"I feel humbled and enormously proud" - new Lord Mayor of Sheffield appointed
Councillor Gail Smith became the new Lord Mayor of Sheffield during a historic meeting today.
Labour councillor and outgoing Lord Mayor Tony Downing passed on the ceremonial chains and gown to the Liberal Democrat councillor during the first in-person public meeting of Sheffield Council in more than a year.
Ponds Forge International Sports Centre was used for the council’s annual meeting instead of the Town Hall so councillors could social distance.
As she was formally appointed the a-political role, Coun Smith said: “I feel humbled and enormously proud to be the Lord Mayor of Sheffield and first citizen of our great city.
“Sheffield has been my home, the place I was born and the place I intend to live for the rest of my life.”
She was born in Handsworth, the youngest of seven children, and was first elected councillor in 1992 to Brightside ward which she said was inspirational as it was the “safest Labour seat in South Yorkshire” at the time.
Coun Smith has now been a councillor for 16 years and a representative for Mosborough ward for the past three terms.
Her chosen charities to support during her time as Lord Mayor are: the Salvation Army, NHS Trust and Friends of Hi5s.
Labour Coun Sioned-Mair Richards will be the deputy Lord Mayor.
Coun Downing is possibly the city’s longest-serving Lord Mayor as due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he carried on for an extra year.
He said he raised £43,696 for his three chosen charities during his time in the role, these were: Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Sheffield Sea Cadets and the Weston Park Cancer Charity.
Coun Downing, who is also a representative for Mosborough ward, as he said goodbye to the position, said: “It has been an absolute honour and privilege to serve this great city of Sheffield as the 123rd Lord Mayor and I would like to thank everyone who has supported us…
“What a wonderful time we have had, we have done so much and met so many wonderful people.”
*To read more news about Sheffield City Council head to the politics section on The Star’s website.