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New mayor of Newbury is sworn in at ceremony today (Sunday)



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Arthur Johnson, a Liberal Democrat town councillor of nine years for the Pyle Hill ward, became the new town mayor at a somewhat humourous official engagement.
Unafraid to take the rise out of himself, Mr Johnson, a man of considerably shorter stature than the outgoing mayor Jeff Beck, warmed to the audience of townspeople and local dignitaries by asking for a foot stool to stand on as he stood at the lectern to make his acceptance speech.
After already taking several comments on the chin about the length of his mayoral robe, which dwarfed him, he said: “My first act as mayor will be to get this robe shortened!”
The ceremony had begun with the procession of town councillors from the town hall to the Corn Exchange and was opened with singing by head girl of Trinity School, Newbury, Bethany Coopey, who performed various pop songs.
In his speech, Mr Johnson thanked Bethany, and the two other girls who sang during the ceremony - Lucy Davy, a Park House School, Newbury, pupil about to embark on her first year at Leicester University, and Mel Collins, his next door neighbour who in 2010 entered a national singing competition, only to lose out to her father who won the competition.
The singers received praise not only for their polished performances but for bravely stepping up to the microphone, despite it not being switched on, which also drew a few chuckles and smirks from town councillors and the audience.
Mr Johnson, who in his spare time is a football fan and local DJ, was formally proposed as mayor of the town by councillor Julian Swift-Hook (Lib Dem, Pyle Hill), who highlighted his active roles on the Newbury Carnival committee and in helping to organise forthcoming Queen’s diamond jubilee and Olympic celebrations in Newbury this year.
The proposal was seconded by councillor Phil Barnett (Lib Dem, Clay Hill), and Mr Johnson announced his chosen charity of the year as the Prostate Cancer Charity, for which a fundraising coffee morning will be held at the town hall on August 11.
Anthony Pick was elected deputy mayor of Newbury, proposed by councillor Adrian Edwards (Con, Falkland), who informed the audience that Mr Pick was fairly new to the town council but had already played an active role in the town, joining the Newbury Society in 2004 and becoming involved in the organisation of English Heritage days in Newbury since 2008.
Mr Pick, both a Cambridge University physics graduate and Oxford University history graduate, moved to Newbury in 1981 with his wife Irene, who died in 2007, and their two sons.
During the ceremony, outgoing mayor Jeff Beck and his wife Alma, the mayoress, were thanked by several councillors for their commitment to their roles, with Mr Beck having attended 291 engagements and his wife having accompanied him to 213 of these. They also raised £3,349 for charity during the past municipal year.
Mr Beck remains as a Conservative councillor for the Clay Hill ward on the town council and is also a West Berkshire district councillor.



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