COMMUNITY STALWART Derek Heffernan has vowed to do his “very best” for the borough as Mayor of Oldham 2016/17.
Cllr Heffernan, 77, who serves on both Saddleworth Parish and Oldham Councils, was unanimously voted into the role in front of around 100 guests at the Civic Centre.
He read the Declaration of Acceptance and was invested with the Mayoral Chains by outgoing Mayor Cllr Ateeque Ur-Rehman.
Cllr John McCann, who proposed Cllr Heffernan, praised his work with his wife Di in the community with schools, charities and the councils over many decades.
He said: “Derek might not be as spry as he once was so not can emulate Cllr Ur-Rehman and whiz down a zip wire – but he will bring the same zeal, dedication and hard work.
“Derek and Di have dedicated so many years of service to so many different bodies. The number of hours must run into months if not years.”
Cllr John Hudson added: “Derek has worked so hard for the Mayor’s committee over 20 years so I am delighted to see him finally Mayor himself.
“In Derek we have really got someone who cares about the people. One minute he is slaving away serving bacon sandwiches for charity then he is dressing up for a civic event.”
Retired VAT officer Cllr Heffernan, who moved to Oldham in 1974 and now lives in Austerlands, was first elected to the Parish Council in 1987 and was chair in 1992 and 1999.
He joined Oldham Council in 1995 and was named the first Champion of Peace in the country in 2015.
He will be supported in his Mayoral year by his wife Di, who was named Woman of Oldham in 2008 for her community and charity work, and Chaplain Reverend Graham Hollowood.
Cllr Heffernan said: “I promise we will do our very best to live up to the eulogies. We will work for this Council and for Oldham.
“I would like to be known as the ’Mayor of Peace’ for this great Borough. Our children will carry the torch forward and so I will work with schools to spread our message.”
During the year, he will concentrate on the borough’s Healthy Living Programme, mental health, oral health and health checks which can lead to earlier diagnosis of problems.
Fundraising by his committee for the Mayor of Oldham Appeal will benefit Macmillan Cancer Support, Francis House Children’s’ Hospice and local charities.
Medallions were presented to retiring Mayor and Mayoress Cllr Yasmin Toor, who have fulfilled a record 515 engagements and raised £44,000 for charities.
Cllr Ur-Rehman said: “It has been such a busy year that I haven’t had time to write a proper speech!
“It has been an absolutely wonderful year. We have really enjoyed every single event we have been to. We have memories that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.”
He thanked his committee, staff and wife, whom he presented with a gold chain and bouquet of flowers, and presented his Quran to his son Rafael.
Deputy Mayor Cllr Shadab Qumer was voted in and received his chain of office, and he will be supported by Deputy Mayoress Sobia Arshi.