DEWSBURY councillor Eric Firth has been elected as the new Mayor of Kirklees.
Coun Firth, who was deputy mayor last year, was officially appointed during the council’s annual meeting on Wednesday.
He will serve as mayor for the next 12 months with Coun Christine Iredale (Golcar) as his deputy.
“It’s a great honour and a privilege to be the ‘first citizen’ of Kirklees,” Coun Firth said.
“I’m the first from Dewsbury East ever to be mayor. The nearest we’ve been is my late friend Jack Hird who died in office as deputy.
“I really am delighted. Who would have thought a working class lad from Dewsbury would be Mayor of Kirklees?”
The eldest of seven children, Coun Firth has never lived more than two-and-a-half miles from the Dewsbury home where he was born.
During a speech to the full council, Coun Firth named the West Yorkshire Forget Me Not Trust as the beneficiary of the Mayor’s Appeal for his year.
The Trust provides care for children in Kirklees with life-limiting illnesses and is due to open a dedicated children’s hospice near Huddersfield later this year.
Coun Firth said: “My granddaughter had leukaemia and it brought it all home to me. Fortunately she’s getting better, but there are no children’s hospices in the area. The nearest is Wetherby.”
He said the new hospice would benefit families all over Kirklees as well as those in neighbouring areas.
“It is for all children facing the end of their lives, no matter what colour or creed, and that’s why I was keen to involved” he said.
“The facility will open in September. I’m already talking to people who will provide equipment for the rooms but there is still much to do.
“I think this is a wonderful opportunity to help this organisation and I want to make a difference.
Coun Firth also paid tribute to outgoing mayor Coun Andrew Palfreeman (Birstalll and Birkenshaw).
He said: “Andrew has been an excellent mayor. Over this year we have become firm friends.
“He has been a great ambassador for Kirklees and I intend to carry on with that.”
Coun Firth said he looked forward to representing the mayor’s office at official events and fundraisers across the district.
“I’ve been all over the borough during the past year.” he said.
“I know I’m going to be busy fulfilling my duties and whether it’s an official function or a fundraiser, I’ll do my best to be there.
“I’m looking forward to meeting more of the many diverse groups of people and organisations who live and work in our area.”
Coun Firth will also be writing a monthly column for the Reporter Series sharing his experiences during his year in office.
Readers can find out how Coun Firth is settling into his new role when his first column appears in our paper next month.