Olney's representative on Milton Keynes Council, Debbie Brock, is the new Mayor of the borough. She is the youngest person ever to be elected to the office.
During the Mayor-making ceremony, the Emberton resident was praised for her hard work and dedication. The former professional chef has travelled the world and is the mother of a two year old daughter. It was also noted that she brings a great deal of life experience to the role. A unanimous, cross-party vote supported her candidacy.
A packed public gallery at the Civic Hall in Milton Keynes witnessed the event. Many of Ms. Brock's family and friends from Olney watched the ceremony, including her parents. In her speech, Ms. Brock thanked them warmly for their support. Friends from the Emberton playgroup she helps run were also invited.
During her speech, the new Mayor outlined the important year ahead for Milton Keynes. There is to be new branding for the 'New city' and a bid for City status, as well as an International Festival in the summer. Milton Keynes also aims to be be a 'National Exemplar' for low carbon living. If England's bid for the World Cup is successful (an announcement is due in December) then Milton Keynes will have preparations for its role in the plans.
Debbie Brock also welcomed the young man selected as the 'Mayor’s Cadet'. She said: "Particularly in the times, in which we live, where so many servicemen and women are representing our country abroad I feel it is fitting to acknowledge their significant contribution in a civic way and for this year MC1 Tim Bell will be my Cadet. Tim is 15 years old and is a Royal Marine Cadet based at TS Whaddon at Kiln Farm in Milton Keynes. Tim will attend some civic functions with me this year while also concentrating on his studies for his ongoing exams."
The Mayor has selected as one of her themes for the year as the looked-after children in the care of the council. She said: "Becoming a parent for the first time myself a few years ago, made me realise the joys and responsibilities of parenthood. The children and young people that we as a council are responsible for need a lot of extra care and support... the Council is a corporate parent to 252 children in its care. We have the responsibility to ensure that the difficulties in these children’s lives are not compounded further by disadvantage in our care and it is the duty of each and every one of us to ensure their best possible start in life and it is our most important duty."
She also announced the winners of a competition to ask the children in care to say what they would do if they were Mayor. The winning entries were published in the evening's programme. The other theme will be cycling. "Milton Keynes has some of the best infrastructure to enable the modal shift from the car to the bike but this still needs to be promoted and that shift needs to happen. So in this year don’t be surprised if I get the opportunity to turn up to an event on a bike" she added.
Debbie Brock's husband, Peter Geary, who also sits on the Milton Keynes Council, will be her consort for the year. He presented flowers to the wife of the outgoing Mayor, Euan Henderson. Mr. Henderson thanked Ms. Brock for her support as his deputy during his year. He added that she had attended well over a hundred functions to assist him, some at very short notice.
Debbie Brock was returned as the councillor for Olney ward with a substantial majority in this month's elections. She also sits on Olney Town council (O.T.C). The chair of O.T.C and the Mayor of Olney, Mike Hughes attended the Mayor-making ceremony and praised Debbie Brock's achievement. (Mr. Hughes was re-elected as Mayor at this month's O.T.C meeting.)
The role of Mayor is an unsalaried, ceremonial role. As well as attending a wide range of events and visits to schools and local organisations, Debbie Brock will also Chair the meetings of the Milton Keynes Council. She has selected Willen Hospice and Bletchley Park code-breaking museum as her charities for the year.
Of Willen Hospice she said: "The Hospice receives limited funding from the NHS and relies heavily on all the great fundraising efforts that go on within our community. This year I therefore not only hope to raise money for the hospice, but also to keep it in the forefront of the public’s mind to keep the wider community effort ongoing."
The Mayor explained why she had also selected Bletchley Park: "The Park is one of the hidden secrets of Milton Keynes although historically it has probably done more to change the way we live our modern lives than anywhere else in the world. Bletchley Park whilst being a site of significant importance also has a history that is of national importance."
For more on the speech please see the next tab.