Monday, 21 June 2021

Henley Rotary Club

A SMALL attendance at last week’s lunchtime meeting at the Red Lion Hotel listened to Henley Mayor Julian Brookes talk about “My year as Mayor”.

Pointing out that he would not hand over to his successor until May, the Mayor listed some of the “highs” that he particularly remembered.

These included the Mayor’s charity dinner at the end of March, the Heroes’ Return of the Rio Olympians in September, the various Christmas festivities, the Thames Traditional Boat Festival (when the sea cadets mounted a guard of honour for him) and the Remembrance Sunday service.

Having visited every primary school (state and independent) in the town, he said he had always been impressed by the questions from the six- and seven-year-olds.

His diary had been particularly busy throughout the year and on September 15 he had seven engagements!

Councillor Brookes praised the great number of societies in Henley, including Rotary, and, in an amusing aside, he revealed that he had managed to persuade people to talk to him on the telephone if he said “the Mayor of Henley” rather than “Julian Brookes”.

He said he did not really have any low points, although chairing full council meetings was challenging. He had been criticised for letting councillors speak for too long but he believed in democracy.

Answering a question later about whether a council with the status of a parish council should have so much politics, he agreed that the meetings were in fact as exciting as they had been described, adding: “We do squabble.”

Cllr Brookes said that when he was elected to the council two years ago, he had never considered becoming mayor but he had enjoyed the role immensely.

Asked whether he would do it again, he replied that the decision would also rest with his wife, Gabriele, who had had to undertake many duties as Mayoress that she had not expected to do.

He also hoped that it would be possible to attract more professionals into council work.

Cllr Brookes said that although he had not visited any of Henley’s twin towns, he had received a delegation from Leichlingen in June and from Borama in July.

Peter Thomson proposed the vote of thanks.

In the unavoidable absence on business of the president Lionel Scott, Maria Bunina, the club’s president-elect, took the chair.

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