BORN in Maldon and living here for 38 years, I could be regarded as a ‘Maldon man’.

I lived and worked in Epping for five years, however, I was a Burnham boy for my first 20 years and it still holds a special place in my heart.

So I was delighted when my wife Victoria and I were invited by Sally Harbott, commodore of Burnham Sailing Club, to its annual cocktail evening.

We were warmly welcomed by rear commodore Jeff Welsh.

I admit I felt slightly uncomfortable as people inside were standing closer together than I would normally like these days, so I was really grateful when Burnham mayor (and district councillor) Vanessa Bell ushered us into a large, open-sided area covered by a gazebo.

Meeting a colleague you know well is always welcome and Vanessa introduced my wife and I to some of her colleagues, one of whom was Burnham’s newest town councillor, Duncan Rawlinson, and his wife Claire.

We spoke about Burnham Town Council, issues in the district and the perceptions of Maldon District Council, and I really enjoyed their company and I hope we meet again soon.

Later, an impeccably well-dressed man with gleaming black shoes, club tie and blazer strode purposefully towards me saying: “I think I know this young man.”

I immediately recognized him as John Mellard, a past Burnham gentleman’s hairdresser.

John, now 85, is a very well-known and highly-respected Burnham man, president of Burnham Sailing Club, Rotarian and croquet player.

John spent more than 53 years in his barbers shop, near Coronation Road.

My memories flooded back and I had a lovely talk with him about my role and times past and present.

I felt privileged that he approached me in such a friendly way and it was good to see him so well.

My Maldon crest collar pin, supplied by Maldon’s Plume School, was well spotted by the membership secretary of the club as I was leaving – past-teacher Liz Tolhurst taught PE and IT at Plume and was also warmly remembered by my wife.

Sitting down at home later, I considered the people who I have encountered that evening.

Those from the past, those in the present and those whom I may well know better in the future.

I’m very grateful to Burnham Sailing Club for the invitation.

Mark Heard

Maldon District Council chairman