The next Mayor of Worthing is pledging to support the building of communities during his year in office.
Councillor Paul Baker will don the Borough’s century-old robes and chain for the first time on Friday (May 18, 2018) when he set to be elected to post at Worthing Borough Council’s annual meeting.
In the next 12 months, the avid singer and rugby fan will be the town’s first citizen, combining attending hundreds of events with his full-time job as an engineer.
He will also raise money for three local charities: Guild Care Haviland House dementia care home, Ferring Country Centre and Love Your Hospital, which is the the dedicated charity for Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
After putting on the century-old robes for the first time on Friday, Cllr Baker will waste no time getting on to business – with the mayor’s inaugural dinner that evening followed by a picnic for the Royal Wedding on Saturday in Broadwater. A civic service at St George’s church will take place on Sunday.
Cllr Baker, who was elected to represent Broadwater ward on Worthing Borough Council in 2016, said: “I’m looking forward to meeting as many people as possible and doing my best to make the year beneficial to our town.”
Cllr Baker was born and bred in the town and follows his father and grandfather in serving the local community as both were employed by the council.
He will be accompanied throughout the year by his wife Sandra, who works as a local estate agent. They recently celebrated their Pearl wedding anniversary.
Speaking on the eve of the annual meeting, Cllr Baker said he was looking forward to a busy and productive year ahead.
Cllr Baker said: “I became a Councillor, as most people do, to try and help people and make positive changes for the good of Worthing.
“My priorities are assisting in building communities, working with community associations and neighbourhood groups, and promoting volunteering for the good of everyone in the town.”
Cllr Baker’s Deputy Mayor will be Councillor Hazel Thorpe, who represents Tarring ward.
He succeeds Councillor Alex Harman, who was the youngest ever borough mayor in the country. In the last year, Cllr Harman raised £17,556.69 for his chosen local charities – the Ashdown Centre, Worthing Mencap and Worthing Alzheimer’s Society.
Read the Q&A below to find out more about the new mayor Paul Baker.
What is your background?
Born and bred in Worthing, I was brought up in Durrington and attended Durrington Primary School, West Tarring County Secondary School, Northbrook College and Brighton Technical College where I obtained an HNC in Electrical Engineering.
I follow in a long family tradition with the the Borough Council as my father worked for the authority for more than 40 years in street lighting and highways; as did his grandfather before him, who was a street light lense cleaner on a bike with ladder and bucket – there was no health and safety those days!
I served an Electrical Engineering apprenticeship at Beecham Pharmaceuticals and went on to be a hospital field service engineer and area sales manager. In 2000 myself and my wife Sandra purchased a small hotel in Worthing which we ran for ten years. I have since moved back into electrical sales and now work as a technical support engineer for ABB UK Ltd in both solar energy and electric vehicle charging.
I’m looking forward to meeting as many people as possible and doing my best to make the year beneficial to our town.
What are your interests away from being a councillor?
Singing – I have sung with many local choirs and performing varied pieces from Handel’s Messiah to Guns n Roses.I have a passion for rugby too – I played 1st XV rugby for Worthing RFC during the 1980’s and was President for three years.
Why did you become a councillor?
I became a Councillor, as most people do, to try and help people and make positive changes for the good of Worthing.
What are your priorities for the coming year as Mayor?
My priorities are assisting in building communities, working with community associations and neighbourhood groups, and promoting volunteering for the good of everyone in the town.
Which charities will you be supporting as Mayor?
What are your three favourite things about Worthing?
My three favourite things about Worthing are: the people who live here, their friendliness and positive attitude; Worthing’s location with the sea to the south and the Downs to the north; and the variety of things to do, the theatres, museum, restaurants and amenities.
Tell us something about the mayoralty we didn’t know?
The Mayoral Chain weighs in at 32oz and was paid for by public subscription in 1891.