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The Inaugural Lord Mayor’s Gala Performance takes place at the Phil on April 8, and promises a variety show line-up full of incredible entertainment, all from Liverpool.
Ahead of the event, The Guide spoke to Mary about her year and what a Lord Mayor brings to Liverpool …
I’ve been a councillor 15 years. I’m from Garston and I’d worked with people in the city in lots of different ways, I’d had 48 jobs by the time I was 40! I’ve been a spot welder, a lab assistant, owned a pub, helped people get into employment, been a nurse … I think if I was told I couldn’t do it, I’d have to prove I could. I had to be talked into standing for the Speke/Garston ward, I said I’d do it for one term if I got elected and got completely hooked.
I didn’t think the role of Lord Mayor was really me, I like to do things a bit differently, but then people told me I should just be me and they were right. You’ve got to be yourself in the role and play to your own strengths. I’m 69 now but I will never retire, I’ve got to have something to keep me motivated and get me angry so that I can try and fix it.
People can be a bit scared but then when they speak to me for about a minute they say ‘aw, I wish I’d have known you were like that’ and the fear goes very quickly.
I had a good idea of what the role entailed but it’s actually far better than I thought. I’ve had some laughs, and I’m not a weepy person but I’ve been brought to tears a few times by the kindness of people. It’s been an amazing, amazing year. I was at the Cathedral for Remembrance Sunday when we had the terrorist attack at the Women’s and it was scary, but I always say Liverpool under pressure is at its best. One of the highlights was giving Bishop Tom the Freedom of the City. When Bishop Tom was a newly ordained priest, his first church was my parish in Garston – St Francis of Assisi – he christened my first daughter, but sadly he also performed the mass for her funeral two years ago. Being able to give the Freedom to Tom was such an honour for me. He’s a true man of the people.
We’ve had a Lord Mayor since the 1800s but I’m only the 16th woman to hold the position. I think the Lord Mayor brings something different because you’ve got to be apolitical for that year. The Lord Mayor belongs to the people, we’re the lucky ones who get to wear the chain to represent the people of this city and that’s what’s important. I haven’t had one attack, even on social media, in my time as Lord Mayor. As a politician you get slated every day, but as Lord Mayor I’ve had nothing but nice comments.
There is no usual day, the busiest day I had was six events one after the other and I crawled into bed! The average is two a day, but that’s seven days a week. I haven’t taken days off since I’ve been Lord Mayor, because it seems wrong to be on holiday if people invite you to an event that they’ve been organising for months, or even years. I could be doing school visits, church and social events, and I’ve been invited to so many different communities and made welcome in every single one of them. I’ve been fed more food than I’ve ever eaten in my life and that’s a lovely feeling, when people care enough to want to feed you.
It will be a proper laugh! They asked if I could have it anywhere, where would it be, so I said straight away The Philharmonic. I only went as a child with the school, my parents couldn’t afford the Phil, and I still remember hearing the Flight of the Bumblebee. I said we had to price the tickets as cheaply as we could so we put them at £15 but it worried me that I know so many people who can’t afford £15 so we asked businesses to sponsor tickets. The businesses have been so kind, so far they’ve bought over 800 tickets, so I can go to community leaders and say, ‘here’s 20, 30, 50 tickets, give them to families or older people or children, anyone who’s usually excluded.’ Anything we make will go to the Lord Mayor’s charities, but I’m more proud of the social value for the families who will have a night out at the Phil. You really can’t buy that.
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