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Outgoing Lord Mayor highlights extra-ordinary Covid-shortened year, urges city to support civic charities

Published: Thursday, 20th May 2021

Outgoing Lord Mayor highlights extra-ordinary Covid-shortened year, urges city to support civic charities

Outgoing Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent Ross Irving has praised the city’s resilience during his Covid-shortened year in office, and has urged residents and businesses to give their support to civic charities as lockdown restrictions ease.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, councillor Irving’s time as Lord Mayor has reduced to eight-and-a-half months – the shortest civic year in the office’s 93-year history. But in that time he has served through two national lockdowns and seen the city respond to, and begin its recovery from, the pandemic.

Councillor Irving said: “It has been the most difficult of years for everyone in the city, but I have had the privilege of seeing how so many residents, businesses and communities have worked through all of the challenges.

“I have seen the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel and the Clayworks apartments open in Smithfield in the city centre; they are real strides forward for the city. In January I had the honour of touring Hanley Medical Centre as the first Covid vaccinations began in our city. We have arguably the most successful vaccination programme in the world and it was fantastic to see our NHS in action.

“And I have finished my time in office by officially launching the Park Hall Country Park Visitor Centre, a £400,000 facility that I had campaigned for after the previous centre had been targeted by arsonists some years ago.

“The coronavirus restrictions have meant that many of my engagements this year have had to be done through video calls. This has been a new experience for me, but I have met some incredible people in this way. I have been inspired by young carers, many of them young children who look after older relatives at home, and have listened to their stories. I have attended school assemblies online and been questioned by primary school children, who have asked wonderful things such as if I have guards attending my house! Outside of lockdown restrictions and following public health guidance, I have opened new businesses such as a marine manufacturer and distribution company in Tunstall and a sheltered accommodation scheme in Meir.

“We also had the tragic situation of the death of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and I was so proud of the way that as a city we were able to organise our own commemoration and memorial service in Stoke Minster. Although it wasn’t possible to have a public event, our city marked this deeply saddening occasion in a very fitting way.”

Councillor Irving will finish his term of office today (Thursday) at the authority’s annual council meeting. It is the second time the Weston Coyney councillor has been Lord Mayor, having served a year in office in 2017.

He said: “In other years, the Lord Mayor holds a charitable ball and fundraising for civic charities is a really significant part of the Lord Mayor’s work. In my previous term of office I raised £18,000 for local charities. However, due to the coronavirus restrictions, it quickly became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to carry out this work during this term of office. Local companies have still been incredibly generous despite working through the tough times over the past year, and I’d like to single out AAH Pharmaceuticals in Tunstall who gave donations of scores of gift packs of toiletries which I was able to distribute to local charities supporting homeless and vulnerable people.

“As we continue to move through the national roadmap out of the pandemic, I urge residents, businesses and communities to continue to show their wonderful spirit of generosity and redouble their efforts to help the local charitable sector. I will be giving my support to the new Lord Mayor to help with their civic fundraising and urge anyone who is able to support the new Lord Mayor to do so.

“I’d like to thank my consort Christine Warren for all her support during my time in office, and wish the new Lord Mayor every success for the next 12 months.”

A new Lord Mayor will be appointed at the start of the annual council meeting, in a mayor making ceremony that will follow public health guidelines and social distancing measures. Goldenhill and Sandyford councillor Dr Chandra Kanneganti has served as the Deputy Lord Mayor during the time councillor Irving has been Lord Mayor.