MAYOR’S MOMENT: Beginnings, endings and carrying on

Billy with Tracey Baker, the new deputy mayor of Littlehampton
Billy with Tracey Baker, the new deputy mayor of Littlehampton

I had planned that this would be the last Mayor’s Moment I would be writing, wrapping up my year in office, reporting on my final engagements, handing over to the next mayor of Littlehampton and wishing them well for their year ahead.

However, plans sometimes have to change and so this will not be my last time reporting to you as mayor, instead I shall continue for the year ahead having been re-elected at the annual meeting of the town council on Thursday evening.

Billy with the chairman and councillors of Arun District Council and the team at the Foreshore office on the promenade for the raising of the flag in recognition of the town's Seaside Award.

Billy with the chairman and councillors of Arun District Council and the team at the Foreshore office on the promenade for the raising of the flag in recognition of the town's Seaside Award.

It is normal that the deputy mayor would automatically be the mayor elect for the following year, however due to personal reasons councillor Dr James Walsh felt it would be impossible for him to attend all the events that go with the job.

I take this opportunity to thank my fellow councillors for entrusting me with this role for a further term and will serve my town to the best of my abilities.

I also thank Dr Walsh for his support over the past year and know this was not an easy decision for him to make as he did not want to let down the community he has served so well for many years.

Rewinding to Monday I started my week by joining members of the Littlehampton University of the Third Age for a coffee morning at the VIP Club at the Vardar Restaurant.

Billy with Mark Biggs at Biggs Bakery in Wick. Mark presented Billy with a cheque for �120 towards mayoral fundraising efforts from the sale of mayor's cakes

Billy with Mark Biggs at Biggs Bakery in Wick. Mark presented Billy with a cheque for �120 towards mayoral fundraising efforts from the sale of mayor's cakes

The coffee morning was well attended and I spoke with many members about what the group has to offer. The message I was getting was that there is something for everyone, and if there isn’t they will work with you and support to set a group up to do a new activity. A number of the members mentioned their yoga classes and about a trip they arranged to the Isle of Wight.

On Tuesday I met with the team from St Barnabas House hospice’s Outreach Project outside Sainsbury’s. I had been invited to write on their Before I Die board as part of their efforts for Dying Matters Awareness Week.

While not possibly a subject everyone wants to think about or feels comfortable talking about, it is something that cannot always be ignored and they are on hand to listen and help with information on this challenging topic.

While there I had a good chat with the team who have information about all types of different organisations not just cancer support.

On Wednesday I was invited to Arun District Council’s annual meeting where Jacky Pendleton finished her term as chairman of the council. It has been lovely to get to know her over the past year as part of the ‘chain gang’.

I would like to congratulate Jacky on raising more than £4,000 for the charities she has been raising funds for over the past year. Our own town councillor Alan Gammon was voted in as the new chairman and will be raising funds for Littlehampton and Bognor Shopmobility.

I wish him well in his year ahead and hope he enjoys it – he will be joined by councillor Pat Dillon as new deputy chairman.

On Thursday morning I joined the chairman and Councillors of Arun District Council, and the team at the foreshore office on the promenade for the raising of the flag in recognition of the town’s Seaside Award.

Following this, Mark Biggs at Biggs Bakery in Wick presented me with a cheque for £120 towards my fundraising efforts from the sale of mayor’s cakes they have been selling during my term. A big thank you to Mark and all at Biggs Bakery.

That evening it was the annual meeting of the town council where I gave a speech summarising my year as mayor which I had thoroughly enjoyed.

I was pleased to present the last two Town Merit Awards to Martin Tillman in recognition of his 37 years of dedication to the Littlehampton Red Cross, and for long standing support to groups in Littlehampton, and to Daphne Snowden for more than 60 years of service to the Royal British Legion and for support to many other charities.

I was finally able to reveal the grand sum of £10,524.08 has been raised for the Friends of Mewsbrook Park and the Littlehampton Heritage Railway Association during my term as mayor and will be divided equally between the two groups.

I said many thanks to all that have been a part of my term as mayor as I have had a lot of support.

Following this, councillor Tracey Baker was elected as the new deputy mayor of Littlehampton and is looking forward to accompanying me to some of the engagements through the year and any that I may not be able to attend.

On Saturday I attended my first engagement in my new term as mayor at Mewsbrook Park to wave off Toby and Si who are embarking on a charity drive through 15 countries in just seven days, raising funds for St Barnabas.

They are hoping to raise £5000, and to help support this a fun day had been arranged at the park with raffles, tombolas, plant sale and lots of fun things for the kids to do. I wish them well and hope they hit their target.

That afternoon, accompanied by Tracey Baker, we had the pleasure of attended a service of Thanksgiving, to mark the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Air Force at Chichester Cathedral.

This service was hosted by the Sussex Wing of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets. It was a lovely service and was a pleasure to meet with fellow dignitaries and representatives of the RAF past and present.

It would be amiss of me to not congratulate Prince Harry and Meghan on their wedding, and I wish them a lifetime of happiness together.

I was particularly pleased to learn of them becoming the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. I feel this is wonderful news to end on and hope their diaries are busy in the coming years with many visits to our lovely county – and that they know the words to Sussex By the Sea.

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