There is a sombre mood at the moment, with terrorist acts and a mood of Islamophobia in some quarters that threatens to divide our society. For this reason Richard took great pleasure in accepting an invitation from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association to attend their mosque in Willow Lane in Sutton on the evening of 15 June to break fast with them at sundown, during the holy month of Ramadan. In this photo he is inside the mosque with Nasser Butt, former Liberal Democrat Councillor for this Ward on the left as you look at the picture and, to the right, Naseer Dean, President of the London region of the Association.
About a week before I was elected Mayor in May 2016 I went to child-mind my grandson, something I have done every week so my daughter and son-in-law could go out to work. I found my daughter ill and took her to the doctor, who told me to take her immediately to the nearby accident and emergency department at St Thomas’s hospital. We arrived at noon and by 5pm they had diagnosed a brain tumour requiring immediate surgery.
If I had known of her illness about a week earlier I would have pulled out of being Mayor. But everything was set up and it was too late. In retrospect, that would have been a bad decision as the work involved in being Mayor was a great distraction over a very difficult twelve months. I stood down as Mayor on 22 May 2017 and the following day Jane was taken in by St Christopher’s hospice in Sydenham, where she died on 9 June.
Gloria and I have been overwhelmed by the expressions of condolence and support we have received, from so many local residents. Can I thank you all.
Richard completed his year as Mayor, and Gloria her year as Mayoress, on 22 May. Richard raised over £26 000 for his charity appeal for Sutton Shopmobility and the Alzheimer’s Society.
In the course of his Mayoral year Richard attended several hundred events in the Borough. The range of these events is enormous. They include:
- opening the various open-air festivals, carnivals and fêtes that are held in Sutton in the summer months
- opening new shops, pubs and business premises
- attending events at churches, mosques, the synagogue and schools
- attending school prizegiving evenings at most of our schools in Sutton
- taking part in many Citizenship ceremonies, at which local residents from distant parts of the world took British citizenship
- attending many 100th birthday parties
- attending scout camps
- attending award ceremonies, particularly for young people and for the many groups of cadets – police cadets, sea cadets, air cadets and the combined cadet forces of some of our schools
- turning on the Christmas lights, which he did four times.
And of course hundreds of events organised by the many voluntary groups in Sutton. And going to a few football and cricket matches, not just Sutton United but many local teams who have invited him to their games and to give out the awards at end-of-season prizegivings.
He has also represented the Borough at important events in London and in Surrey where the Borough should be represented, ranging from the pan-London Citizenship Ceremonies organised by the Mayor of London to more poignant occasions such as the service at Westminster Abbey to remember those killed in the terrorist action in Westminster last March.
He has also held receptions in the Mayor’s Parlour for about a dozen groups of people whose contribution to Sutton needs to be recognised – including carers, the local business community, food bank volunteers, the arts network, and of course Sutton United Football Club.
Richard recollects that there was a day in March when, in one day, he opened the new Poundland store in Sutton town centre, opened the Red Lion pub in Hackbridge which had been closed for re-furbishment, attended a 100th birthday party for a local resident, and held a reception for food bank volunteers in the Mayor’s Parlour. And there were two other invitations on that day that he had to pass to his Deputies as he could not fit them in. This demonstrates the demands on his time
Richard has had to do some challenging things as Mayor, including dressing up as Father Christmas to go out with the Sutton and Cheam Rotary Club collecting money for charity. This has left him with a rich fund of anecdotes about his discussions with small children when dressed as Father Christmas, which he offers to regale people with.
Richard sometimes had to chair the Annual General Meetings of local groups who have it in their constitution that the Mayor will chair their AGM. Chairing Council meetings is sometimes a bit tricky, so you would think that chairing the meetings of bodies like the Sutton Swimming Association, Sutton Seniors Forum and the Friends of Whitehall would be a doddle. It was not always so.
