‘I was very humbled and felt priviaged to take on the role’
Lisburn’s First Citizen, Councillor Nicholas Trimble, had a tough year during his term as Mayor as the Covid-19 pandemic swept the city.
Sadly, Mr Trimble wasn’t able to get out and about as much as he would have liked since he was nominated to the city’s top post in June last year, however he has been heartened to see the people of Lisburn come together during these difficult months in lockdown.
Mr Trimble is well known as the son of former Ulster Unionist Leader David Trimble. Despite this, the Mayor insists he did not set out to follow in his father’s footsteps into the political arena.
“Politics was something I wanted to steer clear of,” admitted Mr Trimble. “No one believes me but it’s the truth.”
After helping a friend run for election in 2014, Mr Trimble was talked into becoming treasurer of the local UUP branch before being co-opted onto Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council in 2016 to represent Lisburn North.
When Mr Trimble was appointed as the city’s Mayor in June last year he was thrilled to take up the post but, given that the city was in lockdown, he knew there was a difficult time ahead. “I was very humbled and felt privileged to take on the role,” he said. “Although it was not without some trepidation. When I took on the role I knew the one thing that would shape the term would be Covid and our response to it.”
During the last year Mr Trimble has embraced technology in helping to stay connected with people in the local community. “A lot more things are online and I’ve been talking to people on Zoom rather than being able to go out and physically meet with them,” he said.
The use of technology came to the fore at Christmas when Mr Trimble donned his best Christmas jumper and Santa hat to switch on the city’s lights with a festive family friendly sketch online, which proved to be a huge hit. More recently, alongside Pete Snodden, he hosted the Mayor’s Community Awards live via Zoom with a virtual audience.
Covid also had an impact on his choice of Mayoral charity for the year. “I had been thinking about what charity I would support but when Covid hit I knew we would have to do everything as a council to support local people,” continued Mr Trimble . “I choose Lisburn and Dundonald Foodbanks as my Mayoral charity because they are meeting people in their direct need, giving support to those who can’t get out to the shops or who financially can’t afford to put food on the table. The demand for their services has skyrocketed and it is great that they are there. Fundraising has been a challenge as we are unable to raise the volumes that we would have raised without Covid restrictions but even being able to raise awareness of the work of the food banks has been worthwhile.”
With just two months left until he hands over his chain of office to the city’s next Mayor, Mr Trimble isn’t putting his feet up just yet, with plans for funding and celebrations both still in the pipeline “There are a couple of things still to do,” he continued. “We are trying to put together funds to support local community groups and hopefully another fund for young innovators.
“The Mayor’s Parade will be celebrated virtually this year and we are planning a programme of online events that I think people will enjoy. It is not without regret that I won’t have a proper parade but the last thing I would want is a big congregation of people together.
“We are also looking forward to our centenary celebrations, which will also be virtual but we have put together a great programme of events. A lot of thought has gone into it. It is tasteful and there will be something for everyone. It is not about triumphalism but about bringing people together.”
As his term in office comes to an end, Mr Trimble admits it hasn’t been an easy year, however he is hopeful that Lisburn can bounce back from this pandemic to become bigger and better than ever.
“It has been a really challenging year for all of us,” he said.
“We have come through worse as a people before and we need to make sure that there is support out there for everyone who needs it.”