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Looking back on year as mayor

Former mayor Cllr Alan Willicombe
Former mayor Cllr Alan Willicombe

The borough’s former mayor said although the Credit Crunch hit his charity-raising efforts hard he “thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful year in office”. He spoke to Nathan Rao...

After a busy 12 months, former mayor and mayoress of Swale, councillors Alan and Jean Willicombe, handed over their chains of office to Cllr Adrian Crowther and his friend Pamela Berry.
The Woodstock ward councillor, who has since been elected as a Conservative councillor on Kent County Council, and his wife, raised £7,394 for their chosen charities Swale Young Carers, Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), and Demelza House Children’s Hospice.
Cllr Willicombe, 64, said he was pleased to have raised that much as his year in office coincided with a major recession.
He said: “Unfortunately we had a year where everything crashed, so people weren’t putting their hands in their pockets as much as they used to. Possibly it could have been a little bit more but I am pleased with that amount.”
The borough’s former first citizen said the most memorable highlight of the year was meeting the people of Swale.
He said: “Meeting the groups of people who carry on achieving wonderful things in arts and sports often overcoming cruel disabilities and showing the rest of us they are as good as us if not better has been wonderful.
“The volunteers in Swale truly are wonderful people.”
He said meeting Swale’s young people was another highlight, and on one occasion received more than 50 letters of thanks after a visit.
“Meeting the children was wonderful,” he said. “I always used to go in full ceremonial dress and I was once asked do I live in a castle, do I have lots of servants, and am I very rich.
“Unfortunately I had to answer no to all of those. I thought that was lovely and very sweet.”

A wonderful year

Other events Cllr Willicombe will remember fondly are attending a party at Demelza House, Bobbing, dressed as cartoon character Buzz Lightyear and having a tea party on the roof of St Michael’s Church, Sittingbourne, to raise money for its roof fund.
He said although he was “exceptionally busy” during the year, he and Jean, 63, who live in Sittingbourne, will not be slowing down. The couple are Conservative councillors on Swale council.
He said: “It has been a superb year and we have thoroughly enjoyed it. We are still going to be very busy as we are both on the council but it has been a wonderful year.
“We never turned down a single engagement in the borough, and were especially pleased to support local events.”
For Swale results from last week’s county council elections, see this week's Sittingbourne Messenger, out Friday.

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