A FORMER social worker who moved to the borough in the 1960s has spoken of his pride at being named St Helens’ new mayor.

Billinge and Seneley Green councillor Joe Pearson will take on the borough’s most prominent ambassadorial position for the next 12 months, succeeding Cllr Dave Banks after being sworn in at today’s (Wednesday 17) council meeting at the town hall.

Born in Wrexham, North Wales, Cllr Pearson, moved to St Helens with wife Sylvia in 1968.

He worked as a social worker in Liverpool and his career spanned over 35 years during which he worked for a number of other local authorities before joining the National Care Standards Commission in year 2002. He retired from work in 2004.

Wife Sylvia, who Cllr Pearson married in 1964 and has two children with called Rachel and Christopher, will take on the role as mayoress.

First elected to the council in 2007, Cllr Pearson also sits on the governing committees at both Garswood Primary School and Billinge Chapel End Primary School – and has chaired the council’s Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Panel.

Looking ahead to his mayoral year, Cllr Pearson said: “It’s a great honour to be named mayor of St Helens and to represent the fine people of the borough.

“Sylvia and I are thoroughly looking forward to the next 12 months as we look to get out into the community to witness first-hand the fantastic work that goes on in our town for the benefit of others.”

At the ceremony, Cllr Pearson added: “I have spent most of my career in local government as a social worker and manager. The experience has given me a look inside into how communities work and how individuals function within them.”

Cllr Pearson has chosen St Helens Mind as his mayoral charity, which is an independent, user focused service for local people who are experiencing isolation and distress due to mental ill health.

Outgoing mayor, Cllr Dave Banks, who attended more than 350 civic events over the past year and has raised more than £10,000 for bereavement charity Jenson’s Twinkle Stars, added: “All good things must come to an end, and that includes my year as mayor of St Helens.

“The past 12 months have been the busiest, but best I’ve ever known –and the memories will live with me and my wife Jeanette for the rest of our lives.”

The ceremony also saw Thatto Heath councillor Pat Ireland named as deputy mayor for 2017-18.