How the new mayor plans to support South Tyneside's recovery from the covid pandemic
Councillor Pat Hay was officially sworn in as the borough’s first citizen at South Tyneside Council’s annual meeting.
The Harton ward representative, who recently retained her seat in the local elections, will serve as Mayor alongside Mayoress and friend of 35 years Mrs Jean Copp.
The councillor said it was a “huge honour and real privilege” to be elected by colleagues to wear the civic chains and that she plans to raise funds for The Customs House and Cancer Connections during her term of office.
“My first charity will be The Customs House in South Shields, our little theatre with the big heart, in the centre of the town,” she said.
“I think we’re very fortunate that a lot of international and local talent have come through that theatre.
“My second charity will be Cancer Connections. Having had cancer myself, they provide a wonderful service not only to the person that is going through that illness but also to their families.”
Before becoming a councillor, Cllr Hay worked in the voluntary and community sector for several decades and was also the managing director of a third-sector organisation in South Tyneside.
As a former chair of the council’s Children and Adults Safeguarding Panel, she also had a key role in scrutinising and improving council services for both young and old.
The experiences gained during her career and civic life, she explained, will influence her approach as the borough’s new Mayor.
“I don’t have any problem in chairing meetings, meeting people, starting new initiatives and the work in the voluntary and community sector is phenomenal,” she said.
“We have so many voluntary and community organisations in South Tyneside that do an awful lot of work and I think being the Mayor, I would like to highlight what those people do.”
Cllr Hay was born in South Shields and attended Gilbert Street Infants, Stanhope Road Junior and Stanhope Comprehensive schools.
On leaving school, she went to work in Covent Garden, London, for a diamond merchant, before returning to her hometown after a few years. She also worked in retail.
Cllr Hay later spent time travelling with her Merchant Navy husband Ian until their son was born in 1985.
Working around family commitments, she became a youth worker in South Tyneside.
After her daughter’s birth in 1990, Cllr Hay became a homes manager initially working with older people then later with adults with physical and learning disabilities.
She also worked as the managing director of South Tyneside Community Empowerment Network.
An interest in politics and her work in local communities led to her election as councillor in 2012.
As the country moves towards a period of recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, the new Mayor hopes to “lift the spirits” of South Tyneside residents.
Cllr Hay said: “This past year has been a terrible time for so many of our residents.
“But we are now on the road to recovery and I’m keen to get out and to help lift the spirits of the people of South Tyneside.
“I think the people have been through an awful lot with this pandemic, some sadly have lost loved ones and others have lost their jobs and employment.
“I intend to get out to meet as many people in South Tyneside as I can and to also help and support them.”
She added: “My Mayoress Jean Copp and I will do everything that we can to help and support any causes in South Tyneside.
“We’re very excited but incredibly humbled to be representing this amazing borough and its residents.
“We have such fantastic community spirit and great civic pride and I’m so proud to come from South Shields.
“We are particularly looking forward to meeting the people in our communities, including some of our wonderful frontline workers to thank them for everything they have done in supporting people throughout the coronavirus pandemic.”
At this week’s annual council meeting, councillors agreed the new Mayor will serve in the role for two years, rather than a one-year term, due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on Mayoral activities.