Who has become the new Lord Mayor and Sheriff of Norwich?
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019
From the self-styled 'fastest binman in Yorkshire' to the new Lord Mayor of Norwich - it has been quite a journey for Vaughan Thomas.
Having worked in a variety of careers, Mr Thomas, sworn in as mayor today, said he wants to use his civic year to highlight the 'unsung heroes' of the city.
At a time when some people are finding it hard to get by, he says it has never been more important to shine a spotlight on those who make the city tick
Born near Nottingham, Mile Cross Labour councillor Mr Thomas moved to Norwich with his wife - fellow Labour city councillor Vivien Thomas, to whom he has been married for 43 years - and their family in 2007.
The father-of-five, who has been a city councillor since 2015, has had a varied career.
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He worked as a labourer in Sunderland and trained to be a police officer, before deciding that was not the career for him.
While studying for a degree in philosophy and social policy at York University, he had a stint as a bin collector, joking to council leader Alan Waters that he was 'the fastest binman in Yorkshire'.
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He also worked as a porter, company manager and business owner before finding his passion as a welfare rights worker for Citizens Advice, representing people at tribunals.
As well as workers' rights, Mr Thomas is passionate about education and environmental issues.
He is an active trade unionist and advocates for school support staff across Norfolk.
Mr Thomas said: "Norwich is a very special place. I want to use this year to thank, highlight and support the people who make this city the fine place it is.
"Over this coming civic year, I will be highlighting the contributions that these unsung heroes make.
"Work that is all too often overlooked or taken for granted - shop assistants, care assistants, bin collectors, school support staff, front line council officers, police officers, paramedics, firefighters and the volunteers who give their time freely to help others.
"I feel strongly that now, more than ever, we need to shine a spotlight on the people of this city whose lives are increasingly a million miles away from the grandeur and splendour of the Lord Mayor's parlour.
"While respecting and upholding the dignity, independence and non-political or partisan nature of this ancient role, I will, however, be a campaigning Lord Mayor."
As well as Mr Thomas succeeding Green Martin Schmierer as Lord Mayor, the mayor-making ceremony at City Hall also saw a new Sheriff sworn in.
Succeeding Ros Brown as Sheriff of Norwich is educational psychologist Dr Marian Prinsley, a past president of the Norwich Hebrew Congregation.
As part of this role, she helped raise funds to develop the Norwich Jewish Community Centre, enabling it to be used by the wider population, and the many thousands of school children who visit the synagogue in Earlham Road to learn about Judaism.
She is passionate about interfaith understanding and was part of the all-faith group which met the Archbishop of Canterbury last year.
Dr Prinsley and her husband Peter have raised and educated their three children in the city.
She said: "I am astonished, but completely delighted to be chosen to represent Norwich, the city I love, as Sheriff."
This year's civic charity is a partnership of advice organisations headed by Citizens Advice.
The meeting also saw Alan Waters re-elected as leader of Labour-controlled Norwich City Council.