IT IS OBVIOUS from talking to the Hedon Mayor, Councillor Jim Lindop, and his Mayoress Sue Lindop, that they are both extremely proud of the honour bestowed on Jim of becoming the 666th Mayor of Hedon. They take on the roles after having had the experience of being Mayor and Mayoress last year.
Wikipedia tells us that the word ‘Mayor’ is derived from the Latin māior, meaning “greater” and describes the highest-ranking officer in a municipal government of a town or a large urban city. Jim and Sue would laugh at the idea of being thought off as greater than anyone else, in fact they are at pains to emphasise that they are very ordinary people; “We’re very approachable!” beams Sue “We’re keen to meet people and explain what the Mayor does.” It is this approachability, and their willingness to share their experiences of what the Mayoral function is, that became the hallmark of Jim and Sue’s tenure as Mayor and Mayoress in their first year of office. They have certainly challenged those who may think that the Mayoral role is – or ought to be – something that is shrouded in civic reverence and aloofness.
I met Jim and Sue at their home in Merryman Garth and it is very clear that they have enjoyed their experiences and duties last year when Jim was the 665th Mayor:
“The role actually started some 9 – 10 months before we knew I would be Mayor,” says Jim “the Diamond Jubilee celebrations had to be organised, and with the key role played by the staff in the office, it became the main event of our first year. The tug-of-war competition, the fireworks display, everything came together for a perfect day enjoyed by everyone.”
“We have attended dozens of civic functions representing the town, we have donated to hundreds of raffles and have sung hundreds of hymns! We have met some great people and attended some wonderful events.” Jim talks about some of the lasting friendships he and Sue have made during the year – and whilst they are not ones to name-drop, I can tell you this includes Lord Lieutenants, High Sheriffs and Lord Mayors! In particular they mention an emotional memorial they attended to Canadian and US spitfire pilots killed in the war; as well as a fly-past by a spitfire they had the honour of meeting pilots from the two countries and the spitfire flight.
The restoration of Horsewell Pond on Ivy Lane is something that they have championed last year and hope to see completed this year. “The pond is dear to our hearts,” says Sue “we hope that will be our legacy.” Jim talks enthusiastically about returning permanent water to the pond and waxes technically about “swales, trenches, filter beds, and special plants”. He is particularly pleased about the volunteers who have helped out digging and weeding, especially from his sons Jamie and Adam’s rugby team, BPRUFC.
The upgrading of facilities at the Skate Park is another key project taking up their time. As parents and grandparents they recognise the need for better and more modern facilities for the children in Hedon. When I ask what they do to relax, Jim jokes; “Relax! Relax!? – with three grandkids!? I don’t think so!” Family is very important to them personally, but as representatives of the town they want to see the ideas of young people incorporated more into the town’s decision-making, particularly on the Skate Park. Jim says, “We want the kids to come and tell us their ideas about which designs they want for the skate park, and when it’s built, help us to look after it.”
The traditional events that make up the Mayor’s calendar include the Mayormaking and Penny Throwing ceremonies, the Mayor’s Civic Sunday Parade, the Remembrance Parade and the Switching on of the Christmas lights. Jim and Sue pay particular tribute to those in the Town Hall office who help make these things happen; the Town Clerk, Joanna Richardson, and her Assistant Joanne Irvin and Secretary Sandy Dale. They also thank Councillor John Dennis and wife Jennifer for their support as Deputy Mayor and Mayoress, and Councillor Ann Suggit for her invaluable advice throughout the year.
There is a perception that the role and activities of the Mayor and Mayoress are financed totally from Hedon Town Council, and an allowance is given to help with costs through the year, but funding for anything extra has to be provided by the mayor and mayoress. Additionally, last year Sue and Jim raised over £2,000 for cancer charities, and this year intend to include local children’s projects in their lists of good causes to support.
The Hedon Mayor and Mayoress describe themselves as “ordinary people”. I would disagree, I think they are an extraordinary couple involved in a unique ambassadorial role for the town. They are really quite special people deserving of our support in promoting our special place – Hedon!
Ray Duffill interviewed the Mayor and Mayoress – June 2013