THE second oldest mayoralty in England has seen hundreds of similar ceremonies – but none quite like this.

Cllr Patrick Cunningham has become the 821st Mayor of Winchester during the city council's annual meeting, which was held online earlier this evening.

From the comfort of their own homes, councillors joined a video call which saw Cllr Cunningham sign the declaration.

He then gave a speech from the Mayor's chair, which had to be sanitised during a five minute adjournment before he sat on it.

"In these unique circumstances, I wish to thank my fellow councillors for the trust they place in me and the support they have given," he said.

"This is quite the humbling experience and I am ready to embrace the challenge.

"Since the lockdown began I have learnt a lot. It is not just important to focus on economic values, but also the worth of community; to show pride and allow people a sense of belonging.

"During these difficult times I have been inspired by the community spirit – the desire to help each other.

"I thank each and every health worker, frontline worker, volunteer and the thousands of key workers who are helping the nation through."

Cllr Cunningham, born in Dublin, had a long career in the hospitality industry before retiring in 2014.

He first moved to the Winchester district with his wife Joy in 1985, becoming the general manager of the Wessex Hotel in Colebrook Street.

They have three children together – all of whom were born at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital.

Cllr Stephen Godfrey, proposer of the new Mayor, said: "Patrick has taken on important roles throughout his career which will certainly help him represent the people of Winchester, help businesses and steer the community through these interesting times."

The Mayor's Charities for the year have been chosen as: Winchester Young Carers, Home-Start Winchester and Youth Options.

Last year Cllr Cunningham served as Deputy Mayor – a position which has been filled by Cllr Vivian Achwal. She was unanimously elected at the meeting.

Referring to the retiring Mayor Cllr Eleanor Bell, Cllr Therese Evans said: "Every Mayor brings their own star to the position.

"You have shown a drive for conscientiousness, hard work and commitment throughout, and have been an excellent ambassador over the year."

These city councillors have also been named as the chairman for the following committees: 

Scrutiny – Cllr Brook

Audit and Gov – Cllr Power

Licensing and Reg – Cllr Bentote

Planning – Cllr Evans

Business and Housing – Cllr Weir

Heath and Environment – Cllr Clear

Licensing Sub Committee Chairs – Cllr Green, Cllr Laming, Cllr Mather, Cllr Read