SOLEMNLY, Cllr Frank Jonas approached Portsmouth’s Guildhall stage for the first time wearing his ceremonial Lord Mayor’s robes.
But when the Portsmouth City Band broke into a rendition of the Imperial March from Star Wars – which in the movie heralds the arrival of arch-villain Darth Vader – the 1,000-plus audience descended into giggles.
The city’s new Lord Mayor, dubbed Mr Hilsea by his ward constituents, was all smiles as he took to the stage and said: ‘I can assure everyone I had no input in the selection of the music.’
Introduced by his Tory colleague Cllr Donna Jones, the Portsmouth born-and-bred shopkeeper takes over from Cllr Cheryl Buggy and is the city council’s first Conservative Lord Mayor in four years.
Cllr Jonas runs Hilsea Hardware in London Road – described as Portsmouth’s version of Aladdin’s cave – and had a brief spell in the merchant navy which was cut short by the discovery, on his first voyage, that he suffered from violent sea- sickness.
His first action as Lord Mayor was to present a bouquet of flowers to audience-member Sylvia Tooes who was yesterday celebrating her 100th birthday.
The father-of-four and grandfather-of-five will be supported by his wife, the new Lady Mayoress Patricia Jonas, and the Portsmouth Alzheimer’s Society and the Whitburn Trust for Portsmouth Oncology Cancer Care are his chosen charities.
The deputy Lord Mayor is Lib Dem councillor Lynne Stagg.