HE’S travelled the world and flown supersonic jets.
But becoming the mayor of Havant is the highlight of Ken Smith’s life.
The former RAF engineer said being able to serve his community meant the world to him.
Cllr Smith became the 38th mayor of Havant at a ceremony at the Langstone Hotel, on Hayling Island, yesterday.
Nervous beforehand, he likened the experience to getting married.
But it was all smiles after the robes were exchanged as he and his wife Hazel, an enquiries officer at Havant police station, braced themselves for a year of hard work and fundraising for charity.
Cllr Smith, who was in The Black Arrows, one of the predecessors of The Red Arrows, said: ‘This is the highlight. This is the cream on top.
‘It’s a real privilege. It’s an honour.
‘We are so delighted to be elected mayor and mayoress.
‘We are going to do the very best we can to fulfil our obligation of raising as much money as we can for charities.’
Cllr Smith replaces Yvonne Weeks, who was thanked at the ceremony for being a ‘remarkable’ mayor.
Cllr Gerald Shimbart, a retired tailor, who represents Hart Plain ward, became the deputy mayor.
Cllr Smith, a Conservative councillor for Bedhampton, said one of the focuses of his mayoral year would be tackling youth unemployment and supporting apprenticeships.
He also wants to raise as much money as possible for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance and the Dorothy’s Dream campaign.
An air ambulance saved the life of his son, Ian, 10 years ago.
Ian was left with a life-threatening injury to his aorta – the main blood vessel from the heart – in a car crash near Chichester.
The helicopter was able to fly him to hospital in London and save his life.
Cllr Smith said: ‘I fully expected him not to be here.
‘I am so grateful. They did a wonderful job.’
Mrs Smith has designed the artwork – fittingly a heart as it represents life – for a new set of napkins, the sales of which will be used to help the charities.
Local cadets Danielle Sanders, 16, Emily Stray, 15, and Olivia Webb, 10, yesterday became the mayor’s cadets and will represent the armed forces during mayoral engagements.