In 2006, I stumbled across a Swedish website where a Dorset expatriate, Stephen Coombs, had put forward a suggestion for the design of a Dorset flag to be dedicated to St. Wite, a local West Dorset saint. In the discussion that followed I pointed out that in fact the flag was suitable in more ways than Stephen had realised. After I completed a few renderings, we found we had an excellent foundation to build on and a chance to promote a new flag for Dorset.
In May 2007, several websites began selling a ‘Dorset Flag’. It had a white background and the three lions from the County Council arms. It prompted me to write to the Dorset Echo to point out what had appeared and ask the question – is this our proper flag? I was annoyed that someone had randomly created a flag without thinking of it in terms of heraldry or even discussing it. It was a basically a banner of the Dorset County Council Arms. Legally, this banner of the arms of the county council cannot be flown without their permission!
The design which prompted me to start promoting the Dorset Cross. This is a banner of the arms of Dorset County Council, not Dorset’s flag. This one is particularly generic as well – the three lions are more associated with England, rather than Dorset.
Whilst no one could answer the question, several people began writing in saying that there should be a Dorset flag and they wouldn’t be opposed to the creation of a Dorset flag. A few came up with some ideas, mainly by those that feel that the loss of the Devonshire and Dorset Army Regiment has lost some regional colours that could be well incorporated into a new flag.
In July, 2007, I wrote back to the Dorset Evening Echo with the design produced by Stephen Coombs and myself, which to my surprise they printed.
I registered http://www.flagfordorset.org.uk and thus the journey began for a new Dorset flag.
I created a forum hoping to stimulate discussion – but this seemed to largely fail due to apathy, so in communications with Jason Saber – we simply selected the best of the designs; St Wite’s Cross and began promotion.
Fate dictated that I should run into Chris Brown and Jacquie Hall, who ironically were doing the same thing with a different design. We joined forces and decided to keep pushing St Wite’s Cross, which we later renamed to the Dorset Cross.
As the press got hold of it, somewhat of a disaster occurred when Mr John Peake, of Dorset County Council made a press release indicating that he wanted to see many more designs from all over Dorset and that there would now be a competition and vote to select the best.
Although this was fair, we felt a little conned. Back in 2007, John had indicated that DCC had no authority to create a flag and effectively brushed the matter aside. We felt they’d somewhat jumped on the bandwagon. Nevertheless, the competition went ahead.
After much too-ing and fro-ing, a panel consisting of the Lord-Lieutenant , High Sheriff, Editors of Dorset Life and Dorset Echo, two members of the youth parliament and chaired by Graham Bartram of the Flag Institute selected four designs to be voted on – ours being one of them.
Voting started on 12th August and went through to 12th September. Votes were counted on the 16th September 2008. Some 4000 votes came in, although 200-odd were spoiled in one way or another.
However of the remaining votes, the Dorset Cross achieved 54% with 2086 votes. The next closest only achieved 22%(856 votes).
Thus announced that day, the Dorset Cross was now Dorset’s flag.