Richard said when he was elected that he hoped his Mayoralty would be remembered for some good music. There have been some great concerts to support his charity appeal, including by The Surrey Yeomanry Band, the Sutton Youth Wind Orchestra, The Phoenix Concert Band, the Norwood Wind Ensemble and the Show Choir – not to mention the group of musicians led by Richard that played Christmas carols in the St Nicholas Centre on several Saturdays before Christmas to raise funds, and the performance by the Clockhouse Choir at one of his dinners. Councillor Wendy Mathys attended all his concerts so deserves a special prize.
It has to be said that 2017 was a good year to be Mayor of Sutton as the year will be remembered as ranking alongside 1970 (remember Leeds United) and 1989 (remember Coventry City) as a year when Sutton United football club achieved great things in the FA Cup. The Mayor was one of the people guaranteed a ticket for the Sutton United v. Arsenal match, when the team acquitted themselves with honour, so a good year to be Mayor. There was worldwide interest in the Arsenal match, so much so that before the match he was much in demand for interviews on the general theme of “where is Sutton?”. He was interviewed by radio and TV teams from, amongst other places, Turkey, Russia and South Korea.
Richard’s charity appeal has raised over £26 000 for his two excellent charities.
Many Sutton South residents will know our principal neighbourhood police officer, Police Constable Mark Towler. Mark has for many years been our Police Constable, a man who knows our area like the back of his hand and who has made a great contribution to keeping the local community safe. While nowhere has zero crime and we can never be complacent, the borough of Sutton is one of the safest in London and Sutton South Ward one of the safest Wards in Sutton.
On 11 May Richard attended, as Mayor of Sutton, the Metropolitan Police Service Sutton Borough Commander’s Commendation Ceremony, where a number of serving police officers from Sutton and some members of the public received awards in recognition of their service to our community. The Mayor is invited to present these awards. This service ranged from acts of bravery to prevent crime to systematic action and campaigns to reduce crime. We are delighted that PC Towler received an award, recognising his work to reduce crime in our area, the citation reading “commended for motivation, commitment and drive to reduce anti-social behaviour in Sutton South ward linked to the supply of drugs, through the use of search warrants and arrest of offenders, improving the quality of life for his residents.”
Contact Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org and Trish at email@example.com
Richard’s charitable appeal, as Mayor of Sutton for 2016-17, to support Sutton Shopmobility and the Alzheimer’s Society, raised over £26000.
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Sutton South Hello!
Find out about this pioneering local initiative to combat loneliness in Sutton
Public Art in Sutton South
Some of Sutton South Ward’s best public artwork
Richard reports back on his recent activities
Contact details and information on our local police force
Who Are We?
Trish and Richard introduce themselves
On 30 March one of the oldest residents of our Ward, Ethel Hansford, celebrated her 100th birthday. Congratulations Ethel. Ethel once worked at Croydon airport, and now lives in Thomas House in Grange Road. Ethel is mobile and has many great recollections of her interesting past.
Richard had a very busy day. In the morning he opened the new Poundland store in Sutton. There was a queue of over 100 waiting to go in when the store opened. This was not the only new establishment in Sutton that he opened on that day, opening the refurbished Red Lion pub in Hackbridge that evening. In the afternoon he attended Ethel’s 100th birthday party. Later in the evening he hosted a reception for food bank volunteers in the Mayor’s Parlour.
Sutton South Ward has one of the oldest age profiles of any Ward in Sutton. The many care homes and blocks of sheltered accommodation in the Ward partly explain why we have a more elderly population, but there are also many elderly people living in their own homes. We want to enable people to live in their homes for as long as they can, which is why Sutton Council is one of the only London Councils to fund Admiral nurses. These are specialist nurses trained assisting those with dementia, working closely with families and carers to help people to live at home. We are proud to be members of a Council that provides such help, despite the severe financial squeeze the Council is facing, as an expression of our Liberal Democrat values.