12:34PM, Thursday 24 October 2013
A familiar face at thousands of events across the Royal Borough has parked up the mayor's car for the last time.
After more than 15 years as mayor's officer for the borough, Fred Simmonds has taken the decision to retire and will bow out with a farewell reception at Maidenhead Town Hall today.
Since taking up the role in April 1997, the 71-year-old has worked with numerous mayors, met the Queen, and played a key in civic events across the borough.
As well as driving the mayor to official engagements, Fred's many duties including acting as official mace bearer and being responsible for the borough's silverware.
He also gives talks to schools about the borough and its civic regalia, a role he hopes to continue as a volunteer after retirement.
Fred said he decided to step down after feeling he was 'getting a bit past it' but has fond memories of the role and the esteemed company he often kept.
"I have met the Queen on a couple of occasions and carried the mace with her," he said.
"The best memories were the Royal occasions. I was very privileged to be able to do that."
One of the more unusual aspects for the father-of-two was working with a new mayor each year, all of whom had a different approach to the role.
Many were more than happy to attend four or five engagements a day and Fred estimates he attended an average of 600 events per year.
He got the role after spending many years as a freelance chauffeur in the borough, and has lived in the Cookhams for most of his life.
A keen keyboardist, Fred, who lives in Whyteladyes Lane, said he hopes to working with charities including the Royal Naval Association and the Royal Observer Corps Association in retirement.
Mark Blackshaw, a serving member of the mayor's team, has taken over his duties.
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