West Norfolk’s outgoing mayor urged his successor to champion the cause of social inclusion in the borough as he made his farewell address.
Barry Ayres praised the contribution of his chaplain, Father Adrian Ling, in helping him to understand the subject during his year in office at Thursday’s annual borough council meeting.
And he expresed the hope that Fr Ling, alongside the new mayor, Colin Manning, would continue that work.
He added: “I firmly believe it’s an important issue for today.”
Mr Ayres thanked “everybody without exception” for their support over the past 12 months, paying particular tributes to the sword and macebearers, town hall and civic staff and his wife, Christine, whom he described as his “rock.”
While mentioning some of the major events, including meetings with members of the royal family among the more memorable moments of the past 12 months, he said they had been “greatly moved” by the people of the borough, particularly those who work to help others.
He said: “There are a lot of people out there working selflessly for others without seeking any reward.
“Meeting these people has certainly been one of the major highlights of our year.”
And he announced that his charity committee had already raised more than £6,000 for good causes, although the final total is not yet known.
Proposing a vote of thanks to the couple, council leader Nick Daubney said they had provided “a civic presence we could be genuinely and justly proud of.”
There was applause in the hall as Mr Daubney spoke of his delight at seeing Mr Ayres return to duty following a recent illness.
And he praised Mr Ayres for always putting the area’s interests first.
He said: “It was the borough or the guests or the event that was always the top priority. Whether it be business awards, sports awards, community awards, whatever. The event was never about Barry. It was always about the borough.”