SUNDERLAND HAS A NEW MAYOR AND MAYORESS as Councillor Robert Heron and his wife Juliana officially took over the role in council tonight (Wednesday 15 May).
They took over the ceremonial chains of office from the outgoing Mayor and Mayoress Councillors Iain Kay and Barbara McClennan, with Councillor Stuart Porthouse and his wife Marie appointed as the new Deputy and Deputy Mayoress of Sunderland over the coming year.
The new Mayor and Mayoress’s family and friends gathered in the Council chamber at the civic centre to watch the ceremony, only weeks after seeing him zipwire from the Wearmouth Bridge to the quayside to raise money for charity.
Their guests included son Ziggy, daughters Juliana and Emma with eight year old grandsons Jake and Ciaran
Born in Hetton into a mining family of seven brothers and one sister, and brought up by their parents Jack and Nellie in a two-up, two down terraced house in Barrington Terrace the retired mechanical fitter is looking forward to the year ahead.
The new Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Robert (Bob) Heron said: “I will have the honour of representing our city as Mayor when we welcome the 4th Field Royal Artillery regiment for their Freedom Parade through our city centre (Saturday 29 June), and at the Sunderland Festival which will help us all to celebrate our 21st anniversary of city status.
“As ward councillor for Copt Hill, I always look forward to the Houghton Feast but this year it will be even more special. Another special occasion in our diary will be the 6Oth anniversary of our twinning with Saint Nazaire with visitors from our French twin town sharing in anniversary celebrations at the Sunderland Festival.
“The visitors will include teachers from Saint-Nazaire schools and Juliana was involved in tracing the Mayor of Saint-Nazaire’s exchange partner from his school visit to Sunderland in the 1950s during her time as Mayor ten years ago.
The Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Bob Heron added: “My time as Mayor of Sunderland will also allow me the chance to meet even more of the voluntary and community groups who do such fantastic work across our city and give them my support.
“I’ve chosen the Alzheimer’s Society, Samaritans (Sunderland) and Fibromoralgia research as my Mayoral Charities and hope people will help me raise as much money as I can for them during my term of office.”
With thirty years spent as a mechanical fitter first within the mining industry and then in local factories before he retired, the new Mayor was first elected as a councillor in 1991.
During his political career Councillor Heron has been involved with education, the environment and served as chair of the Scrutiny Committee and regional Fire and Travel Authorities.
The new Mayor took over the official chains of office and ceremonial robes from Councillor Iain Kay who along with his wife and Mayoress, Councillor Barbara McClennan served the city with such distinction over such a significant twelve months in the country’s history.
The former Mayor, Cllr Kay said: “It has certainly been a unique year from the point of view of landmark events such as the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and the country hosting the 2012 Olympics, and we’ve both been proud to represent the city as it played a full part in those national celebrations and events.
“Considering our city experienced record levels of wet weather, we accepted the challenge and made sure that events such as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s visit to our city and the Olympic torch relay were occasions for everyone to remember.
“Serving in the Mayoral Office was also a fabulous opportunity to become more involved in the civic life of the city, and meet the ‘unsung heroes’ who make such a massive contribution to life in their communities through the voluntary and charitable sector.”