Outgoing Mayor Fielding a ‘fantastic ambassador’
Tributes were paid by all parties to Alderman Mark Fielding, the outgoing Mayor of Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council at the Annual General Meeting, writes Gillian Anderson, Local Democracy Reporter.
As his term in office came to a close, Mayor Fielding addressed the Chamber.
He said: “As I reflect on the past year as Mayor, our Borough was just coming out of the first lockdown when I took up office in June 2020 and recently we are emerging from the second one.
“One of the first tasks I undertook as Mayor was to visit community groups across Causeway Coast and Glens who assisted those in need during the pandemic. I was impressed by the community spirit demonstrated within our towns, villages and rural areas. This included the community groups that were already well established prior to the pandemic and the new support groups that emerged to meet the challenges faced by the restrictions.
“Of course this Mayoral term wasn’t like any previous one. One had to adapt to the changing circumstances. Everything was done outside with social distancing. We were fortunate that the weather on the whole was on most occasions kind to us with a relatively mild winter and I enjoyed every season of the year in photographs in the great outdoors.
“Virtual events became the norm and for example one missed meeting children at the traditional Christmas switch-on of the lights at that seasonal time of the year and also missed having receptions in the Mayor’s Parlour.
“People will ask what was the highlight of your year. Every time I represented the Council as Mayor and met people on Council’s behalf was in itself a highlight.
“Of course there are events which can never be repeated such as the presentation of the silver poppies to World War Two veterans, centenary events and I also visited a fit 102 veteran on his birthday.
“As a resident of Portstewart I was pleased that on five occasions at the invitation of Portstewart Royal British Legion during my term I attended significant events and anniversaries at Portstewart War Memorial. Last week also in Portstewart saw the restoration of the World War Two concrete target Arrow used by bomber crews as a training target indicator along the Port Path and part of Causeway Coast Way along with a new information panel.
“My official charity for my term of Office was Alzheimer’s Society. I was inspired to do this by my late father who developed dementia in his later life.
“I was pleased to able to raise awareness of this condition and to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Society. Across the borough, many families are caring for loved ones living with this condition and the Alzheimer’s Society is an important source of support for them. The pandemic had a profound effect on all our lives during the past year, but despite these challenges, the public got behind my efforts and initiatives I undertook.
“Being Mayor would not have been possible without the support of my Party Colleagues, my very supportive wife Phyllis and family.
“I would like to thank the Council staff at every level of the organisation from the people at reception to senior level. Of course, there are staff that you are in direct contact with on a regular basis, particularly the Mayor’s Office, PR and the Chief Executive.”
Incoming Mayor, UUP Councillor Richard Holmes thanked him on behalf of the UUP for his ‘stewardship, fairness, integrity and dignity shown throughout.’
He said: “This has been a difficult year in the circumstances of the pandemic but like the US Marines the mantra has been one of improvise, adapt and overcome. Technology within Council has moved apace to ensure government kept running and Mark led that adroitly.
“The last few months have seen much activity for the Mayor and his wife as they took the Mayoral Office on the road to meet numerous groups and thank those who kept society running throughout the pandemic.” SDLP Councillor Margaret Anne McKillop commended Alderman Fielding on his year in Office.
“I know it was a tough and challenging year,” she said. “I’m sure he feels slightly disappointed that he didn’t get the same opportunities as other Mayors, but I feel that he dealt with it as best he could.” DUP Group Lead Aaron Callan paid tribute to Alderman Fielding congratulating him on ‘what was an earnest and difficult year’.
“He achieved much during his time as Mayor even though it was largely restricted. I think he was an outstanding ambassador for our Borough, for his family and for our part as well.”
Sinn Fein Lead Leanne Peacock offered her party’s thanks to Alderman Fielding adding; “We would like to thank him for his outstanding year in office in what was a very difficult year, we had an unprecedented global pandemic when he came into the position and I think everyone would applaud him for getting to grips with the technology aspect of virtual meetings.”
Independent Councillor William McCandless thanked Alderman Fielding for the ‘enthusiasm, determination and endurance’ he displayed, adding that he had ‘served the Borough well.’
Alliance Councillor Chris McCaw described the outgoing Mayor as a ‘fantastic ambassador’,
PUP Councillor Russell Watton, Independent Councillor Angela Mulholland and Sinn Fein Councillor Cathal McLaughlin and outgoing Deputy Mayor UUP Alderman Tom McKeown also paid tribute to the outgoing Mayor.