The longest-serving member of Whitby Town Council was elected as the town’s new mayor on Tuesday.
Heather Coughlan, 62, of Pannal Close, has served on the council for over 11 years and was chosen to succeed former mayor John Freeman, who stepped down as mayor after three successive terms (see page 9).
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” she said. “I was bowled over and it’s excellent.”
Although she was born near Newcastle, Cllr Coughlan has lived in Whitby for 43 years.
She initially came to the town after a rain-soaked caravanning holiday to Scarborough. On the way back the family visited friends in Briggswath, the sun came out, and they decided to move to the area soon after.
Although retired, Cllr Coughlan works part-time at Homebase and said the staff will be delighted to have the town’s mayor among their midst. “It’s great fun and I think they will all be pleased,” she added.
After five years as deputy mayor, Cllr Coughlan said she is hoping she can enjoy her time as mayor, but said: “I hope to be able to work hard for the people of Whitby and the surrounding area, and I try to always be available if people need to talk to me.
“I want to help bring Whitby forward into the 21st Century, while keeping the magic of the town alive.”
Ms Coughlan will be supported in her role by deputy mayor Sean Rixham-Smith, who was nominated by Cllr Mike Murphy following the work he has done as part of the council’s Armed Forces Working Group.
“I don’t know what I was more excited about,” added Cllr Coughlan. “Being mayor or being excited for him being deputy, because he was so happy.”
Cllr Rixham-Smith, 48, is a postman and lives on Mickleby Drive with his partner Linda Havelock and daughter Emily-Mae.
Born in Whitby, he has been credited as being the driving force behind such town council schemes as the Armed Forces Day and the erection of Whitby’s War Memorial.
“I have been very proud of it,” he said. “Knowing we have achieved something for the town.”
He added: “There’s so many issues in the town at the moment, I just intend to be there to support Heather as much as possible.
“She may come across as unassuming, but Heather has no fear of anything and if she has something to say, or an opinion, you can count on her to let you know.”
Cllr Coughlan also paid tribute to outgoing mayor, Cllr John Freeman, and Cllr Terry Jennison who came before him. She said: “I have got a hard act to follow. I worked as deputy for them both and they were both great mayors.”