21st September 2023
In Thrings’ first feature for Wiltshire Life Magazine, Thrings Partner and Head of Private Client Fiona Kellow meets Nick Fogg, Mayor of Marlborough.
Fiona Kellow: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Nick Fogg: I like to think that I’ve never had a proper career, having dabbled in the arts, in politics and in charities over the years.
While I am originally from Stratford-on-Avon, I came to Marlborough in the early 80s to teach Religious Education at the College for just over a decade. In what was quite a change, I left after receiving the irrefusable offer from Harvard University to be involved in the Middle East Peace Process, working with a wealth of fascinating minds, including Nobel Prize winners.
Despite all of that going on, I have always remained in Marlborough, serving on the Town Council since 1982 and am currently serving as Mayor for the third time.
FK: What is it about Wiltshire, and Marlborough in particular that has kept you here?
NF: Where else could I want to go? Wiltshire boasts a collection of charming and welcoming communities where the people are innately friendly, and it is almost impossible not to fall in love with the landscape.
Marlborough has previously been ranked as the most generous place in England with its people on average giving to more charities than anywhere else and I believe this sentiment and strength of community spirit prevails. It has also played host over the years to some fantastic community events that really bring people together throughout the year which I have been thrilled to play a part in creating such as the Marlborough Jazz and Literature Festivals.
Marlborough also celebrated the Coronation earlier this year with the biggest street party in the country. The High Street was absolutely packed with everyone clearly enjoying themselves. While it might be a bit much to have a Royal Coronation every year, I definitely think that we should be holding more events of that scale!
FK: You mentioned the Jazz Festival, which ran for over 30 years. How did it come about?
NF: When I first became Mayor, I’d noticed that so many places had a festival of their own and felt it was something that would be great for our own community.
The inspiration for what became the Jazz Festival initially came from an event in Calne based on local talent. In any place you will find a pool of talented people and Marlborough is certainly no exception, so we needed an outlet to showcase that talent.
What started as a modest event grew over the years to become the biggest of its kind in the country. Whilst we sadly had to cancel it a number of years ago, the fact it lasted for more than 30 years is definitely something we as a town can be proud of.
FK: And the Literature Festival?
NF: During my second stint as Mayor, we began to notice that the focus on the Jazz festival had led us to ignore other areas of artistic endeavour and looked to explore how else we could fly the flag for Marlborough and, alongside local novelist Mavis Cheek, resulted in the creation of the Literature Festival which launched in 2010.
Again, we started small and built up, getting some fascinating individuals to attend through the years and I am delighted it continues to flourish. I don’t have a great deal to do with it nowadays but was happy to have passed it onto the very capable hands of its current stewards.
FK: As Mayor, what can you tell us about what is on the horizon for Marlborough?
NF: They say that the average Venetian gets asked 170 times a year for directions around Venice and I often feel the same with people asking me about whether the Jazz Festival is returning. This clearly shows there is an appetite for a new event in the Marlborough calendar and over the summer I convened a meeting to see what we can do next.
Going back to the Calne principle, the idea is to get people from across the community together to see whether there is the possibility for some kind of showcase, and I am very excited to see what comes from our follow-up meeting!