Outgoing Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Alderman Hilary McClintock is looking forward to booking a sun holiday abroad and spending precious time with family when she stepped down from the Mayoral role this week.
Her year tenure as the second Mayor of the newly formed Derry City and Strabane District Council ended as handed the Mayoral chain over to her successor at the AGM at the Guildhall on Monday.
It’s been an eventful year for the Waterside-based DUP elected representative, working seven days a week from 8am until late, whilst travelling the length and breadth of the City and District to attend functions, visit schools, community groups and attend meetings.
While it has been busy and sometimes even hectic, Hilary has really enjoyed the experience.
“It has been a tremendous privilege being Mayor and to represent the people of the City and District. It has been a very busy year and a challenging one but it has been very enjoyable. I won’t know what to do with myself when this is all over but it will be nice to get a much needed rest and spend some quality time with my family,” she says.
There has been many highlights of her Mayoral year but for Hilary it’s been about the people and the warmth of the welcome she has received from across the Council area and beyond.
“People are so friendly and so keen to talk to you and make you feel welcome. I have loved being out and about amongst the community meeting people, hearing their stories, finding out what they are involved in and what their interests are. It’s been phenomenal and I can’t be thankful enough for the fantastic welcome I received from people right across the region.”
Hilary’s chosen charities for her Mayoral year were Tearfund and Action Cancer. Tearfund is a UK Christian relief and development agency that provides support to poor communities and marginalised groups across the world and is a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee. Action Cancer is Northern Ireland’s leading local cancer charity that provides support through cancer awareness, detection and support and is a charity very close to Hilary’s heart having lost two sisters to the disease.
To date she has raised well over £20,000, through a series of successful events throughout the year including Mayor’s Superhero Week, a Family Fun Day at the Foyle Arena, A Pink Tea Dance, a Christmas Choral Festival and a Jazz Charity event, to name but a few.
“I am delighted at the level of support I got from the public for these charities and would like to thank everyone involved in helping raise the money and awareness of the wonderful work both these charities are doing to help others.”
Another key highlight for Hilary were the monthly Tea Dances at the Guildhall and a series of additional ones held at the Foyle Arena.
“The Tea Dances were fantastic and a really enjoyable event for those involved. I really enjoyed going along and chatting with those in attendance. They are a fantastic bunch of people who love dancing, meeting friends and exchanging stories and I was delighted as a Mayor to be in a position to facilitate these on a monthly basis.”
Hilary added that meeting and engaging with young people has also been key to her mayoral year. Having previously worked with children and young people for many years at community playgroups, and as a classroom assistant at Belmont House Special School and the Woodlands Language Unit, Hilary is very much aware of the challenges in the education sector.
“Our young people are fantastic. They are so talented and knowledgeable and a great asset to our City and District. Through our Year of Youth I am really keen that we do all we can to engage with our youth as much as we can and encourage them to get involved in politics and have their say on issues that affect them.
“We need our young people to stay here, to study and set up home here and through the aspirations set out in our Community Plan/Strategic Growth Plan I am confident we can achieve a better future for them.”
Community engagement and working with the voluntary sector have also been a key part of Hilary McClintock’s commitment over the past year. “Having worked in the community sector for over 13 years I was very keen to acknowledge the huge amount of work that is being done in across Londonderry and Strabane by community workers, church organisations, women’s groups, sports associations, victims groups, volunteers and cultural organisations and was very pleased to be able to meet with as many of them as possible during my Mayoral year.”
Representing the city, district and wider region across the world has been an important Mayoral role for Hilary over the past year too, when she travelled to the US and the UK to promote foreign direct investment and forge vital trade and tourism links in New York and Boston in the United States, London and Dublin.
“Attending the Clipper Race New York stop over was an amazing experience and I felt very honoured to be there and to represent the people of the City and District. I was delighted to have been given so many opportunities to showcase the region, tell our unique story and promote our attributes across the globe and I look forward to building on those links that will bring about real investment and stronger international relations moving forward.
“The award winning Foyle Maritime Festival was a fantastic event and one of the many highlights of my Mayoral year. I really enjoyed seeing the yachts berthed along the Marina and the Quay animated with people from across Northern Ireland here to welcome the Clipper Race and to share in our maritime history.”
There was some disappointment however during 2016/17, including the Council’s failure to become the European Youth Capital for 2019. “While it was amazing to get through to the final five it was disappointing not to win. Securing the title would have been amazing but I believe that our Year of Youth and our joint bid with Belfast to secure European Capital of Culture for 2023, will have a huge impact on young people in the region,” she added.
Other Council-organised events the Mayor enjoyed being part of were the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival, the Spring Carnival and the Strabane Summer Jamm, and of course the Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival, where the Mayor led the carnival through the city streets, with the help of her grandchildren.
Working alongside officers at the Council, Hilary has seen at first hand the huge amount of work being done by the new Derry City and Strabane District Council to provide services as well as invest in its infrastructure, services and events.
“There is a lot of really good work being done on the ground to improve services and efficiencies through the Council’s Community Plan/Strategic Growth Plan that clearly sets out our ambitions and targets for the years ahead. It aims to improve the quality of life of all as it works to address unemployment and provide an improved social, economic and environment.”
Extending her warmest thanks to everyone she has met during her Mayoral year, Hilary says she has been overwhelmed by the kindness and warmth of the public. She also thanked her support staff at the Council, especially her drivers Mal and Ben, the Guildhall staff and the Mayoral office staff Karen and Alex, her party colleagues and fellow elected members including Deputy Mayor Cllr Jim McKeever, with a special note of thanks to her family for their help and support.
Extending her best wishes to the incoming Mayor and Deputy Mayor, she said: “The time has come for me to pass over the Chain of office and to rest up for a while and spend some time with the family. It’s been a great honour and a very memorable experience I will never forget.”