One of Bourne’s most influential people is looking back on 15 years of community involvement ahead of her retirement in August.
Town clerk Nelly Jacobs has had a hand in most of the significant events in the town since she began working for the town council in July 2000.
And Nelly, 62, will retire on August 31 having changed Bourne for the better during her time in the job.
She has transformed the role of the council, guiding it through changes to key legislation and helping councillors take on and develop assets and events.
Nelly was born in Lucerne in Switzerland before moving to England in 1975. She came to Bourne in 1986 with her husband Jake and three children.
After working for Bourne Abbey Primary School and Robert Manning Technology College, Nelly decided a career change was needed and took the job of Bourne town clerk.
“I liked the idea of working for the council. It seemed like it could be quite a varied and interesting job,” said Nelly.
“It was a doddle when I first started. About 80 per cent of today’s legislation didn’t exist. Health and safety wasn’t as stringent. A lot of local government legislation has changed and a lot of it has created a lot more paperwork.”
A major project in Nelly’s time as town clerk was helping the council take over and refurbish the toilets in South Street.
Nelly said: “In 2004 the district council decided to close the toilets. I organised a meeting to discuss Bourne Town Council taking them over because I knew Market Deeping Town Council was doing something similar. We entered into an agreement to manage them, but since then we have built our own.”
Other key achievements include convincing the district and county authorities to continue the Saturday morning recycling until a new tip was built, and organising a weekend of events for the golden jubilee in 2002.
“It took a huge chunk of my life”, said Nelly. “We had beer festivals, parties and fundraisers. It was a really big weekend. Bourne has never seen another weekend like that. It took a lot of my time but it was enjoyable. That spawned Bourne Festival.”
And one of Nelly’s biggest achievements has been Bourne In Bloom, which was introduced in 2006. She said: “It’s had a big impact and volunteers have come forward to do things on a regular basis. It’s brightened up the town with flowers and it’s created a cleaner environment.”
From dealing with major events to handling requests to buy waterfowl, the job of the town clerk is hugely varied. Nelly said: “I’m employed by the council to do the work that they resolve for me to do. But the taxpayer pays my salary so I feel I’m also here to help them directly. If there is something I can do I will always try to do it. That’s how I see my role.”
The town council has appointed Ian Sismey as Nelly’s successor. He will do well to heed her advice.
“You have to be patient because nothing happens overnight,” she said. “I never thought of myself as a patient person, but this job has made me more patient. You have to be prepared to be very frustrated. A lot of investigative work has to be carried out which in the end may never lead to anything.”