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New Mayor appointed in Covid-secure West Norfolk Council ceremony

It's a ceremony steeped in tradition, but which looked very different from the norm, as West Norfolk's new civic leaders were installed this afternoon.

Harry Humphrey was elected as the borough's new Mayor at West Norfolk Council's annual meeting, held in Lynn Town Hall a short time ago.

Lynn councillor Lesley Bambridge was sworn in as his deputy.

Unlike traditional mayormaking ceremonies, there were no robes and chains of office, but screens and social distancing as the civic handover took place in a Covid-secure manner.

Mr Humphrey praised staff for what he described as the "Herculean task" of organising the meeting to meet the safety requirements of the moment.

He also thanked councillors for their support of his election.

He said: "It's an honour to take up this ancient role and I hope I will live up to the trust you have placed in me."

His nomination was proposed by the council's new leader, Stuart Dark, and seconded by Independent councillor Paul Beal.

Mr Dark said he had known Mr Humphrey before he was first elected to public office as a Norfolk county councillor.

He added: "It soon became apparent how highly regarded Harry was, not just because of his many years of public service, but because he had earned their trust."

Mr Humphrey himself proposed Miss Bambridge, who will be supported by her brother Dennis as consort, for the role of Deputy Mayor. Her nomination was seconded by her fellow councillor for the St Margarets and St Nicholas ward, Francis Bone.

Mr Humphrey, whose wife Brenda, a church warden and former magistrate, will act as Mayoress, also paid tribute to the outgoing Mayor and Mayoress, Geoff and Rose Hipperson, for their work during a term extended by the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: "They are a real credit to West Norfolk and will a hard act to follow."

In his retiring remarks, Mr Hipperson paid tribute to his predecessor, Nick Daubney, who invited him to be Deputy Mayor three years ago, as well as his family and council staff.

He said there was "much to be proud of" in the borough, and said he hopes to help with the renovation of both the St George's Guildhall and Customs House after stepping down from civic office.

He will also take up a new role as vice-chairman of the council's planning committee.

Meanwhile, the retiring deputy mayor, Margaret Wilkinson, thanked Mr and Mrs Hipperson for inviting her to take the role and their support to her.

Mr Humphrey has nominated the West Norfolk Young Carers and Riding for the Disabled as his charities, announced that Father Adrian Ling will continue to serve as his chaplain.

But, in an extension to the established tradition, he said he would appoint a Fire Service cadet, as well as Police, Army, Air and Sea Cadets.

Mr Dark was formally elected as the council's new leader during the ceremony, after he was named as leader of the ruling Conservative group last week.

His nomination was proposed by Graham Middleton and seconded by the man who he replaces as leader, Brian Long.

Mr Long said: "I wish him all the very best in a job I have enjoyed immensely."

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