Freedom march ushers in new Mayor of Bath
A march by scores of sailors has helped usher in a new Mayor of Bath.
People packed into Bath Abbey to see Councillor Andy Furse become the 785th mayor of the city on Saturday.
Before the ceremony a traditional procession led by the Bath Air Cadets marching band made its way through the city centre to the church.
It had been preceded by a high profile march through the city by the crew of HMS Somerset, exercising their right as freemen and women of Bath, and led by the Band of the Royal Marines.
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Inside the abbey, outgoing mayor Councillor Bryan Chalker handed over his chain and robes to Mr Furse.
Mr Furse, who represents Kingsmead ward and is a Liberal Democrat, spoke of his love for Bath, and of his dedication to improving the chances and opportunities for the young people of the city.
To do this he has made his theme NEET Opportunities - the Business of Youth, reflecting the acronym for young people Not in Education, Employment or Training.
Mr Furse said: “I came to this beautiful city in 1989 and I have lived her longer than anywhere else - it is a lovely place to call home.
“But we must remember that there are areas of hardship.
“Today there is a real concern over how our young people find employment and contribute to the city.
“I am looking to engage with the City of Bath College and local businesses as we need to ensure young people have the right skills for today’s labour market especially in Bath.
“The council is active in tackling the graduate retention issues in the city and wider district but we all need to give young people brought up in Bath the inspiration to enter employment, education and training.
“Those already in education and training need the right tools to enter employment and the independence this brings.”
Mr Furse has been a councillor for 16 years, and is a chartered electrical engineer, working in the rail industry for Bath firm Altan-Praxis.
At the moment he is lead safety assessor for London Underground’s Northern Line upgrade and is also working on a signalling project in Copenhagen.
His mayoress will be his wife Mei-Ling, who he met when working on the Taiwan High Speed Rail project in 2006.
Mr Chalker said he had really enjoyed being mayor of Bath, and thanked his wife Glenys for her support in the role of mayoress.
During his time in office Mr Chalker, who represents Lambridge, attended 780 engagements, and made preserving the city’s historic industrial buildings his theme.
He said: “To say this has been a great year is putting it very mildly - it has been a fantastic 12 months.
“It has taken over a great deal of my time, distracting me from every day things such as washing, ironing and colour coordinating my socks.
“It has been a privilege though, and I want to thank my wife Glenys, who has been with me on 95 per cent of my engagements.
“I wish the incoming mayor and mayoress all the best for their year in office.”
The deputy mayor will be Councillor Dine Romero, who has represented Southdown ward for ten years.
She takes over from Councillor Cherry Beath.