When Malise Graham first became a borough councillor 32 years ago he admits he was ‘nervous and terrified’ and never dreamed of becoming Mayor of Melton.
But last night (Thursday), the newly re-elected member for Wymondham received the chains of office for the top civic role for the second time in his long career in local government.
Councillor Graham (70) expects the job to be a lot different from the last time he was Mayor, which was for the year 1993-94
He told the Melton Times: “It was a bigger role back then and you had more support in terms of finances.
“But we live in an age of austerity now and there is less money available.
“It remains a very important role, though, and I am looking forward to getting out to meet people because there is so much that is good about the borough and the people who live here.”
The ruling Conservative group needed to find a new candidate for Mayor after last year’s deputy - the Mayor-elect - Tom Greenow, decided not to stand again at the local elections earlier this month.
Councillor Graham volunteered his services and he was formally elected at last night’s full council meeting, with Councillor Peter Faulkner as his deputy.
He has enjoyed an eventful time on the council, spending 14 years on and off as leader including the challenging times when the old Nottingham Road offices burned down 11 years ago and the authority relocated to new premises off Burton Street.
“I remember when I was first elected in 1987 being nervous and knowing absolutely nothing about the council and how it worked,” recalled Councillor Graham.
“I was terrified but I was helped by lots of kind people and I still enjoy the work today.
“Certainly back then I never thought I would ever be Mayor once, let alone twice.”
Councillor Graham is devoted to wife Pamela (68), their four daughters and four granchildren.
The couple met while they were living on the same street in Cumberland and her father just happened to be Willie Whitelaw, who was both Home Secretary and deputy leader of the Tories during the time when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister.
Although they were both Conservatives, Councillor Graham says he did not always agree with the political views of his famous father-in-law.
The Grahams, who used to run a factory at Market Overton making outdoor furniture, are going to France in July to commemorate the Second World War service of both of their fathers in the tank battalion.
Councillor Graham has adopted Rainbows Hospice - which provides care and support to Leicestershire children with life-limiting illnesses and their families - as his official charity, as he did when he was first Mayor 26 years ago.
“Back then Rainbows was just an idea on a drawing board and now it is such an important charity for the children and the families it helps,” he said.
“Pamela did a parachute jump with my eldest daughter, Arabella, when I was last Mayor and she has asked if she will have to do it again to raise money but I couldn’t ask her to.”
Councillor Graham, who lives at Sproxton, has one regret about his year in office - he will be unable to lay a wreath on Remembrance Sunday at the annual Melton service because he will be at his godson’s wedding. Councillor Faulkner will deputise on the day.
One of his aims will be to nuture better personal relationships between council officers and staff and the councillors who serve the borough.
“In these days of sending emails it would be nice more often to see the face behind the email,” he added.
“I’m going to see what we can do to get people together more often.
“I’m looking forward to the year ahead and I think its very important to have fun in the role and enjoy it.”