Littlehampton mayor bids farewell with a full heart

Jill Long said her time as mayor has been an unforgettable rollercoaster ride 'L22832H14

Jill Long said her time as mayor has been an unforgettable rollercoaster ride 'L22832H14

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SHE has been shackled in the stocks, dressed as Santa and pictured partying with a giant hedgehog.

But tomorrow evening (May 21) will be the final engagement for Littlehampton’s mayor, Jill Long.

“This town has so much to offer. It’s steeped in history. I think we have got a wonderful future – one I will be keeping an eye on.”

Jill Long, outgoing mayor

Jill has been the town’s first lady for 12 months and it’s a role she has become greatly attached to.

“It’s just been an astounding experience,” she told the Gazette this week. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity to get to know the town and people of the town as well as see all the organisations that do so much good.

“It’s really been an incredible experience.”

Jill described her time in office as ‘hectic’.

And it’s understandable why. Since taking up the role on May 29, last year, she has attended upwards of 140 engagements to represent the town and its people.

“It’s been incredibly hectic work and really demanding,” she added. “But I have loved every minute of it.”

However, Jill, who has lived in the area for about 30 years, admitted tomorrow’s farewell would be an emotional one.

She said she was bitterly disappointed not to be re-elected to Littlehampton Town Council.

A visibly emotional Jill added: “In one way it will be very sad. It was hard news to take.

“But on the other side I have had a wonderful four years as councillor and mayor and I certainly have no regrets.”

She said she was delighted to be handing over the chain of office to fellow Conservative, Marian Ayres.

For Jill, her time as mayor will be one that will stick with her and said she had been privileged to experience so many historic moments in the town.

From her time representing Littlehampton at memorial services, commemorating the century of the First World War, to the stunning Armed Forces Day celebration and the popular Town Show and Family Fun Day.

However, for Jill, the most memorable moment of her mayoralty came from her very first public engagement.

She was out visiting youngsters from the Littlehampton disabilities group, Enable Me, to find out more about the charity’s inclusive youth club sessions.

“Just watching how disabled and able-bodied children were interacting and getting on you couldn’t tell one from the other. It was inspiring.”

She added that this experience helped to give her a surge of confidence to join so many other events.

But as well as seeing some of the incredible people that make up the town, Jill was also raising cash for causes close to her heart.

In her year, she has raised about £2,000 which will be split between the 5th Littlehampton Sea Scouts, 4th Littlehampton Scouts and 7th Littlehampton Air Scouts.

“I know this money will make a real benefit to them.”

Jill wished to thank all those who served alongside her, as well as all those who made her year so special.

She added that she hoped to one day be re-elected to the town council but would be relishing her break from the office.

Her final message to the town was one of optimism.

“This town has so much to offer,” she said. “It’s steeped in history. I think we have got a wonderful future – one I will be keeping an eye on.”