A Horley councillor has become the first one in a quarter of a century to be elected mayor of Reigate and Banstead Borough and will hold his civic reception at his town’s church at the weekend.
Cllr David Powell, who also sits on Horley Town Council, was officially appointed into the role at the borough council’s mayor-making ceremony last Thursday (May 26) after sitting as deputy mayor for a year.
He said: “I felt very honoured to be made mayor.
“From what the previous mayor was saying, I am also the first person to be made mayor in the first term in office as borough councillor.”
He aims to raise the profile of Horley during his year as mayor and has already broken with tradition by choosing to hold his civic reception on Sunday June 5 at the town’s parish church of St Bartholomew, in Church Road.
It is an event usually held in Reigate.
The 80 year old said: “There was no question (about holding it in Horley).
“I actually go to a Three Bridges Church with my family in Crawley otherwise I would come here.”
Even as the main parish church in Horley, people who have been involved in the parish churches for up to 30 years cannot remember a time when such a prestigious service was held there.
Horley Anglican team vicar Rev Naomi Ngururi said: “We are very delighted at St Bart’s to host this and to be part of this because we are all working for the community and are part of the same community.
“As the mayor comes from our own parish, it gives us great delight to host it.”
Each mayor appoints a chaplain to support them through the year and Mr Powell invited Rev Ngururi to take up the role.
He said: “I rang Naomi and was delighted she accepted.
“Before every full council meeting she will be with me and say prayers before the meeting. She will be supporting me.”
Rev Ngururi added: “It was an honour to be asked. I am looking forward to the opportunity.
“I have never been to any council meeting like that. The Church of England can be very formal, but not outside of church; it’s just been to do with the church.”
On Sunday at 10.30am St Bart’s will host the mayor’s Civic Reception, which is one of the rare occasions in UK politics where the Church meets State.
Like similar events held up and down the country every year, Mr Powell will dedicate the council’s work to God.
And by his special request, the bells of St Bart’s will be peeling once again after months of staying silent on Sunday mornings.
He said: “I love bells. I was a bell ringer in Northampton. It was my life.
“I used to go round the villages and ring half peels. It’s been 60 years since I rang bells.”
He has already had a busy year as deputy mayor attending 50 events in 2015/16, but is excited about what this year will bring.
He said: “It’s such a mixture. What I’m looking forward to is meeting all the people involved in the events I go to.
“That’s what I love most - getting involved in events for the elderly people in care homes, getting involved with young people. I love community events.”
Anyone can invite the mayor to an event by going on the council’s website www.reigate-banstead.gov.uk/info/20322/mayor
People can also email firstname.lastname@example.org