Mark Willis reflects on a year as Mayor

Mark Willis and his family at his son's passing out ceremony for the Royal Navy
Mark Willis and his family at his son's passing out ceremony for the Royal Navy

Mark reflects on a 'special year', where he attended over 150 engagements, on top of his full time job as a tube driver on the Metropolitan Line.

Mark Willis has been an elected town Councillor since 2004, and moved to Aylesbury in 2000.

Mark Willis commemorating the fallen with a poppy wreath

Mark Willis commemorating the fallen with a poppy wreath

The Town Mayor is elected in a vote from other councillors, as running a vote every year would be prohibitive cost wise to the taxpayer purse.

It's a role however, Mark was reluctant to put his name forward for initially, despite encouragement from fellow councillors.

"Initially I was quite apprehensive, and was unsure of what the role would entail but after a bit of research I thought It would be a good chance to push causes that are close to my heart.

"It was also a role I could make my own, in my own image. This is what convinced me to take up the role, and I have absolutely no regrets. It's the best job I've ever, ever had."

A portrait by Peter Keegan, who is taking part in Bucks Art Weeks with a exhibitiobn at Claydon Estate

A portrait by Peter Keegan, who is taking part in Bucks Art Weeks with a exhibitiobn at Claydon Estate

Marks tenure with the chains has focused on health and fitness, and highlighting the amazing community groups Aylesbury has and the people who make the town who they are.

"I am a type two diabetic, like many people in the UK. Health and fitness is a hugely important part of our lives, and one of things that helped me stay in control of the condition is the Aylesbury parkrun and regular excercise.

Mark also set up the Mayoral challenge, inviting runners to take on 32 miles over 13 weeks - the length of the Aylesbury Ring. It was a virtual challenge that encouraged people to incorporate it into their daily fitness regimes to raise funds for the Mayor's charity, Carers Bucks.

Several hundred people took part in the event, raising vital funds for charity.

Mark also ran the London Marathon for Carers Bucks last year, raising £2767.

"What amazed me most about the role is the committed, dedicated campaigners and community groups we have on our doorstep here in town. Be it the wheelpower community, the Hospice group, the morris dancers, the young carers, I could go on and on.

"It's really opened my eyes to what's going on in the town, and bought home the kindness of people. There are some wonderful people in the area.

"I've learned a lot about Aylesbury as a place and I have to say, have been blown away by the philanthropy of others."

Mark said one of his proudest moments as Mayor was seeing his son's passing out ceremony in Cornwall aboard the HMS Raleigh. Mark and the family went down to the ceremony and discovered that his son had also recieved the Royal Naval Association Trophy, awarded to the trainee who displayed a noteworthy sense of humour and positive contribution to team spirit.

"It was a massive honour to be Mayor for the centenary of the signing of the armistice ending WW1, seeing the parade through the town of young and old, and having the opportunity to travel to Flanders and see the landscape of loss, covered in the white headstones made me appreciate the sacrifice of those serving in our armed forces, particularly poignant as our son is now serving."

And finally, Mark has some advice to the next man in to the job, councillor Mike Smith.

He said: "Do it your way. Use it as a vehicle to express who you are, and what you care about. Do it in your own style, don't try and live up to an ideal of being mayor, don't try and copy anybody else because people voted for you!

"It's the best job I've ever had. Hands down. To be so involved in such a vibrant and interesting community, I've absolutely loved every second of it. Even when I've got back from work tired and unmotivated, going out to see people and hearing their stories has always, always put a massive smile on my face.

"It's something I will never forget."

Mark would also like to extend his wholehearted thanks to Staff at the London Underground and the metropolitan line staff who made balancing his commitments very easy.