Retired Mayor of Calderdale reflects on an eventful year

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Councillor Ann Martin has said that her year as Mayor of Calderdale was certainly an eventful one.

Ann (Labour, Brighouse) said her time as Mayor was marked by a year of highs and lows.

She said: “After three weeks in the job, my mother died, so that was very traumatic.

“And then near the end of the year I was seriously ill with pneumonia and was in a coma for five days.”

But through illness and heartache Ann saw a side to Calderdale that inspired her to stay positive.

“I’ve met some amazing people - it’s been an inspiration,” she said.

“What’s impressed me most is the amount of time people spend doing voluntary work to help other people - it’s been an honour to meet these people who do such sterling work for the community.”

During her time as Mayor, Ann supported three charities: the Elland Silver Band, Calder Valley Search and Rescue and Heath Stroke Club.

Ann said: “Elland Silver Band have got 70 children on their books - it keeps them off the streets, teaches them about music - I just find the work they do is incredible.”

Over the year, Ann attending charity events and special occassions throughout the borough, and said the ceremonial role of Mayor is as important today as it has ever been.

She said: “The difference between being Mayor and a ward councillor is vast.

“You get involved in your local community and organisations as a councillor, but when you become Mayor it’s a whole bigger picture.

“The attendance of the Mayor gives the events a sense of gravitas if the Mayor’s there - it makes the organisations feel valued, and that’s really important.”

Ann said she had so many positive experiences to take away from her time as Mayor of Calderdale including concerts she organised at Halifax Town Hall, the centenary celebrations of the Girl Guides and the Brighouse 1940s weekend.

She said: “The 40s weekend was fantastic. The veteran who laid the wreath with me - what an amazing man.

“He lives down south and he came all the way up to Brighouse just for the 40s weekend with it being the 70th anniversary of D-Day - he didn’t go to Normandy, he came to Brighouse, which was a very moving occasion.”

But it was spending her Christmas Day and Boxing Day working with homeless charities that touched her the most.

“It was my first Christmas without my mother, and I just wanted to do something for other other people.

“I went to the Ebenezer Centre, and there were 80 people sat down for dinner who would have otherwise been on their own.

“And then I went to the Basement Project to help serve teas and then on Boxing Day I went to the Salvation Army.

“I really enjoyed it, and I couldn’t have done it without Peter the driver - it’s not very often you’ll find someone prepared to give up their Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

“Hopefully I’ll do something similar this Christmas - that’s how inspired I’ve been,” she said.