A close aid and confidante to the city’s Lord Mayors for over three decades has been recognised with a prestigious Leeds award.
This follows 33 years of unbroken loyal service as a member of the Lord Mayor’s team by John Wilson, who until his retirement in September 2016 as Sergeant-at-Mace for nearly 25 years, was a constant and popular presence at civic engagements attended by the Lord Mayor both at home and abroad. In appreciation of his contribution to civic life and the city, John’s name will now adorn the wall with other winners of the Leeds Award in the ante chamber of Leeds Civic Hall.
Whether it was at an engagement with the general public, celebrities, various heads of state including Her Majesty the Queen or Nelson Mandela, John’s professional and warm manner was always a credit to the city of Leeds, the Lord Mayor and their office. Famed for his sense of humour, coolness under pressure and ability to find a solution to the most unexpected problem or issue that arose, John was also known for his gift of being able to convince people to donate money to the Lord Mayor’s appeal. John was always more than happy to roll up his sleeves in aid of charity, and while Sergeant-at-Mace organised fund raising events ranging from car washes, bowling nights to afternoon teas.
John has also accompanied Lord Mayors on many visits overseas over the years with visits to China, Germany, Czech Republic, France, South Africa, Spain, Ireland, Serbia, Romania and Pakistan. Such was John’s popularity on these tours he also once had a goat named after him!
Present to hand over the prestigious Leeds Award to John who was accompanied by his family was the current Lord Mayor, Councillor Gerry Harper.
The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Gerry Harper, said:
“John offered a wealth of support to me and 24 other Lord Mayors during his time as Sergeant-at-Mace, and I am not exaggerating when I say that without his experience and coolness under pressure, the role would have been so much more difficult for all of us. It was therefore a very proud honour for me to have the chance as Lord Mayor to present him with a Leeds Award in recognition of his outstanding civic service to the city.
“The contacts and people that John knew were legendary, and it was a great help to us at various engagements and also when it came to squeezing money out of people for the charity appeal!
“John has been a truly outstanding ambassador for the city of Leeds, and while we were of course very said to see him leave, we wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”
The Leeds Award is a prestigious honour that recognises that there are many people, groups, organisations and teams that bring great credit to the City through their exceptional hard work and dedication.
It has been established by Leeds City Council to formally recognise those whose outstanding contributions are a credit to the City and its people.
It is viewed as a lasting tribute to those contributions that make a real difference to the city.
Recipients of the Leeds Award will have their name inscribed on the ‘wall of fame’ located in the Ante Chamber of the Civic Hall.
A panel comprising of one Member from each Group is responsible for assessing nominations for the award and making recommendations to Full Council.
Criteria for granting the Award:
- Awarded to those who change the life or lives of the people of Leeds.
- For those who perform an exceptional service to their community
- A person/team/group/organisation may not nominate themselves and, where appropriate, letters of support in addition to the nomination may be required
- If an individual is nominated by a family member, another independentnomination or letter of support must be received
The Leeds Award is not for:
- Services that have their own recognition system
- Person who is in a leadership/chairing role by deed of appointment or election, e.g. Chair of a local Leeds in Bloom group who also have to be able to demonstrate a significant environmental improvement.