On Thursday 19th May 2016 I was elected to be the Mayor of Darlington, with my wife Councillor Doris Jones B.E.M as my Mayoress. This blog is intended as a journal of the engagements carried out by the Mayor and Mayoress with occasional comments.
During his time in office, Brian will carry out approximately 350 civic engagements - in effect, dedicating a year of his life to the Mayoralty. This leaflet [pdf document] outlines the role of the Mayor; his main aims; the charities, organisations and people he is supporting; and how your help and support can make a really huge difference.
The Mayor’s Role – Speeches
The role of the Mayor is to assist you in celebrating and recognizing achievements and milestones. As the First Citizen the protocol should be for the Mayor to formally open an event or welcome guests or maybe present awards. Given the numerous and varied events each year we appreciate that every function is unique. Please feel free to contact the Mayor’s Office if you need to discuss arrangements. If the Mayor is asked to speak then background information is always welcome
Thursday 2 February
- Not Mayoral, but I looked into the Volunteering Fair in Central Hall and was amazed at the number of visitors and how busy the exhibitors were. I sincerely hope they were able to sign up lots on new volunteers.
- This evening to Ripon Cathedral for a Candlemas Service. The Cathedral was lit with literally thousands of candles, creating an incredible atmosphere in this wonderful building.
Saturday 4 February
- From one wonderful Cathedral to another. This evening we were in Durham for the Festival of Youth Choirs organised by our good friends the Durham Music Service. Every choir was excellent in their own right but the finale with 500 voices and the organ performing Zadok the Priest was truly spectacular. Musical Director Michael Summers produced yet another wonderful evening of music. Thank you.
- The Darlington Mayor’s Schools’ Eurovision Song Contest was one of the highlights of the Mayoral year for Tom Nutt last year and it was an easy decision to repeat it this year. Although we didn’t have the use of the Civic Theatre, we were able to transform the sports hall in the Dolphin Centre into a great venue with about 800 people filling it to watch the show. I was joined by the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham Sue Snowdon, the Mayors and Mayoresses from Hartlepool and Stockton and Peter Barron from the Northern Echo was there as compere. A big thank you to Colin Fyfe from the Darlington Building Society for their sponsorship, and the five judges who had a difficult task choosing the first three places. The biggest thank you goes to Peter King, head teacher at Mowden for once again choosing the countries and songs together with some background information. I can only describe it as a fabulous evening with every school doing their very best to win. Sadly, there could be only one winner and this year it was St Augustine’s RC Primary school. Hopefully the contest will go ahead again next year.
Sunday 12 February
- To All Saints Church, Hurworth today for the Licensing and Installation of The Reverend Adrian Thorp as Interim Priest in Charge of Dinsdale with Sockburn with Hurworth in Plurality, and Middleton St George, and The Licensing of The reverend Helen Thorp as Interim Associate Minister of Dinsdale with Sockburn with Hurworth in Plurality, and Middleton St George. As ward councillors for Middleton St George, we welcome Adrian and Helen to the Parish and look forward to working with them.
Monday 13 February
- I was recently approached by a mature student who is in his 3rd year of a BA (Hons) course in photography and wanted to add some photo’s of me for his final exhibition to be displayed in the brand new College of Art and Design in Hartlepool. I haven’t seen the finished products yet, but as they were going on display in Hartlepool I suggested he should contact their Mayor to include him also.
Wednesday 15 February
- A meeting in the parlour with my Mayoral Chaplain Sheilagh Williamson to discuss arrangements for my Civic Service of Thanksgiving to be held in St Andrew’s, Sadberge on 2nd April.
- Followed by a meeting with our Deputy Mayor and Consort Councillors Jan and Chris Taylor. It’s probably the first time two councillors married to fellow councillors have become successive mayors.
- Then a trip to Cramlington to support the Chairman of Northumberland County Council at a fundraising night playing ten pin bowling. Unfortunately the Chairman Alan Sambrook couldn’t take part following a broken leg in three places after slipping on ice. Ouch!
Thursday 16 February
- A very special event this evening spent at the home of the High Sheriff of Durham Gerard Salvin and his wife Georgina. The night was made extra special because we were joined by our Lord Lieutenant Sue Snowdon and her husband Keith. There was also the Chairman of Durham and the Mayors of Hartlepool and Stockton, so we were in excellent company and there was never a dull or quiet moment.
Friday 17 February
- Travelled to Fire HQ at Durham this morning to support Eddie and Jennifer Bell (Chairman and wife of Durham) who had a fundraising coffee morning. They tragically lost a grand daughter last year and are setting up a bereavement service in the Seaham area. The morning was incredibly well attended and somewhere in the region of £1,600 was raised! Well done both and good luck with you plans.
- This afternoon there was a special council meeting to discuss the future of the NHS locally and such was the interest that both the chamber and public gallery were full with a list of over 20 people wanting to speak.
- Then down to York for a civic dinner with the Chairman of North Yorkshire County Council Val Arnold and husband Steve.
Saturday 18 February
- Trish Pemberton the mayor of Shildon had arranged a valentines ball in the Civic Hall and had clearly put a lot of work into the evening. We’re not used to so many late nights and were struggling a little bit.
Sunday 19 February
- Down to Ripon this morning for a Church Service for the Mayor. The Church was Holy Trinity and although it looked old on the outside, the interior had obviously had a lot of work done. There was a very high and beautifully decorated ceiling, a mezzanine area and the basement or cellar had been opened up into a great tea room and community facility.
Wednesday 22 February
- The Mayor of Barnard castle Councillor John Blissett had issued a challenge to a quiz night in the cricket club and we duly took him up on it. We shared with the Mayors and Mayoresses of Hartlepool and Hetton. Going into the final round we were in second place and somehow, that’s where it all went wrong. Needless to say, we didn’t win anything.
- Today was also the main day for hurricane ‘Doris’. My wife took an awful lot of leg pulling
Thursday 23 February
- Hurricane Doris was also present today on the sea front at Roker where we joined the Mayor of Sunderland for a gin and tea afternoon. The Roker Hotel distils its own gin on the premises and we were able to sample some of it. I’m not normally a gin drinker and although I enjoyed trying some, it’s not something that I’m likely to drink on a regular basis.
Friday 24 February
- Our first visit to Wynyard Hall for the Stockton Mayor’s ball. It was very well attended with guests including our Lord Lieutenant and Sir John Hall.
Saturday 25 February
- Another black tie evening, this tie to the mayor of Great Aycliffe’s ball at the Hallgarth Hotel, Coatham Mundeville. Another very enjoyable evening spent in good company and raising funds for good causes.
Monday 27 February
- An Indian Supper in Hartlepool tonight with the Mayor and Mayoress Councillor Rob and Mrs Brenda Cook. I’m not an avid fan of Indian food, but this was very good.
Tuesday 28 February
- I thought we should pay a visit to St Augustine’s school this morning to congratulate the choir on winning the Mayor’s schools Eurovision contest. What I hadn’t been aware of on the night was that the background music they sang to was in a different key to their rehearsal music, so, although it posed some problems they just got on with the job and still won! This morning we were given a repeat performance with the correct music and it was fabulous. Well done!