In May 2018 I was elected Deputy Mayor for the London Borough of Barnet, a long two years ago! The year was filled with such interesting events and special occasions. Generally, in Barnet you take a few years off before considering becoming the Mayor, but I was very honoured to be elected the 55th Mayor on the 21st May 2019. I feel very proud that I not only represent Barnet, but also Totteridge. I was born at Victoria Maternity Hospital, went to St. Andrew’s School together with my future husband and love the area so much that I have never moved away!
The day after the “Mayor Making” I hit the ground running with a full week of engagements. I think the first visit encapsulates what the mayoralty is all about. This visit was to Mapledown School, which is an exceptional institution filled with an inspiring group of teachers, support staff and parents. I was accompanied by my husband Richard, who has supported me continuously over the two years, and that has meant a huge amount to me. We were driven in a hybrid Volvo and greeted outside by a smiling headmaster who explained what was going to happen during the visit. The school caters for children with very serious needs, but being shown round it melted my heart to see what can be achieved when a group of caring people come together and have a passion for what they believe in. During the tour we were introduced to the children and many of the staff. I had been asked to make a speech, which I always spend time thinking about and researching if I am given prior notice! However, I always find out about each event prior to attending, as I take this part of the job very seriously. This pays off when I am asked to “just say a few words!”
I am very aware that the position of the First Citizen of the Borough is not about me, but about “The Mayor” coming along to a function and somehow sprinkling some fairy dust on the occasion. Whether it is at a 105th birthday celebration in a care home, opening a new leisure centre, giving out prizes at a school, or leading the brave AJEX soldiers from Horse Guards Parade to the Cenotaph.
From the beginning of March a cloud descended on the world. We had just managed to wave goodbye to a Cypriot Delegation from Morphou, one of Barnet’s nine twin towns, when COVID19 struck. My duties since then have totally changed. I have produced a number of videos with targeted messages, attend virtual events and have helped out making meals for vulnerable people. The Finale Mayor’s Gala dinner in aid of my two chosen charities, Cherry Lodge Cancer Care and Home-Start Barnet, also became a virtual event. With the support of friends, colleagues and sheer determination we have raised (to date) nearly £57,000. Both charities are currently in much need of this financial help. The Mayoral year has now been extended until September and I hope to carry out whatever is asked of me, as I feel very privileged to have been elected to this wonderful role.