Councillor Brian Bloomfield MBE has said it was “a total honour” to serve as Mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh during 2016 - 2017.
The Lisburn North representative, who completed his term of office last month, says he very much enjoyed his year as First Citizen.
Looking back at a very busy 12 months during which he and his wife Rosalind attended hundreds of civic and community events, Cllr Bloomfield said: “We really did enjoy it very much; the whole year has flown past. Because you’re so involved all day every day it’s quite tiring, but nonetheless, because everything is so different and you’re going from one different event to another that keeps you going.”
The UUP councillor, who was a teacher at Wallace High School from 1988 - 2008, said his year as Mayor included “loads of highlights”.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to see around the whole Lisburn Castlereagh area, see how much voluntary work is being done by lots of different people and involving people of different ages, from very young children right through to elderly adults all being helped along by these volunteers who seem to keep the community moving and are improving the quality of people’s lives. It’s a real privilege to be involved and to see just how much is going on.”
He continued: “It was a total honour and quite unexpected because I came into politics very late. I’m only in since 2011, and to find yourself in the position of Mayor five or six years later was certainly fairly unexpected. But sometimes you get opportunities in life and this opportunity arose and my wife and myself have had a very good year.
“I suppose one of the unexpected bonuses I would have had, having worked as a schoolteacher in Lisburn for 20 years, at almost every event we went to I would have met a former pupil or maybe the parents of a former pupil, so that was always very helpful to give you an opening into a group of people where you thought you weren’t going to know anybody.”
As well as taking on a packed schedule of civic functions and community events, the Mayor was also busy throughout the year raising money for his chosen charity, TinyLife.
“We chose TinyLife as our charity because our grandson, Conor, had been born nine weeks prematurely, so in many ways it was coincidental that along came the opportunity to pick a charity not long after that. We chose TinyLife because they were involved with Conor,” he explained.
“We have been absolutely astounded by the response; people have been so generous. We have raised in excess of £80,000 for the charity and there is still bits and pieces of money coming in, so it will end up closer to £85,000.
“We are absolutely delighted and I know the charity is as well. It takes a lot of money to keep them going as they run a big support organisation across Northern Ireland.”
Cllr Bloomfield thanked his council colleagues for choosing him to serve as Mayor, council staff at all levels for their hard work and support, and people across the district for their warm welcome throughout the year. He also thanked his drivers, Glen and Joe, and the staff of TinyLife for their support at the various fundraising events held throughout the year.
Asked if he had any words of wisdom for his successor, Alliance Councillor Tim Morrow, Cllr Bloomfield said: “The only thing I said to him is to do it his way and don’t try to copy anybody else, to just do it the way he feels comfortable.
“I wish him all the best and I hope he gets as much out of it as I got out of it.”
While he’s unlikely to be selected to serve as Mayor again, Cllr Bloomfield said that should such an opportunity arise in future, it would be “a great honour and something that would be very hard to say no to.”