Swaffham’s new mayor remembered the man who should have been in the role as she accepted the chains of office last night.
Anne Thorp took up the civic role for the second time at the start of the town council’s annual meeting.
Since January, she had served as deputy mayor after Stewart Bell, who was elected to the role last year, resigned for health reasons. He has since stepped down from the council altogether.
And, after receiving the chain of office, Mrs Thorp told the meeting: “It’s a great honour and privilege to do this again, but I’m ever mindful of the fact that Stewart Bell isn’t with us.
“He is the one who should have been standing here tonight and if not for the circumstances with his health things may have happened a different way.
“We wish him well and I will do my best for the town and I look forward to working with all of you.”
Paul Darby was elected as deputy mayor for the coming year.
Mrs Thorp, who previously served as mayor in 2013-14, succeeds Shirley Matthews, who has now completed her seventh term in the office.
During her end of year report, Mrs Matthews said: “I’ve had some wonderful highlights for the year and I thank you for allowing me the opportunity of serving for the past year.”
She added that she was also encouraged by the need for a town council election to be held last Thursday, alongside the Parliamentary and district council polls.
Although voters were not asked to choose new district councillors, with Mr Darby, Mrs Matthews and Ian Sherwood being elected unopposed for the Conservatives, five new councillors were elected to the town authority.
And Mrs Matthews, who topped the poll, said: “When you think that two nearby towns couldn’t get enough candidates to hold an election, we have done very well.
“We’re in good heart in Swaffham. There’s no doubt about that.”
Full results were as follows: Shirley Matthews 1769 votes, Paul Darby 1526, Jill Skinner 1499, Steven Allen 1482, Anne Thorp 1433, Theresa Jennison 1352, Brenda Bowler 1330, Janice Buckley-Stevens 1295, Colin Houghton 1283, Leslie Scott 1250, Sheila Lister 1194, Wendy Bensley 1037, Robert Bartram 950 (all elected); Charles Gunner 931.