Proposing the 380th Mayor of Chesterfield

Recently I was privileged to be asked to make the speech proposing Glenys Falconer to be the 380th Mayor of Chesterfield. I was especially delighted to do so because I have known Glenys both as a friend and as a committed Lib Dem campaigner ever since the 1980’s. The interview below, which originally appeared on the Chesterfield Lib Dem website, expands on just a few of the reasons why Glenys will be such a good Mayor.

Glenys refers to being the fourth female Lib Dem Mayor in the last 15 years and the other three were all likewise long-standing fellow campaigners and friends. Trudi, who sadly died a few years ago, was one of the first two Liberal Cllrs to be elected in Chesterfield since WW2. That was in the 1970’s but she then moved away to live and work in Birmingham. Upon ‘retiring’ back to Chesterfield in the 1990’s we then quickly got her re-elected back on to the Council in a by election. That was to replace Jo White, one of the youngest Cllrs in England when she was first elected, much to the disgust of the crusty Tory Cllr who she defeated. Jo however then moved in order to work for Don Foster MP in Bath.

June was first elected to the Council in 1987 at the same time as myself and is President of the Local Party today. Maureen wrote an article in the first Focus leaflet to be issued in Chesterfield back in the 1970’s and today is Deputy Leader of the Council Group. Cllr Shirley Niblock who produced the interview below is a relative newcomer having been recruited to stand in a Target Ward in 2011. Newer Cllrs include Maggie Kellman, Katherine Hollingworth, Kelly Thornton and Emily Coy, all first elected in 2019. Oh -and the new Deputy Mayor is Tony Rogers who was first elected as a Cllr (in Devon) in the 1960’s!

What is the common thread in these Cllrs? Some originated in the Liberal Party of the 1960/70’s. Others, like June and myself were motivated by the SDP in the 1980’s. Others are new Lib Dems in recent years. All though are good colleagues, hard-working community campaigners and committed Liberal Democrats.

Glenys is interviewed by Shirley Niblock, Equality and Diversity Lead for Chesterfield Liberal Democrats

Q First of all congratulations on being elected as Mayor of Chesterfield. What does that mean to you?

Glenys – I hope as Mayor I can promote the Borough and the Mayoralty and in doing so bring some cheer during this unhappy period we are going through.

I’m really looking forward to taking on this role as I will be the 4th female Lib Dem Mayor in 15 years after June Beckingham (who then became the first Alderwoman), Trudi Mulcaster and Maureen Davenport. I’m walking in the footsteps of Violet Markham and Florence Robinson, so I want to be a positive role model for my female colleagues to encourage them to take up positions of authority when it is offered.

Q How do you get to be the Mayor of Chesterfield?

Glenys – The position is offered to the longest serving Councillor who has not been Mayor before and if there are several Councillors eligible for the role at the same time, the selection is based on alphabetical order.

I will be the 380th Mayor and with Keith as my Consort, we will be the 1st Lib Dem couple who have both been Mayors. Keith was Mayor in 2005-2006 so we are very proud of our contribution to the Mayoralty.

Q It must have been very difficult to decide on the charities you are going to support?

Glenys – After a lot of thought I selected The Samaritans and The Volunteer Centre both of which have not been chosen by previous Mayors.

The Volunteer Centre is one because they use Rose Hill Church for their Be-Friending Service. Through helping them with this for several years it has made me realise how many lonely people benefit from this support. And the Volunteer Centre needs all the financial help it can get for that service to continue.

I chose the Samaritans because having experienced the effects of suicide in our family I wanted to highlight their work so hopefully more people will ring them to get help and advice to prevent other people suffering a loss like we did.

Q If you could invite a famous politician from the past or current times, who would you invite to dinner and why?

Glenys – My first invitee would be Baroness Shirley Williams Liberal Democrat, 50 years in politics and a Christian. She was the first woman politician who impressed me and she has a great sense of humour.

Baroness Floella Benjamin would be my next choice. Born in Trinidad and a member of the Windrush generation she started her career working in a bank, became an actor singer and then a presenter in children’s TV. I always enjoyed watching her in Play School and Play Away with my Children.

My last choice is Mark Steel, a political comedian and broadcaster. I find him passionate about his ideas but very funny. I heard him on Radio 4 he was visiting various towns appeared to make a quick assessment in his visits especially the more amusing attributes which meet the approval of the local audience

I think you’ll agree it would be a very entertaining dinner.

Thank You so much Glenys for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. We all hope you enjoy being the First Citizen of Chesterfield and raise lots of money to help your chosen charities.

* Paul Holmes is the former MP for Chesterfield and currently leads a 17 strong Council Group.

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