Dromore Councillor Olive Mercer looks back on her year as Banbridge District Council chairman as one that called for her full commitment but ranked nonetheless as a great honour and privilege.
It was a demanding role, she said, and one quite properly limited to a year and shared among councillors.
“You have got to be fully committed to it,” she said. “There are occasions when it would not be unusual to have three or four engagements in one day; its a full-time commitment for that year.
“It can be all-consuming and that’s part of the role; a year is certainly adequate and it’s right that it should be shared around.”
That said, to serve as chairman, according to Councillor Mercer, was to serve as an ambassador for all the people of the area, a privilege she never felt more keenly than when meeting the many community activists among them.
“You are very much an ambassador for the district,” she said, “and you are working for everyone; all communities deserve equal attention and respect.
“It’s something I’ve enjoyed and it has been an honour and a privilege, particularly to meet all the different people, especially the volunteers and community workers.”
In a year in which there were no VIP visitors or otherwise obvious high-profile events, it was difficult, said Mrs Mercer, to pinpoint a specific highlight of her year as Chairman.
“Beyond that,” she said, “ it would be unfair to single anything out; everything has its own merit.”
She was, however, particularly proud to have been associated as chairman with a variety of charity fundraising initiatives, beneficiaries including food banks in Banbridge and Dromore and the Southern Area Hospice.
“The main charity was Chron’s Disease and Colitis UK and almost £5,000 was raised for that,” she said.
Thanking her fellow councillors and council staff for their support, Mrs Mercer also summed up her term as a year of equally profound contrasts, from the joy of meeting children and families enjoying Christmas festivities to the poignancy of marking Remembrance Day events.