COUNCILLOR Barbara Beeley has officially taken on the role of Saddleworth Parish Council chairman – 12 months later than expected.
Cllr Beeley was due to be handed the chains by Cllr Jamie Curley for 2020-21 but the handover was delayed due to the Covid pandemic and restrictions for a year.
She has been leading the council during that time but only at the Parish Council AGM in May was she finally officially voted into her role in front of members of the public.
Cllr Beeley said: “It seems rather odd to be accepting this role when I have already been in post for nearly a year already but I am delighted to be carrying on.”
Vice chair for 2021-22 is Cllr Pam Byrne, who will be supported by her consort, daughter Helen Harrison.
Cllr Byrne gave a vote of thanks to staff of the Civic Hall, who helped make sure business could continue during Covid.
She said: “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping to keep us afloat during these difficult times.”
Past chairman’s medallion were presented to Cllr Jamie Curley and a medallion to his consort, wife Debbie, and votes of thanks were given by councillors.
Cllr Sam Al-Hamdani said: “Thank you for the warmth, good humour and decency which you have brought, especially in such unusual circumstances.”
Cllr John Hudson commented: “Thank you very much for everything you have done, working so hard for Saddleworth and its people in such a bad year.
“I know Barbara and Pam will do their best and keep up your high standards.”
Reflecting on his time as chair, Cllr Curley said: “As I took over in May 2019, I said that we were in a time of change and challenge. Little did I know what those words would come to mean!
“It was a really great year, hard work but so enjoyable to be able to see and participate in so much of Saddleworth life. We have a fantastic community in a beautiful corner of the world.
“We met so many great groups of people and attended many civic and cultural events. Too many to mention them all but as an impression we have witnessed at first hand many of the parts of what I called ‘The Saddleworth Season’ the long summer of activities and events that help define our unique corner of the world.
“We were lucky that we could take part in 2019’s summer season, from judging doggie competitors at the hugely successful Saddleworth Show and placing the wreath on Ammon Wrigley’s statue on Yorkshire Day to taking the salute at the Yanks Parade and listening to marvellous concerts by Saddleworth Male Voice Choir, the Saddleworth Musical Society and the Saddleworth Singers.
“Sadly, much of this didn’t happen in 2020 as the country battled the pandemic. But I know the fantastic community spirit of Saddleworth will endure and these events will return bigger and better than ever.
“I want to say a huge thank you to the brilliant Chairman’s Charity Committee whose hard work over the last five years has raised over £60,000 for local causes.
“We fell short of our target to raise £10,000 for the Chairman’s Charity but still managed to distribute £7200 to 18 local charities including the Nicola Hughes Memorial Fund, Samantha Jones Trust, Dementia Friends, Satellite Centre Greenfield, Oldham Mountain Rescue Team, Chatty Cafe Scheme, Young Christian Carers, Samaritans Rochdale and Oldham, Maggies Oldham, Chernobyl Kids, Bright Futures School.
“Thank you also to all the wonderful people we have met during the year, those who have invited us to their events and concerts and everyone who has supported us by attending fundraising events, buying raffle tickets and helping at events and fundraisers.”
Councillors also voted on updated standing orders as well as confirming committees and members for the coming year.