08:57AM, Monday 27 May 2013
Councillor Colin Rayner's term as Mayor of Windsor and Maidenhead came to an end on Tuesday when he handed over the ceremonial mace, seal and keys to his successor Cllr Andrew Jenner.
He told reporter Francis Batt about a life-changing year spent attending events in the Royal Borough with his wife and mayoress Samantha, one that at times moved him to tears.
Q) What has been the highlight of your year as mayor?
A) It wasn't lighting the Jubilee beacon next to the Copper Horse, or even the state visit - although I'll never forget them.
The highlight was totally unexpected. We visited the Boyn Grove Community Resource Centre for adults with learning disabilities.
We had been to six or seven parties already that day. It was the end of the day and we were tired. But from the moment we were greeted by an Elvis lookalike with an umbrella it was wonderful. They had prepared a mural for the Queen with such love and care.
It was the only time I was cheered as mayor when I left. Samantha and I were both in tears.
Q) What was the worst moment of the year?
A) I attended the Christmas Day dinner at SportsAble and there were a number of homeless people there, people I had been at school with and some I had done business with.
There were the usual reasons for what had happened to them - divorce, alcoholism, business bankruptcies. It was thought provoking.
Q) What was the funniest moment?
A) I was visited at the mayor's parlour in the Guildhall by scouts and guides.
Everyone wanted to play a game called On Board Ship. The leaders were concerned there had not been a risk assessment, as the game involves a lot of running about.
I told them I could predict that if we played it there would be some blood, someone would cry and someone would be sick. I was right on all three counts but we did it anyway and everyone had a great time.
Q) Do you think we are too obsessed with avoiding risk nowadays?
A) I won't say which group - but one had to cancel a visit to see the mayor because someone had forgotten to fill in a risk assessment form in advance to cover crossing a dangerous road on the way.
Q) Did you try to be a traditional mayor?
A) I brought back the mayor's chaplain and the procession into the council chamber before a meeting. Too much of the past has been lost. It was an appalling mistake in 1962 to demolish the old Maidenhead Guildhall from the 1700s but it can't be undone now.
Q) Did you rebel against anything?
A) Ever since Maidenhead and Windsor were combined in 1974 it has been the rule that the mayor wears the Windsor chain of office and mace - Maidenhead's stays in storage.
I felt that the Maidenhead chain should be given equal weight and I wore it on Remembrance Day even though I was told I couldn't do it.
Q) Your bowler hat has become a distinctive sight during your year in office. How did this happen?
A) I'm a member of the Royal Agricultural Society of England and the uniform is pinstriped suit and bowler when they hold events.
It is actually very warm and as this year has been so wet and cold it has been perfect for several mayoral occasions too.
Q) What has been the biggest surprise of the year?
A) When my wife and I realised we didn't know Maidenhead at all. We thought we did. But the more people we met and more of the town's life we saw the more realised how much more there was to the town than we had ever known. It has been life changing.
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