ones were. It was an additional part of the work done by the Town Council which I had previously not known about. Then in the afternoon I sent a letter and visited the Brent Road cemetery with Lorna W to see the new flowers there, I loved how rural the cemetery is and how many flowers there are! To finish the day off I looked at the burial books to find the grave number for someone, a news article from 1994 about a veteran was attached which was fascinating to read.
Overall I have had an insightful and exciting week at the Town Council, it has proved to be much more than just paper work and I am very grateful to everyone for giving me so much to do and giving me a much greater knowledge of their work. I believe I can now understand how the burial, the Princess and general town management works and learn about the working world outside of my school studies, giving me vital skills for the future which I did not previously have. My interest in the local community has grown greatly as well as my confidence in the office world. I am very thankful to the Town Council and all the staff for giving me the amazing opportunity.