THERE have been 821 mayors of Winchester but the 822nd will be the first from Whiteley.

Vivian Achwal's elevation to the senior role was ratified this evening at a full Council meeting in River Park Leisure Centre.

Cllr Achwal has represented the Whiteley ward, now called Whiteley and Shedfield, since 2008.

She married her husband Sudhakar, a chemical engineer, in 1980 and they lived in India and Saudi Arabia for some 16 years where she worked in teaching. They have a daughter.

Returning to the UK in 1997 the Achwals moved to Whiteley and she got involved in community activities and worked as a teaching assistant at Whiteley Primary School and also for three years as the school lollipop lady.

Proposing her, former mayor Therese Evans said: "Vivian is the most kind-hearted and helpful person. If there is something that needs action she will take it on. With Vivian what you see is what you get. She is an unassuming, positive person unfazed by obstacles."

After her election was unanimously agreed by councillors there was a musical interlude, a recording by Year 6 pupils at Whiteley Primary School.

In a pre-recorded speech Cllr Achwal said she was honoured to be elected mayor and said the theme of her fund-raising would be families, children and young people with mental health problems.

Her chosen charities are: Friends of the Family, founded in Winchester in 1993, with the aim to support and guide families; Winchester Youth Counselling, set up in 2003, and has helped 2,000 young people; and the Eight Foundation, set up in Whiteley in 2017.

Tributes were paid to retiring mayor Patrick Cunningham, the first of the 821 Winchester mayors to serve amid a Covid pandemic.

Cllr Cunningham said it had the biggest honour of his life to have been mayor and the first Irishman in the role.

He said it had been a mayoralty amid Zoom and Teams and one of the things he would remember most is the refrain: "You are still muted."

Cllr Achwal was elected at a virtual meeting on Tuesday with the decision ratified 24 hours later this evening. Usually the election and ratification is done in one meeting.
A council spokeswoman said it was to ensure both were Covid-secure.

Cllr Derek Green, who represents Stanmore for the Liberal Democrats, was elected deputy mayor to step up to the mayoralty for the 2022-23 civic year.

Meanwhile, changes have been made to the Cabinet controlled by the Lib Dems, with the number of portfolios being reduced from eight to seven.

Council leader Lucille Thompson paid tribute to departing Cllrs Malcolm Prince (sport and leisure portfolio) Paula Ferguson (local economy) and Jackie Porter (built environment).

Cllr Martin Tod will take over the economy role, Angela Clear will cover communities and well-being and Russell Gordon-Smith the built environment