New mayors take the chair

Banbury Cake: The new Lord Mayor of Oxford Dee Sinclair with her deputy Tony Brett, right, and outgoing Lord Mayor Mohammed Abbasi, who will serve in the ceremonial role of City Sheriff for a year. Picture: OX59286 Damian Halliwell Buy this photo » The new Lord Mayor of Oxford Dee Sinclair with her deputy Tony Brett, right, and outgoing Lord Mayor Mohammed Abbasi, who will serve in the ceremonial role of City Sheriff for a year. Picture: OX59286 Damian Halliwell

THE NEW Lord Mayor of Oxford was formally appointed at the city council’s annual meeting on Monday.

Dee Sinclair succeeds Mohammed Abbasi who took up temporary office in March.

The new mayor has admitted she feels daunted by the role but is looking forward to it. “My main aim is to make a difference,” she said.

One of the ways she hopes to achieve that is by supporting two city charities – Crisis Skylight and Maggie’s Oxford.

She said: “I really wanted to find a charity for the homeless and then I came across Crisis Skylight Oxford, which is a wonderful charity,” she said.

Of Maggie’s Oxford, which is building a new care centre at the Churchill Hospital to offer support and advice to people with cancer, she said: “It’s there to help anyone affected by cancer and I have had personal experience with cancer so it’s important to me”, she said.

In her year as Lord Mayor, Mrs Sinclair hopes to meet “lots of people who live and visit Oxford, particularly young people.” She added: “As a retired schoolteacher I have quite an affinity for children, especially those who have been in vulnerable situations.”

She would also like to work with elderly people who are living in isolation during her year as Lord Mayor.

Mohammed Abbasi, who passed the mayor’s chain to Mrs Sinclair, said being Lord Mayor was a “fantastic experience” even if only for a short time.

He took over the role after former Lord Mayor Alan Armitage stood down in the wake of inappropriate comments he made to a schoolgirl at an event he attended as Lord Mayor.

Mr Abbasi said: “The highlight for me was when I got to meet the Queen at Christ Church’s Maundy Service.

“She gave me a huge smile and really engaged with everyone at the event.

“It’s clear that she is a very kind person,” he said.

Mr Abbasi also counts his visit to Leiden in Holland, one of Oxford’s twin cities, among his highlights.

“Every day brought opportunities to meet new people, but unfortunately my short time as Lord Mayor is up,” he said.

He has taken over as City Sheriff, who carries out a number of ceremonial duties during the year, including standing in for the Lord Mayor or deputy Lord Mayor on occasions and running the annual round-up of illegally grazed animals on Oxford’s historic Port Meadow.

ABINGDON

OUTGOING

Monica Lovatt, 66, town councillor.

“I would say my memorable moments have been celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee and the freedom and homecoming events for the Logistics Support Regiment. As an ex-Army wife, those events had real meaning for me.”

INCOMING

Samantha Bowring, 43, part-time administrator at Oxford University.
“I want the town to have a community conversation.
Organisations I’m interested in supporting this year are the Abingdon Scouts and Guides and the Abingdon Community Hospital League of Friends.”

BANBURY

OUTGOING

Tony Illot, 62, beauty salon owner.

“I think it was a very good year to be a town mayor because we’ve had the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics. I’ve also been tempted by 113 pieces of cake at all the charity events and functions I’ve attended.”

INCOMING

Nicholas Turner, 51, proprietor at Drayton Leisure Golf Club

“I’m looking forward to my role, especially as I’m going to be introducing three awards – for an individual, a group and a youngster who have all done great charitable or voluntary work.”

BICESTER

OUTGOING

Dan Sames, 40, senior programme administrator at Oxford Brookes University.

“My biggest achievement was raising a great amount for really good charities, one of which is the 23 Pioneer Regiment Benevolent Fund. It was quite poignant attending the memorial service of a soldier who died in Afghanistan. That really brought things home to me.”

INCOMING

Melanie Magee, 42, HR manager at Oxford and Cherwell Valley College.

“I’m really looking forward to being mayor. A charity I’m supporting is Medical Detection Dogs. Its aim is to train specialist dogs to detect the odour of human disease. I’m also looking at ways to get youngsters into apprenticeships.”

DIDCOT

OUTGOING

Peter Read, 73, retired.

“It’s been absolutely terrific. Didcot is a very intelligent, active town with a huge number of charity events and organisations. The schools are fantastic and it’s a dynamic town.”

INCOMING

Axel Macdonald, 50, radiation protection adviser at Public Health England

“I’m going to be promoting the Felix Fund and the Balsam Family Project. The Felix Fund is about helping victims and families of bomb disposal.
The Balsam Family Project is a matter of helping parents, particularly single parents, to have a good relationship with their child.”

WALLINGFORD

OUTGOING

Ros Lester

“My role as mayor has been very humbling. I’ve met so many volunteers in the community who have helped put on great events like the Wallingford BunkFest, the Wallingford carnival and so many other events. I would love to be mayor again.”

INCOMING

Bernard Stone, 69, retired.

“My main desire is for unity and harmony. We’ve got to keep the community vibrant. An old Waitrose site has been empty for years in the town and I’d like to encourage a new function for the site.”

WANTAGE

OUTGOING

Charlotte Dickson, 45, district and town councillor and mother of two.

“I had a fantastic time, and I was very busy. My first event was giving the Scots Guards the freedom on the town, and I also oversaw the Jubilee and the royal wedding so I feel very fortunate. I am sad to be leaving but Fiona will be a worthy follower.”

INCOMING

Fiona Roper, freelance copywriter and editor.

“We want to introduce King Alfred’s Day because he was born in Wantage. It would be something to celebrate in October, maybe with battle re-enactments, a bake off and a fancy dress competition. We also want to put together a neighbourhood plan because we have a lot of new housing developments.”

WITNEY

OUTGOING
Harry Eaglestone, 78, retired.

“One of my biggest achievements was that I was the first mayor to be involved with the civic services held at the High Street Methodist Church. I’ve got mixed emotions about handing over the chain but I wish every success to the new mayor.”

INCOMING

Pete Dorward, 55, driving instructor and RAF reservist.

“I haven’t really had time to formulate my thoughts yet but I have chosen some charities. These are Combat Stress and Volunteer Link-Up. The reason I am supporting Combat Stress is because of my close connections to the military.”

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