Truro Mayor Councillor Carol Swain welcomed guests to Truro Cathedral on Sunday, 18 June for the Mayor’s annual Civic Service which included a special celebration to mark the 200th birthday of Passmore Edwards.
The service, which was taken by Interim Dean, Simon Robinson, was attended by the High Sheriff of Cornwall, Toby Ashworth; the Mayoress Ms Sarah Douglas-Martin; Deputy Mayor Sam Rabey and consort Graham Ford; visiting Mayors, Truro City Councillors, the Town Clerk, Town Crier, Mace Bearers and the Mayor’s Cadet Aidan Nelson, and representatives of local organisations. The sermon was given by Rev’d Simon Clarke, Superintendent Minister of the Mid-Cornwall Methodist Circuit.
Readings were given by the Mayor of Truro, Councillor Carol Swain; Deputy Mayor, Councillor Sam Rabey; the Mayor of Camborne, Councillor Zoe Fox; and the Mayor of Falmouth, Councillor Kirstie Edwards.
The service also gave thanks for the life and work of Passmore Edwards who became the first person to receive the Freedom of the City of Truro on 6 June 1893.
Born in Blackwater, in 1823, Passmore Edwards was a renowned journalist and newspaper proprietor, political and social reformer, MP, peace activist and anti-slavery campaigner Living at a time of huge political and social reform, he was actively involved in many of the major events of the last half of the 19th century.
After standing down as MP for Salisbury after a short period in Parliament, he set out to redistribute his wealth to help those who he said had created it; the people who printed, distributed or bought his papers – the working classes.
Stating that he wanted to help people to help themselves, “If I can fund the ladder, the poor might climb”, he funded the construction of 71 public buildings – including hospitals, libraries, convalescent homes, village institutes and settlements, schools and colleges, homes for orphans and for children with disabilities, art galleries and museums, in just 14 years.
When he died in 1911 the Times reported that Passmore Edwards had “done more in his time than any other of his contemporaries.”
Welcoming the opportunity to celebrate the life and work of Passmore Edwards as part of this year’s Civic Service, Councillor Swain said “I found the speeches in celebration of the life of John Passmore Edwards particularly moving and relevant to my own life, as I was also born into relative poverty and benefitted from similar facilities in my early life. This allowed me to fulfil my potential and achieve things that my parents and grandparents would have said, when I was born, were impossible.”