Comber Rotarians were recently fortunate to have as their speaker, Past Mayor of Ards & North Down Alderman Deborah Girvan. The general idea was to give a flavour of her year in office, and it was really worth a listen.

Debra’s philosophy was based on the premise that, whatever the skill set and personality of the person, the mayor is for everyone, and she endeavoured to work for our borough, our future, and to recognise and respect our cultural diversity.

She gave countless examples of the sorts of things that a mayor does in a year; would the average rate payer believe that she fulfilled more than 750 engagements? In her year she attended concerts, award ceremonies, meetings, civic receptions, food festivals, competitions, clubs, Remembrance Sunday, switching on Christmas lights – and many, many more.

On her watch there have been some significant capital projects; not least improving decaying buildings and the new street lights and pavements in Bangor, Comber and Donaghadee. This goes a long way in branding our towns, helping to promote good economic energy. She also alluded to ideas for a European Columbian highway, which would be very much a reflection of our Christian heritage, and potentially attract many foreign visitors.

Debra said that she had been very impressed by the facilities in the borough – from the many sports and leisure opportunities that exist in the area – and she had developed a great admiration for the countless community groups and associations.

£24,000 was raised during the year for her three chosen charities – integrated education, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the local office of the Samaritans.

On reflection, Debra had great pride in the Best in the Borough event, also in NEET – young people not in employment, education or training, and in Comber’s farmers market. She had also found that her connections with people were often emotional and humbling.

Altogether a fascinating insight into some aspects of the life of a mayor

Story by: JD


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