Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside have enjoyed a busy year of key events and civic engagements during their time in office.
The Mayor, Councillor Pay Hay and Mayoress, Jean Copp took on the roles in May 2021 when the country was still subject to national covid restrictions.
However, as restrictions began to lift over the summer months, the Mayor and Mayoress set out to fulfil their promise of helping to lift people's spirits, celebrate the Borough's amazing civic pride and to thank and support organisations and businesses for their work to support local communities.
The Mayor and Mayoress have met hundreds of people who go the extra mile to make South Tyneside a great place. They have also continued to raise money for the Mayor's Charity - supporting The Customs House and Cancer Connections, among other good causes.
Some of the highlights in their first few months in office included visiting front line organisations, such as the police, ambulance and fire services, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty during the pandemic.
Key events began with a virtual Armed Forces Day celebration and a special online memorial service to remember Srebrenica.
The Mayor and Mayoress have also met some of the Borough's school children, shown their support for businesses emerging out of covid restrictions and seeing some of the Borough's groups and individuals awarded the coveted Queen's Awards, OBEs and British Empire Medals.
In a triple boost for South Tyneside, the Mayor and Mayoress had the great privilege to welcome royalty to the Borough.
As first citizen of South Tyneside, the Mayor greeted Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal when she visited the North East Ambulance Service station in Hebburn to hand out long service awards.
Her Royal Highness, The Countess of Wessex later visited to present a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service to NECA Community Garden and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales officially opened Barbour's new Wax for Life Workshop.
The Mayor said: "It was a real honour and an incredible experience to meet members of the Royal Family. It was also wonderful for South Tyneside to receive royalty on three separate occasions within such a short space of time."
As part of this year's Armistice and Remembrance commemorations, the Mayor and Mayoress launched the local Poppy Appeal and joined communities across South Tyneside for poignant services and special events held across the Borough.
They also joined mayors from around the region for a special Royal British Legion Centenary event at the Millennium Bridge in Newcastle/Gateshead, Remembrance commemorations at Saltwell Park in Gateshead as well as celebrated the 40th year of the Great North Run and pledged their support for Show Racism the Red Card campaign, to name a few.
In between official openings, such as the Bede Helping Hands Shop, Darling's newly refurbished pharmacy at Chichester and the new-look Asda South Shields store, the Mayor and Mayoress have continued to fundraise for the Mayor's Charity.
Charity evenings and curry nights have taken place as well as a Halloween-themed alternative tour the South Shields Town Hall - the first of its kind staged with generous support from local businesses and organisations.
The countdown to Christmas in South Tyneside also got off to a spectacular start when the Mayoress performed the official switching on of the Borough's Christmas lights in South Shields, Jarrow and Hebburn town centres. The festivities continued with the Virtual Christmas Carol Concert and the spectacular Christmas Wonderland Parade.
In the coming months, as and when restrictions allow, the Mayor and Mayoress will continue to carry out their civic duties, attending key events and engagements, as well as fundraising for the Mayor's Charity.
The Mayor said: "The Mayoress and I are having a fantastic time representing and serving the people of South Tyneside. We have really enjoyed connecting with our communities and it has been a real honour to meet so many wonderful, kind-hearted people.
"We look forward to many more key events and opportunities where we represent the Council in South Tyneside and beyond, meet and celebrate our communities and raise money for the Mayor's Charity. The money we collect for these organisations make a huge difference.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of the Borough and our amazing businesses and organisations for their support, kindness and generosity during our time in office and I'd like to wish all of our residents health and happiness as we head in 2022.
"No matter what challenges lie ahead of us all with this pandemic, I know that the residents of South Tyneside will help and support one another."