As his time as Wrexham’s Mayor comes to an end, we caught up with Cllr Rob Walsh to look back over the past two years. Here are some thoughts from Wrexham’s outgoing Mayor…
How much have you enjoyed your time as Mayor of Wrexham?
Being Mayor of Wrexham has been the greatest honour of my life. To have the good fortune to become your home town’s first citizen is a dream come true and something I will always treasure. I look at the names of previous Mayors on the board at the Guildhall and the photos on the wall of the council chamber; to join them is a true privilege.
What are some of the things you’re especially proud of during your period as Mayor?
My mayoral term has been a tale of two halves. I am especially proud of all the engagements I attended during the first year and all the people I have met. What I have enjoyed most of all is being myself and that means a lot to the many residents I have had the good fortune to meet. The second year has been difficult due to the restrictions, but I have been proud at how I have held on and adapted to the role in an ‘online way’. However, the real mayoral experience does involve meeting people and doing a second year was the only option, otherwise my successor would have missed out on so much.
How challenging has the Covid-19 pandemic been and how did this affect your duties?
It effectively brought most of my duties to a standstill. Having said that, without the pandemic I would have finished as Mayor 12 months ago. I was there to act as a stopgap to make sure the next Mayor (Cllr. Ronnie Prince) gets the mayoral year he deserves. Most of my duties had to be cancelled, or became new online events. I am proud of how I adapted but there is no substitute to attending events in person and meeting members of the public.
The paper chains you wore in recent times generated quite a lot of coverage; can you remind us how that came about?
Due to the pandemic, it meant I was not allowed to wear the mayoral chains without being accompanied by a member of council staff. Now that I was expected to Chair council meetings from home, the tradition of wearing the chains for meetings had ground to a halt. To keep up the tradition I thought I would ask the pupils of Llay Park CP School (my ward) to make a replica chain out of paper. I thought this would be a good way of keeping tradition in the wake of meetings and some other engagements having to be conducted in a remote way. I am grateful to the pupils of Park CP for their amazing chain. It has allowed me to continue the mayoral identity. Hopefully, the next Mayor will be able to resume wearing the real chains in public very soon.
Thankfully, restrictions are continuing to ease, but looking back you must be pleased with how people in Wrexham have managed to work through such a challenging period?
I am incredibly proud of the people of Wrexham as to how they have coped during this pandemic. The town and its communities are very sociable, so to cut off that social contact must have been very difficult for everyone. Personally, I have found the past year very challenging and yearn for a return to social interaction. However, despite the frustrations the people of Wrexham have been very resilient and put up with the restrictions as they knew it was the right thing to do. Many must have suffered great mental anguish, but they put the greater good first. My heart also goes out to all the families of those who have passed away as a result of Covid-19.
The Hollywood investment in Wrexham Football Club has certainly got a lot of people talking…are you excited for the future of Wrexham?
Very excited. When I first saw the news of Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney taking over Wrexham AFC, I thought it must be some sort of a joke. But it has been serious and the supporters I know of – who have followed proceedings closer than me – have been full of praise for both gentlemen and their commitment to the town and the club. I would have loved to have met them both when they do visit Wrexham, but that will be a job for the next Mayor. This has certainly put Wrexham on the map and the future looks brighter than this time last year. Fingers crossed.
Do you have any advice for the incoming Mayor?
Ronnie is an experienced councillor so the traits needed to be a successful Mayor he already has. My only tips would be: 1. Be yourself. 2. Go out of your way to speak to as many people as possible. Many people won`t approach the Mayor due to shyness, but by approaching them you can often make their day. 3. Watch what you eat. Many mayoral engagements involve food and many previous Mayors have fallen into the trap of gaining weight during their term of office. I would love to say that I didn’t fall into that trap, but I’m afraid to say I have probably been the worst for not avoiding food.
Any final words for the people of Wrexham?
Thank you so much for the kindness that you have shown during my term. Every event I have attended I have been met with such goodwill. I have learnt so much as well. Wrexham is full of unsung heroes who dedicate so much of their time (often voluntarily) to improving the lives of others. I am so glad I have had the opportunity to see Wrexham for what it truly is – a wonderful, kind, caring cluster of communities.SEE LATEST COVID RULES