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Mayor’s dinner is almost burnt

Hotel staff save day after kitchen blaze
A KITCHEN fire at a Dartmouth hotel almost scuppered this year’s civic dinner hosted by mayor Cllr Paul Allen.
But quick-thinking staff at the Royal Castle Hotel stopped the blaze from spreading.
They were believed to be preparing terrine of confit chicken and mushroom starters for more than 100 guests, who would be attending a formal function later that evening at the Guildhall, when hot fat in the oven ignited.
An immediate call to the emergency services saw two fire crews from Brixham and one from Dartmouth race to the hotel just after 11.30am on Saturday morning.
‘It was touch and go for a while and we joked we might be sending out for fish and chips for over 100 people,’ said Cllr Chris Smith, who organised the civic event with his wife, Cllr Felicity Smith, assisted by the town clerk Tracy Rowe and staff. ‘But we were in no doubt the hotel would be able to come up with the necessary. We had every faith the show would somehow go on.’
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus tackled a small fire in the hotel’s kitchen.
A thermal-imaging camera was used to check for hotspots.
‘The fire involved hot fat in the oven, which caused 10 per cent fire damage to the oven,’ said a fire service spokesman. ‘The cause of the fire was accidental.’
This year’s civic dinner, to mark the end of Cllr Allen’s year in office, saw a total of 105 people enjoy a sit-down meal, which followed a champagne reception in the council chamber.
Catering arrangements were in the hands of the Royal Castle Hotel who for a ticket price of £28 served a three-course menu of terrine of confit chicken and wild mushroom with Royal Castle chutney, beef and ale pie with seasonal vegetables and lemon drizzle cake with raspberry compote.
Town clerk Tracy Rowe said: ‘Hotel duty manager Tony Bryne and his team provided a fantastic service to the guests, with nothing being too much trouble.’
A raffle for the mayor’s fund raised £570, which will be divided between six organisations in the town to be announced shortly.
A further £85 was also pledged in sponsorship when it was announced the High Sheriff of Devon, John Lee, would be leaving the dinner to spend the night sleeping on the streets of Exeter in support of the YMCA and to raise awareness of the homelessness.
Other guests present at the civic dinner included Lord Lieutenant of Devon Sir Eric Dancer and Lady Carol Dancer; Lord Mayor of Exeter Cllr Rachel Lyons; Mayor of Totnes Cllr Pruw Boswell; Mayor of Kingsbridge Cllr Irene Jenninga; Mayor of Torbay Gordon Oliver; Mayor of Bideford Cllr Simon Inch; South Hams Council chairman Cllr Bryan Carson; Devon County Council chairman Bernard Hughes; and former Dartmouth mayors Debbie Morris and Cllr Melvin Stone along with representatives of many local organisations.
Cllr Stone presented the mayor with a depiction of the crests of Dartmouth and Sutton Coldfield, Cllr Allen’s home town.
Town crier Lez Ellis provided impromptu entertainment with magic tricks and balloon modelling.
Local businesses and organisations donated prizes towards the raffle, including two tickets to a Britannia Royal Naval College passing out parade; a £20 voucher from Mark Lobb Fish and Game; a £30 voucher from Rock Fish; and two tickets to the Flavel.
The rooms at the Guildhall were decorated with plants loaned by Gardentime.

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