South Tyneside's first citizen works from home
South Tyneside's first citizen continues to rally support among the people of the Borough as he 'shields' in isolation.
Until recently, the Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Norman Dick, was working his way through his jam-packed diary of key events and civic duties. Since taking up the role in May 2019, the Mayor and his good friend, the Mayoress, Jean Williamson, have been out and about representing the Borough, meeting people within the community and raising money for the Mayor's Charity.
Now he is one of up to 1.5 million people across the UK to have been identified as being most at risk of serious illness if they contract coronavirus.
Due to underlying health conditions - having COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and suffering from ongoing heart problems and strokes - the Mayor is following the Government's protective advice to 'stay at home at all times and avoid face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks.'
The 71-year-old is now performing his Mayoral duties from his home in Simonside while drawing on his 'incredible' support network of friends and family, who have been getting his shopping in and making sure he has everything he needs.
As Mayor, he continues to rally community support including the Clap for our Carers campaign and will be urging people to take a moment in their own homes to reflect on important upcoming remembrance events including ANZAC Day, Workers' Memorial Day and VE Day.
The Mayor said: "The Mayoress and I have been having an amazing time - it's been extremely busy and a real honour to represent and serve South Tyneside. We have met so many wonderful, kind-hearted people who go the extra mile and make our Borough great.
"Although I'm home without any face-to-face contact, I'm determined to continue carrying out my Mayoral duties to the best of my ability, to help bring hope and positivity and support the wonderful people of our Borough through what is undoubtedly a dark and difficult time in our history.
"I'm in regular contact with the Mayoress and the Civic Office. I'm also very lucky to have my family close by. They keep checking in with me and making sure I'm ok."
The Mayor has also been using his down time at home to enjoy his greenhouse and find new ways to stay connected with loved ones.
"I have my greenhouse so I've been pottering around in there," he said. "I also have my computer and I've been using WhatsApp and video calling to stay in touch with family and friends and my colleagues at the Council - it's brilliant. It's really important to remain in contact with people."
The Government has acknowledged it has imposed stringent measures 'never seen before either in peace or war'.
The Mayor, a former miner and an ex-Army soldier, is committed to playing his part in helping to combat the pandemic. Having served ten years in the British Army, at home and abroad, he is well experienced in facing extremely challenging and difficult situations and knows only too well the need for everyone to come together and stand against the threat.
The great grandad-of-seven said: "This experience really is unlike anything else. The current climate has been compared to being like World War II, but at least people could go out then. This is completely unknown. It's a new, hidden danger and everyone needs to do their bit to help stop the spread of the virus.
"It is important that people follow the guidance in this national 'call to action' to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. We don't know when this will end and hope we won't ever have to face anything like it again."
The Mayor joined the Mayoress to gave thanks and appreciation to frontline NHS staff, carers, key workers and volunteers who are working tirelessly to support the most vulnerable and keep essential services running.
He said: "The Mayoress and I would like to thank all of the staff in the NHS and in the care sector, whose importance to defeat this virus cannot be understated. I have family who work in care and hospital settings, so I know only too well how dedicated and hard-working those in this profession are. They are fantastic.
"We also extend our gratitude to every single person who continues to help those who need it most. While we can't be physically active in the relief effort, we want everyone to know that we appreciate all the incredible work going on to keep essential services running. People have really pulled together across the whole community, doing their own job and that of others due to stretched resources. They do this without complaining and its incredible.
"We would also like to take this opportunity to wish the residents of South Tyneside well and thank them for their ongoing support during our year of office. It's certainly going to be a one that we won't ever forget. Stay safe everyone."