VETERAN councillor Derek Heffernan has made an emotional return to a community who had taken him to its heart to receive a special accolade, writes Ken Bennett.Derek received praise and a huge warm welcome at his unique inauguration as Mayor of Austerlands.
The event marked a hat-trick of civic titles for Derek who had been a Mayor of Oldham and past chairman of Saddleworth Parish Council.
He becomes the community’s 20th mayor since the custom was reintroduced in 1998 after the discovery of the old clog iron in the village’s former Red Lion pub.
This year’s ceremony at the Old Original, Scouthead, was attended by former Austerlands Mayors (pictured).
Derek, accompanied by son Andrew, said: “It was wonderful to be welcomed back into the Austerlands community which I was sorry to leave 20 months ago.
“I felt everyone wanted to recognise what I have done over the years.
“Being allowed to represent the village and Saddleworth North has been a honour.
And being presented with the Clog Iron completed a great trio of medals I have been privileged to wear. I am proud to be part of the great community tradition.”
He also received a Yorkshire tie presented by Michael Hall of the White Rose Society.
“I will wear the tie at all Austerlands events,” he added. “ I am sure I must be one of the few Cumbrian, Mancunian, Lancastrian Tykes.”
Before the inauguration, retiring mayor Joan Sykes presented a cheque for £400 to Betty Tomlinson of League of Friends at the Royal Oldham Hospital, money she had raised at Saddleworth Santa Dash.
Former Austerlands mayor Roger Fielding conducted the formal proceedings and Derek’s first duty was to present a past mayor’s miniature clog-iron to the retiring mayor. His second duty will be to welcome the first band to play at Scouthead on Whit Friday.