Derek Heffernan to complete hat-trick of civic titles as Mayor of Austerlands

DEREK Heffernan, former mayor of Oldham and chairman of Saddleworth Parish Council, will claim a unique hat-trick of civic titles when he is installed as Mayor of Austerlands.

Derek Heffernan and wife Di during their year as Mayor and Mayoress of Oldham

The veteran councillor will help continue a 60-year-old tradition when he is appointed as the new mayor during a special ceremony at the Old Original, Scouthead, on Tuesday, May 21.

The installation will take place at around 9pm when the retiring Mayor Joan Sykes, also chair of the Scouthead and Austerlands Community Group, will pass on the ceremonial chain.

Previous Austerlands Mayors will also be in attendance, wearing the miniature clog-irons presented to each of them on their retirement.

Derek will become 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.

David Needham, secretary of the organising committee, said: “I have known Derek for over forty years, ever since we worked together with the Austerlands Village Improvement Association and, along with others, successfully campaigned to stop Oldham Council from demolishing the old stone cottages which formed the heart of our village.

“While not of the same political persuasion, I have always respected the time and effort he has put in on behalf of the Austerlands community.

“For many years he also worked behind the scenes at the Scouthead and Austerlands Whit Friday band contest, which also ticked another of the boxes for the organisers.

“With his retirement from council activities he was an obvious and popular choice – there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he will have a successful year in office.”

As is the custom, former Austerlands Mayor Roger Fielding, complete with red tailcoat and white bow tie, will conduct the formal proceedings.

Joan Sykes, centre, taking over as Mayor of Austerlands in 2018

Immediately on taking up office Derek’s first duty will be to present a past Mayor’s miniature clog-iron to retiring Mayor Joan Sykes.

His second duty will be to continue the tradition of welcoming the first band to play at the band contest at Scouthead on Whit Friday (June 14).

Proud Derek said: “I’m thrilled to have been selected as the next Mayor of Austerlands.

“Even though I’ve been forced to move out because of mobility issues my heart is still rooted in the village after more than 40 years living there.

“I will do whatever I can to promote the village and wear the clog iron with pride.

“I remember the tradition being resurrected and I will follow in the footsteps of fine former Mayors, especially Joan who is now retiring.”

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