SOUTH Tyneside Mayor, Coun Ernest Gibson, may be about to step down – but he’s been busy saying ‘thank you’.
Coun Gibson, and Mayoress, Patricia Ridley, will tonight hand over their chains of office to a new Mayor and Mayoress.
But in the run-up to their final day, the couple have been out and about visiting businesses and organisations who have helped make their year a success.
Since, the pair were handed the chains last May, they have been involved in a range of fundraising activities and visiting scores of groups and voluntary organisations in the borough.
They have also hosted tours of South Shields Town Hall for people of all ages.
Among their final visits was to collect charity tins which have been placed at businesses around the borough.
Not missing a trick, the Mayor also took the chance to plug his CD which is raising money for the Mayor’s Charity.
The Mayor’s Song is a collaboration between young people from South Tyneside and the Mayor.
This year, his charity is supporting Cancer Connections, St Clare’s Hospice, Great North Air Ambulance and the Cystic Fibrosis Fund.
Coun Gibson said: “I have been so honoured to have been given this opportunity to be the borough’s first citizen.
“Both myself and Patricia have met some fantastic people over this past year – it is just a shame it is now coming to an end.
“But we have some brilliant memories to take away with us, and this all down to the kindness of the people of the borough who have really made our mayoral year something special and memorable.”
During some of Coun Gibson’s final engagements, he visited the Village Sandwich Bar in William Street, Hebburn, where he met with owner Michael Kane, who has run the business for the last two years.
As well as handing over a charity collection tin filled with cash from generous customers, he has also agreed to help promote the Mayor’s single.
The Mayor also called into the Hedworth Hall in Dean Road, South Shields.
The venue has supported the Mayor throughout his year hosting events and donating signed sporting gear from top boxing stars, including Larry Holmes, to raffle for his charity.
During his visit he also called into OTTO restaurant at Hedworth Hall and managed by Carl Mowatt, to see how the business has expanded since its launch a few months ago.
Both the Village Sandwich Bar and the Hedworth Hall were the first to get behind the Mayor’s Penny Pot challenge, which saw businesses asked to display charity tins on counters to encourage customers to drop in their spare pennies. Property services manager at South Tyneside Homes, Jason Crews also handed over collection tins which had been placed on the counters of South Tyneside Homes locations across South Tyneside, while the Mayor called in to see owner at TW Moore tailors in Stanhope Road and the motor workshops in Middlefields, as they too had collection tins for him to pick up.
The Mayor and Mayoress also called in to Living Waters Church to see how work to expand the building is coming along. An extension is being built onto the back of the church, which is used by a number of groups, including the Boys Brigade.
The extra room is welcomed by the various groups and will provide more room for the church’s expanding congregation.
As part of their visit to the church, in St Jude’s Terrace, South Shields, they were also introduced to the Credit Union team which runs community bank Bridges from the church.
The service gives people, who join as members, the chance to open up a savings account from £5.
A certificate presentation was also attended by the Mayor as he rounded off his mayoral duties.
He was on hand to present them to people who completed a five-week course held at Gordon House in South Shields run by Community First North East.
The course ‘Preparing for Work Placements’ was a precursor to the 40-week course in Work Skills which they will now take part in.