BLOG: “The past six months have been an absolute whirlwind”
Lord Mayor of Liverpool Cllr Roy Gladden was sworn in as the city’s First Citizen in May. Here, he looks back at a busy few months which saw him at the centre of historic events as well as the countless community engagements which are such an important part of the Lord Mayor’s diary…
When I stood on the balcony of Liverpool Town Hall, I was filled with pride for our city and its extraordinary people.
As I reach the half-way point of my term as Lord Mayor, I’m reflecting on the earlier years of my life. I was a social worker who met with some of the most vulnerable people in our community during a notorious time of hardship for Liverpool.
I know a lot has changed since then, but standing on that grand balcony, I was also apprehensive about my new role and my responsibility towards the social welfare of Liverpool.
Along with the rest of the nation, we have experienced tremendous change within the last six months. During the Jubilee celebrations, the city came alive with street parties, where I was greeted by bunting, children playing and neighbours laughing. It felt like a real moment of unity.
Only a few months later, I delivered the proclamation that announced King Charles III as the new sovereign; a solemn, truly historic moment that signified both an ending and a beginning.
But while my ceremonial duties have undoubtedly been a privilege, it has been a huge personal honour to witness some of the phenomenal work that has taken place in our communities over the last six months.
From attending the Big Help Fun Day that raised funds to feed the hungry, to honouring nurses at the Queen’s Award for staff at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, I’m constantly reminded by how special the people of Liverpool are.
To be able to give a platform to the charities I have chosen to support whilst I am Lord Mayor has also been a wonderful aspect of this role. For organisations such as the South Liverpool Domestic Abuse Services and Options for Supported Living, it has been particularly important to me to amplify their voices across the city bringing attention to the lifesaving services they provide.
I was delighted to be able to continue in my role as Liverpool’s Armed Forces Champion. As a veteran myself, I am passionate about supporting forces personnel both serving and past through Liverpool Veterans HQ.
I have also had the pleasure of listening to the stories of several exceptional members of our community, as well as the joy of welcoming visitors to our glorious city.
An event honouring trans-pioneer April Ashley was extremely moving and memorable. To me, she absolutely defines the Liverpool spirit. Despite her enemies’ best efforts to knock her down, she remained a real Liverpool girl, with that fierce spirt and hate of injustice that runs through Liverpool’s veins.
I also had the honour of meeting the daughter and granddaughter of the great Nelson Mandela, who had travelled to the city to see artwork which will form part of the city’s permanent memorial in Princes Park.
His family spoke about the man Mandela, rather than the celebrity – about how he believed in his mission even when others disagreed. How he had doubts. How he was human – just like the rest of us.
In safeguarding Liverpool’s international reputation as a city with many enviable assets, I have worked to support the healing of Liverpool’s tourist economy following the pandemic. My experience of being chair of the council’s Culture, Tourism and Visitor Economy Select Committee has proved to be particularly useful, and it has enhanced my ability to act as an ambassador of the city to national and international investors and visitors.
I was in France for the Champions League Final and I watched the events that night unfold with horror. When the authorities initially blamed fans it felt like history repeating itself, but I spoke on behalf of the city in several media interviews making it clear what I saw – fans travelling for a once-in-a-lifetime event, who should have been kept safe. Instead, they returned traumatised.
The past six months have been an absolute whirlwind. I had to quickly give up my evenings and weekends, but it’s a small price to pay as Liverpool’s First Citizen. I am deeply aware of the responsibility that comes with this position – and I vow to continue to do my city proud.