Mayor to receive fish at bridge opening

A TOWN mayor is to receive a special, and somewhat unusual, gift to celebrate the official opening of new £2.4m bridge.Sudbury mayor John Sayers will don his traditional robes and chains to receive the presentation to celebrate the opening of the town's Ballingdon Bridge.

A TOWN mayor is to receive a special, and somewhat unusual, gift to celebrate the official opening of new £2.4m bridge.

Sudbury mayor John Sayers will don his traditional robes and chains to receive the presentation to celebrate the opening of the town's Ballingdon Bridge.

But when Mr Sayers is handed the special token of a wet fish, it may not be exactly what he was expecting.

The time honoured tradition is one of several events organised by Suffolk County Council to celebrate to opening of the bridge in July.


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The bizarre ceremony is being staged to re-enact the ancient tradition of presenting the mayor of the day with a fish – in lieu of a toll over the bridge.

Other events on the day will include local vicar Reverend Andrew Platt blessing the new structure from a boat along the River Stour, which flows under the bridge and local historian Barry Wall cutting the ceremonial ribbons.

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Pupils from St Gregory's Primary School will also play a major part in the celebrations by dressing up in costumes through ages back to the 13th Century, when the first bridge was built across the river.

The school children will also bury a time capsule under the bridge, which will be the fifth on the site, which provides a vital link along the A131 over the River Stour on the Suffolk/Essex border.

After nearly two years of disruption the first vehicles rumbled over the new bridge, when it was opened to one-way traffic last month.

The bridge is now nearly complete and the official celebrations will begin on at 2pm on Friday, July 18.

Suffolk County Council's communications manager Sandra Graffham said: "This will be a big day for Sudbury and for the council, because it was such a big project.

"We think the celebrations will be fantastic and fitting way to mark the completion of the bridge. We think the bridge will look excellent and will become a marvellous Sudbury landmark. We really wanted to involve the community in the celebrations to thank them for their patience and co-operation during all the disruptions."

The authority is also organising a special celebratory party for residents who have been hardest hit by the disruptions. It will be held following the official opening of the bridge.

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