Published: 00:01, 20 May 2017
In her own words, she started the year as the Martini girl and left as Shirley Bassey – squeezing in 12 months of royal celebrations, community festivities, and ballroom dancing with celebrities in between.
Outgoing mayor of Gravesham Cllr Greta Goatley has certainly had an interesting year after announcing at the beginning of her term she intended to attend functions and events “any time, any place, anywhere” referencing the 1970s TV commercial for vermouth.
The “anywhere” part of her pledge came into play early on as her first engagement was a trip to Virginia, America, as part of preparations for Gravesend’s Pocahontas 400 celebrations, marking four centuries since the native American princess was buried in the town.
The energetic 77-year-old danced with Indian chiefs at a pow-wow, a native American ceremony, then showed off her footwork closer to home when she performed the waltz with Strictly Come Dancing’s Giovanni Pernice ahead of his upcoming show at The Woodville.
“He is a gentle man and a gentleman,” she said. “He was so nice and calm, I can see how they learn from him.”
Starting her speech at last week’s mayor making ceremony with “wow, what a year”, she praised and thanked her colleagues, the organisations she’d visited, and the thousands of people she had encountered at more than 200 events – particularly the children.
She said: “I’ll miss the many cuddles the children ask me for when I visit, as well as the ones who ask me ‘are you the Queen?’”
Cllr Goatley said she was proud to be a part of a multicultural community and had enjoyed the many festivals she had joined in with.
She recalled pupils from St John’s Catholic Comprehensive School placing a rose at the Cenotaph to mark 100 years since the Battle of the Somme and creating a “field” of poppies at their school, and she applauded everyone who helped create a carpet of knitted and crocheted poppies at Windmill Hill Memorial Garden for Remembrance Day.
Cllr Goatley’s jam-packed year also included the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations, the unveiling of the new-look Clock Tower, meeting American ambassador Matthew Barzun, the festive Christmas programme and the opening of Gravesend Borough Market.
The mayoress was her daughter, Victoria Bance, and her charities were ellenor and Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support Services.
The year, she said, has been “absolutely fabulous”. And in her valedictory address to councillors, she said: “I came in as the Martini girl and I’ll go out in the words of Shirley Bassey: ‘I am what I am and now the party’s over.’”
The new mayor of Gravesham is a music lover who once conducted marriage ceremonies throughout Kent.
Cllr Harold Craske was announced as Cllr Greta Goatley's successor during Gravesham council's annual meeting.
Speaking after the mayor-making ceremony, Cllr Craske said he was honoured to have been selected and pledged to "work tirelessly for all members of the borough" as well as supporting Gravesham charities.
He said: "I can't wait to go to so many events, meets members of our community and represent the borough in this way.
"I invite all residents to come and take part in civic events throughout the year and join in this wonderful mayoral year."
Cllr Craske added that because of his love of music he would like to be invited to performances and to talk to schools about the many benefits of learning to play an instrument and performing.
Cllr Craske has been a borough councillor for 10 years, representing Higham for the last six and has been chairman of the regulatory board and the licensing committee and a member of several other committees.
He represents Gravesham on two boards with Medway Council and was a member of Kent County Council for four years where his main interest was the protection and promotion of Common Land and Village Greens, having been a judge's clerk in that branch of the law in his early days as a civil servant.
The 72-year-old has been married to Veronica for 50 years and has two grown-up sons, Peter and Michael. He spent most of his working life as a civil servant in various government departments, including the Crown Prosecution Service.
He took early retirement and became a part time registrar of births, deaths and marriages with KCC, conducting marriages throughout the county on a regular basis.
He volunteered as a driver for the Shopmobility scheme and the Gravesend Volunteer Bureau and was a former president of the then Gravesend Council of Churches.
Cllr Craske will be supporting a number of charities during his year - Beams (formerly Parents Consortium), ellenor, the Salvation Army and the House of Mercy.
The vicar of Higham, Father James Southward, will be his chaplain and the deputy mayor is Cllr David Hurley.
Cllr Craske paid tribute to Cllr Goatley for her tireless work and promised to continue to promote the borough.
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