The mayor of Brighton and Hove bowed out this afternoon (Thursday 12 May) having represented the city and the council for the past 12 months and having raised £60,000 for charity.
Councillor Lynda Hyde returns to the Conservative benches, with Councillor Pete West taking over the chains of office. He is only the second Green mayor, taking on the role four years after his former colleague Bill Randall.
Councillor Hyde said: “This has been the best year of my life and this is for many reasons.
“I have been able to attend so many charity events to give support. I knew that Brighton, Hove and Portslade was full of generous people but I had no idea of how much time and energy these people give to our city.
“Some of you may recall when I came into office I said I wanted to support volunteers as I felt they were the glue which holds society together.
“I have always believed most people to be decent and giving and have had this confirmed over and over again.
“We do indeed live in a wonderful city.
“As mayor, the engagements I attend are many and varied. You will note I have attended 565 events.
“I wanted to be inclusive reaching out to all sections of our community. Two examples of this are the very formal occasion of the installation of Bishop Richard Moth as Bishop of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton at Arundel Cathedral, followed by a reception at Arundel Castle and being introduced to the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk, contrasted by visiting a local cats rescue home who soon needed to find new premises. I have assisted them in their quest for new premises.
“Most engagements sit somewhere between these two.
“I have attended many concerts, gone into schools to talk about the mayoralty, visited churches and synagogues, attended Royal British Legion ceremonies, many graduation days, held receptions in the Mayor’s Parlour and opened nine bowling seasons on nine different pitches in one day.
“I heard on the grapevine that this event is known as death by tea and cake because all of the clubs are so hospitable.
“I started off the Brighton Marathon with Zoe Ball and held the tape as the winner came in, handed out prizes to many of our schools on various sports days and tournaments, welcomed the Japanese and Somoan rugby players at the Dome and was lucky enough to watch the Japanese match at the Amex stadium.
“I have attended a lot of the arts events and I have enjoyed many a performance put on by the city’s gay choirs.
“I have also delivered hundreds of speeches. This is just a very small selection from my engagements over the year. I also attended two events on Christmas day.
“People often ask me what has been my favourite event but I cannot choose one.
“Yes, of course I have enjoyed some engagements more than others but how do I compare the Pride Parade with the Remembrance Day service, the look of joy when the university graduates walk across the Dome stage to collect their degree certificate, to the look of amazement on the children’s faces when I walk into their school in my robes and tricorn hat – which most of the children think is a pirate’s hat – to the joy of stroking a dog with a wagging tail who I know is about to be rehomed from the dog rescue centre.
“Also, I have supported Brighton and Hove Albion and still expect them to be in the Premier League next season.
“Taking all of this into account, my response to what I have enjoyed most of all is the variation in the events I attend and the mental stimulation this gives me.
“I have tried to be a good ambassador for the city when attending engagements outside of the city. I have endeavoured to put a human face on local government and I have been absolutely thrilled to be told on many occasions that ‘you are a people’s mayor’.
“I am told this is because I take a great interest in all the events I attend and I am friendly. I think it helps that I talk a lot.
“The mayoralty remains a stable institution but it had a very lucky escape not so long ago.
“Now to my charities – the Argus Appeal, the Grace Eyre Foundation and the Martlets. I am delighted to say I have raised £60,000 which I understand is a record amount raised for the mayor’s charities.”
She paid tribute to those who served on the mayor’s charity committee including the cyclists who have just completed the Brighton to Paris charity cycle ride from the i360 to the Eiffel Tower.
She said: “Without all of these wonderful and dedicated people none of this would have been possible. I thank you with all of my heart.”
She also thanked the members of her family who shared the role of mayor’s consort: “They have been fabulous in their roles and of great help to me. I have to give a special mention to my grandson Max who has been outstanding.
“He was only 12 when I became mayor and has carried out his duties as consort with dignity and knowledge. He always accompanies me not just in formal trousers, jacket and tie but with a waistcoat and a gold watch and chain too.
“My thanks go to Martin Warren from the civic office who has run my diary and organised everything I have done.
“My thanks go to the drivers who have got me to events on time regardless of traffic conditions and watched over me while on engagements.
“A special thanks go to Robbie who has attended so many of the events before. He also seems to know everyone in the city and where every door to every building is situated.
“I could not have maintained my role as mayor with the dignity I hope I have portrayed without the knowledge and expertise of Robbie and the other drivers.
“Thanks also go to my lovely Chaplain Father John (Wall) who has been a joy to work with. John is one of the kindest and most caring men I have met. He dedicates his life to supporting everyone who needs him.
“Moreover, he laughs a lot and I like to do that too. I wish him much happiness when he moves to Uckfield to take up his new ministry.
“Thank you also to the Lord Lieutenant who helped with his kindly advice on engagements when I first became mayor.
“My thanks to Councillor Geoffrey Theobald for putting my name forward for the mayoralty (and) the deputy Mayor for stepping in when my diary would not allow me to attend.
“Finally to all of the members here in the chamber for conducting the council business so professionally, making my job as chairman that much easier.
“There have been some difficult moments such as when I was asked to get onto a stage to deliver a speech and there were not any steps to assist me. I’m not terribly tall and I was wearing a straight skirt under my robes.
“Also, on Remembrance Sunday when I was determined to lay the wreath at Rottingdean who hold their service at midday.
“To do this I first had to attend the service at the Steine and then hope I could arrive in time at Rottingdean.
“I actually got to the Green at 11.59, leapt out of the car, lifted up my gown – a little – so I did not fall over it, held my chains down and rushed across the Green.
“This raised a few smiles, including one from the priest as I took my place behind the wreath with decorum and dignity but a little out of breath.
“Very soon we will have a new mayor, Councillor Pete West. I hope he and his family have a wonderful year.
“Should his time as mayor be anything like my year then he is guaranteed to have just this.
“My year has been fantastic and I am grateful for having the opportunity to represent the city of Brighton and Hove as mayor.”
Councillor Geoffrey Theobald, proposing a vote of thanks, said that the feedback from the public was that Councillor Hyde had been “warm and twinkly”
He said: “She has always been good humoured. As you rightly say, Mr Mayor, you’ve got a hard act to follow.”
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty echoed his praise and said that she had been “a fantastic ambassador for the city”.
He praised “the colossal amount she raised for charity” and spoke about her “commitment, warmth and generosity of spirit”.
Council leader Warren Morgan, supporting the vote of thanks, said: “You fizzed with enthusiasm like a mayoral dynamo.”