Many thanks to everyone who helped make my year as Mayor of North Down such a success. I am confident that one year after becoming Mayor I leave a better and more united Borough following a positive year of progress focussed on building an inclusive, active and prosperous Borough.
Promoting inclusivity daily, I adopted ‘Working as One’ as my theme for the year undertaking over 700 engagements – including work with those in need on Christmas day – raising over £13,000 for charities and promoting courageous civic leadership for everyone.
Among my many highlights was the introduction of the Bangor parkrun, sailing a Catamaran, having the opportunity to meet HRH Princess Anne and Irish President Michael D Higgins, securing Bangor’s very own Culture Night and seeing the first sod cut on the new SERC Performing Arts Centre.
Last year I promised and this year I have delivered a positive legacy for everyone. Bangor Castle Town Hall has been opened up with many groups and individuals welcomed to the historic building, from the Orange Order, Ethnic Minorities, Faith Groups, Youth Organisations, the Royal British Legion, local Army representatives, and many Charities such as Guide Dogs for the Blind and the MS Society.
The role has also allowed me to help build an active Borough representing North Down at the World Police and Fire Games and the official opening of Bangor Aurora. But most of all I’m proud to have established Bangor’s own 5k parkrun, which in a matter of weeks has grown to become the second biggest in Northern Ireland. I’ve led from the front, ran 10k races, participated in Open Water Swims, sailed on a catamaran and volunteered for our local food bank, St Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army.
Working for everyone across North Down led me on many new paths not yet travelled by previous Mayors and I’m proud to have been the first to speak at St Paul’s Gaelic Athletic Club Awards in Bangor and later attended a match in Holywood. I also forged a productive working relationship with Belfast Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir promoting local businesses to a global audience. Engaging fully on social media I also promoted North Down beyond the borough, highlighting North Down as a great place to live, visit, work or invest.
I also want to thank everyone who has helped me complete a successful year, including my Mum who often acted as Mayoress and the many people who supported my charities – North Down YMCA, Camphill Communities and Mark Pollock Trust. Together we raised an unbelievable £13,000 for three fantastic groups that provide hope and inspiration to many.
But the hard work doesn’t stop now – there is still lots to be done and I’m looking forward to work getting underway on the new North Down and Ards Council. This is a clear opportunity for a new beginning to work together and deliver better services for citizens and businesses across the area.
Throughout my year as Mayor I’ve promoted my vision of what a shared and inclusive society for everyone can look like. I am delighted to have achieved such a positive progress, transforming the role and providing inspiration to many. I look forward to the time ahead focused on a number of new projects which I hope to deliver with the same passion and energy that I possessed when I started one year ago.