SONG and ceremony marked a shift in leadership for Havant as the borough welcomed its new mayor.
Families, friends, politicians and dignitaries packed into the Havant Borough Council (HBC) chambers yesterday as councillor Peter Wade was elected to the post for 2018/19.
It came as former mayor Elaine Shimbart and her consort, husband Gerald, surrendered their responsibilities after a year of hard work in the community.
Stepping into their shoes, Cllr Wade, who represents the Waterloo ward for the Conservatives, said it was ‘fantastic’ to pair up with his wife Janet to take on the role – having served as deputies for the past 12 months.
‘I’m really looking forward to this year,’ he said.
‘I’ve already thoroughly enjoyed a number of mayoral visits – but nowhere as many as I’ll make over the next 12 months.
‘I feel like I’m into the role now and I’m excited to start helping worthy charities.’
Following custom, Cllr Wade has already pledged his support for a pair of good causes throughout his forthcoming time in office – Rowans Hospice and Riverside School in Waterlooville.
The former, he said, was an easy choice for his Charity Appeal Fund, tying in with the death of his father.
He said: ‘My dad had cancer and he was going to book into Rowans – but he sadly died before he got there.
‘Having later visited and spoken to the staff on a mayoral visit, I know first-hand just how good a job they do.
‘They look after everybody so well, at such a tough time for so many families.’
His second choice, Riverside School, was selected after the eye-opening experience of close pals.
Cllr Wade said: ‘I have friends who have children at the school.
‘Before meeting them, I admit I did not know much about autism – but I’ve now seen how the family copes and how difficult it can be.
‘The Riverside School takes a lot of that away and helps them and many others enormously.’
HBC also got a new deputy mayor and consort yesterday, Cllr Diana Patrick and her partner James Spencer.
Hayling West councillor Michael Wilson was also appointed to lead the council – after being tipped in March to succeed former boss Michael Cheshire, who has stepped down after 12 years.
Reflecting on her year as mayor, Cllr Elaine Shimbart, an independent, said: ‘It’s sad to say goodbye to the mayor’s parlour – we’ve learned a lot over the past year and met wonderful people.’
Her husband Gerald, whose spell as consort was interrupted in part with a battle against stomach cancer, dubbed the post of mayor an ‘important role’ in boosting all corners of the borough community.
The ceremony, which wrapped up by 1pm, also saw a minute’s silence for much-loved Hayling Island councillor and former mayor Victor Pierce Jones – who died one week ago.