Mayor Making returns to the Queen Elizabeth Hall
At the Town Meeting on 9th May 2022, Cllr Michelle Thomas was elected Mayor for the year and Cllr Donna Crook was elected Deputy Mayor.
There follows Michelle’s acceptance speech:
Deputy lieutenant ladies and gentlemen a very warm welcome back again to the rather aptly named queen Elizabeth 2nd hall in this platinum jubilee year – I think you will see from my smile that I am so proud to be mayor of Henley. Over the last few days, I have been overwhelmed with so many messages of goodwill it really has been rather moving. Councillors, thank you for placing your confidence in me by giving me all your votes as mayor-elect. It means everything to me and I can assure you this will sustain me throughout the coming year.
I have found it so difficult to pick out just a few highlights from the coming civic year so I have decided to focus on some events and initiatives you may not know about.
I have lived in Henley now for 17 years and one of its many strengths is its capacity for volunteering. This was more than highlighted during the pandemic when it seemed at lightning speed, that mutual aid was established. Volunteers came forward for the vaccine rollout. Day to day so many organisations and so many individuals who give their time to so many causes – however, as a volunteer myself I don’t find it easy to reach out to other volunteers and that got me thinking – how can we bring volunteers together in one place? With the help of Cllr Lambert, we are going to establish a social media page to be named the Henley Volunteer Network.
This will be launched at an event during the national volunteer week which coincides this year with the platinum jubilee but every year it takes place from the 1st to the 7th June. This is a week-long event that I would like to get established here in Henley – a thank you to all volunteers in the town. Now I know that the turnaround is extremely tight – but with your help and I am sure we can make it work. If there are any businesses out there which can help with this, I will be grateful.
The town has a lot taking place over the jubilee bank holiday weekend, but the hottest ticket in town in my view!! Is planting a tree for the jubilee! I have been busy inviting myself to all the schools to join all of the teachers and pupils – I can’t wait to meet them.
At the end of October, the town is hosting a delegation of 50 from Leichlingen to belatedly celebrate 40 years of twinning. I am really looking forward to their 3-day visit and really determined to make part of my speech in German.
The Mayor’s charities.
Every mayor will tell you there is always just one thing that they are nervous about in their mayoral year – well this one is mine – raising money! I’ve raised petitions and raised a march, but I have never raised any money! The reason I think I fear this most is that many people associate raising money with feats of pushing yourself physically and mentally – climb a mountain, walk for miles, row the Atlantic! Well, I am not going to do any of that!! So, I have decided to make the mayor’s charities open to all.
Just giving is my chosen platform as I really hope it will do what it will inspire people to do just that – just give!
Covid catch-up in schools.
Now this subject has had a lot of coverage in the news. The effect of the pandemic on children is long-lasting and complex, researchers are just starting to analyse the way in which our children have been affected, developmental delay, social interaction, and mental health. I would like to establish a fund for all the state primary schools in Henley for covid catch-up and I am not going to set any criterion on how the schools decide to spend the funds teachers are best placed to decide what they need. If I can, I will release the first part of any funds raised for the start of the next academic year. If the fund can raise enough, I would like to include Gillotts, but we will just have to see how it goes.
Greener Henley is an organisation which I have much admired for years – what I like about greener Henley is that they don’t pretend they can solve climate change, but they do believe we can strive for a cleaner, greener Henley and they are there for you if you believe the same and want to make some changes. Greener Henley would like to establish a hub in Henley which will be used to do just that and share information with you. Now, these hubs are springing up all over the country – there is an established one just down the road in Abingdon – again they are being ambitious in their date and would like to launch this during the annual great big green week on the 24th and 25th of September.
Last but not least – thank you!
First to the councillors and staff for their support in the coming year. Cllr Miller you’ve been such fun to work with and I hope to pick up from where you have left off to provide a seamless transition and Cllr Arlett, thank you for your nomination, but I can assure you I couldn’t have a better teacher than you in chairing Plans.
My employer is Leander Club. It’s a great place to work. I thank them in advance for any support they will give me in all kinds of different ways but especially to my colleagues who will inevitably have to fill some gaps when I am unavoidably absent.
The Educational Trust and Badgemore Primary School, thank you to both I have learnt so much about education in my 3 years with you. Thank you to Mr Tim Hoskins headteacher of Badgemore for being here today.
Finally, the biggest thank you of all to my family – my inspirational Mum and Dad, my very supportive husband Dave and my understanding children Tom and Eleanor.