Council role for top Axminster chef


    THE award-winning head chef at River Cottage HQ is Axminster’s newest town councillor.

    Gelf Alderson was co-opted onto Axminster Town Council on Monday, November 13th, becoming the third thirtysomething to join the council in a short period of time.

    The 36-year-old replaces the long-serving Mervyn Symes, who resigned in September.

    Councillor Alderson, who was born in Worcester, won the two-horse co-option race 11-2 against fellow candidate Sarah Birnie.

    He has been the head chef at River Cottage for five years, having previously had the same role at Killerton House in Broadclyst.

    His successes include winning the the Special Achievement Award for his individual contribution to environmental, social and economic sustainability at The Footprint Awards in 2016.

    When asked why he decided to try to become a town councillor, he said: “I’ve been involved with a few local charity events like Yarty Party and Light Up Axminster, and I do the cooking for HALFF at the youth club.

    “I’ve lived in Axminster for four years and it is nice to be involved with the community.

    “I know Mervyn and Dave Moore (a new councillor) and it was Mervyn’s idea of getting younger people involved.”

    Councillor Alderson aims to “try to help improve the town”.

    The town council may be limited in its powers but the new councillor says it is important to keep an eye on issues like the bypass/relief road and the proposed closure of sixth form at Axe Valley Academy.

    He also thinks it it is important to keep hold of the social care and other facilities that do exist, like the library and so on.

    He said: “They seem to be stripped out quite efficiently at the moment.

    “You can whinge as much as you like, but unless you get involved there is nothing you can do.”

    Because of his work, Councillor Alderson brings solid knowledge of licensing issues to the town council.

    Back in August, the co-option of thirtysomethings Aimee Seward and Dave Moore was described as “a much-needed breath of fresh air” by the mayor, Jeremy Walden.

    Councillor Alderson now joins that rank of new and younger councillors.


    Chief Reporter | Started his working life on a farm before becoming a screen printer, both in Sweden. Had another career change and turned to journalism in the mid1990s. Enjoyed an internship with Alexandria Gazette Packet, Va, USA, before moving to the UK. Got a job with The Clarion in Yeovil in 1998, but moved to Axminster in 2006 and has worked on the East Devon beat since.