THURROCK’S 48th mayor made sure Thurrock’s unsung heroes were recognised during his “intense” year in office – raising £23,000 for charity along the way.
James Halden will step down on Wednesday, handing over to incoming mayor – his deputy mayor Sue Little – following a vote by council members.
Mr Halden said: “Serving as mayor has been the honour of a lifetime, certainly getting to do it as one of the youngest mayors in the nation and as Thurrock’s first gay mayor.
“It’s been an intense year – as I wanted it to be. There is little point in doing such a job unless you want to run at 100mph all the time. I understand the average amount of engagements is around the 200 mark, however the historic events of a platinum jubilee, the passing of one sovereign and coronation of another has certainly exceeded that and I am now just over 320.”
Mr Halden chose the NHS, help for refugees and the community to benefit from his mayoral charities.
He said: “We’ve been able to raise well over £23,000 for my charities – the intensive care unit for babies, our refugee efforts, and many local groups such as our inspiring military cadets. This has been deeply fulfilling.”
Speaking of those in the Thurrock community who have been rewarded for going the extra mile to help others during his year in office, Mr Halden added: “I’m very proud that we established a proper Civic Award in the Mayoral Roll of Honour. I said I wanted to hold up our volunteers as a call to arms for all of us to contribute to our society. We’ve done that with over 40 awards given and over 200 guests through the parlour during these events.”
Turning to the highlights of his mayoral year, Mr Halden said: “I’ve loved supporting our institutions. Institutions are bigger than us all and give us an equal stake in something to be proud of and to improve. We’ve had 25 schools and hundreds of children in the chamber for my debate competitions, visited over a dozen different faith groups to take part in their services, and much more. I’ve also made sure our national flag is everywhere!
“I can’t say I’ll miss the stress of chairing debates in the chamber. It is so alien being impartial. But I am pleased we made a number of good tweaks to the constitution to allow more time for debate.”