The new mayor of South Tyneside Council has been officially sworn in.
Coun Norman Dick was presented with his chains of office by outgoing Mayor, Ken Stephenson during a ceremony at South Shields Town Hall this week.
And he will carry out his civic role with his friend by his side, the new Mayoress, Jean Williamson.
The mayor-making ceremony saw family and friends packed into the chamber as tributes were paid to the councillor’s “distinguished record”.
The meeting heard, Coun Dick had served in the Army Reserves for 25 years, seeing active service under two regiments.
This included time in the United Nations peacekeeping force and nine tours of duty in Northern Ireland during the troubles – where he was once shot while on patrol.
He also spent time working in collieries in Westoe and Harton and continued his support for the military as an instructor in the Army Cadet Force and active member of the D.L.I Association in South Shields.
Coun Anne Hetherington said she was confident Coun Dick would bring his “customary dignity, good nature and sense of humour” to the mayoral role.
While Coun Ed Malcolm added the councillor “bears the blue scar of the miner and the wounds of a soldier.”
He said: “Some of the attributes that Coun Dick gained from jobs as a miner and soldier were loyalty and the ability to be a team player.
“Coun Dick remained loyal to his union and fellow workers during the miners strike and he remains loyal to his former armed services personnel in the role as chair of the D.L.I association and work with the council’s Armed Forces Forum.
“The Mayor is an ambassador for the authority, Coun Dick with his soldier’s bearing, bulled-up shoes, his trousers with a razor sharp crease and his excellent interpersonal skills will be a credit to our council as he performs his duties as our first citizen.”
Coun Dick, who has represented the West Park ward since 2014, described the mayoral role as an “absolute honour.”
“Jean and I will work very hard to maintain the standards of South Tyneside,” he said.
“We’re very proud to represent the council and the people of our borough.
“We will be doing everything we can to showcase the wonderful facilities, local businesses and charities that we have here in South Tyneside.”
He added: “I would like to thank the outgoing Mayor, Ken Stephenson for the support he and the Mayoress, Cathy Stephenson, have shown us throughout their mayoral year.”
The new Mayor will be joined by fellow West Park councillor, Gladys Hobson, who was elected as Deputy Mayor.
In her term of office, she will be joined by Mayoress and daughter-in-law Marie Hobson.
After serving as a councillor for Beacon and Bents ward from 1982-1991 she returned to the council in 2012 representing the West Park ward.
At the meeting, the councillor was praised for her work around transport and health.
This included her role helping to set up St Clare’s hospice in Jarrow, attracting European funding to extend the Metro and pushing for disabled access to public transport.
She also sits on a range of committees including chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, Tyne and Wear Sub-Committee.
Coun Mark Walsh, nominating the councillor, said: “I’m sure that you and other members will agree you could not wish for a better deputy mayor and deputy mayoress to serve alongside you this year.”
Outgoing mayor, Ken Stephenson, also gave thanks to council staff who supported him through his term of office -where £23,000 was raised towards the mayor’s charities.
His highlights included showcasing South Tyneside at big events such as Armed Forces Day and summer festivals and events marking the First World War Centenary.
“Along the way, we have had the privilege to meet some outstanding people, young and old, who do amazing work in the voluntary sector in South Tyneside,” he said.
“I hope in our own way the Mayoress and I have made a difference too and that the new Mayor and Mayoress will enjoy their year as much as we have.”
Caption: South Tyneside’s new Mayor and Mayoress, Councillor Norman Dick and Jean Williamson.
Caption: New deputy Mayor, Gladys Hobson
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service