Skatepark priority for new mayor of Downham Market

The new mayor of Downham Market is hoping the opening of a new skatepark in the town will be on her list of civic duties.

Val Starling, who has been a town councillor for six years, was appointed the town's mayor on Tuesday evening and cannot wait to start her civic role.

Mrs Starling is also chairman of the town's skatepark working party, which is working hard to obtain a grant to build a skatepark close to the Howdale Community Centre.

She said: 'I am really looking forward to the year ahead, serving on the town council.

'I joined the town council six years ago because of a lack of youth facilities in the town, so I am really hoping the skatepark plan will come to fruition during my mayoral year.'

Mrs Starling has taken over mayoral duties from John Fox.

Mr Fox, who has been a town councillor for 12 years, said: 'I had avoided becoming mayor for a number of years, but I am glad I took it up when I did. It has been amazing.

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'Both my wife Margaret and I have done some amazing things over the last year and met some great people.

'It is hard for me to pick a highlight of my year as mayor but the last two events will be right up there and have ensured I have gone out on a high.

'I attended a birthday meal for Prince Philip at King's Lynn Town Hall, which was brilliant, and attended RAF Marham's XIII Squadron's final parade before it disbands. Both Margaret and I also thoroughly enjoyed being a guest of a variety of organisations within the town. We have lived in Downham Market all our lives but we both found out things about the town we never knew.'

Mr Fox also praised town clerk Jean Markwell and deputy town clerk Sara Porter at the town council for their 'excellent support'.

He continued: 'I was careful throughout the year to involve Val, as deputy mayor. If there was a decision to be taken, we discussed it and I kept her in touch with what's going on and I hope that has helped her.

'When I couldn't make events, Val and her husband Ray would go along so they have already made a lot of contacts and I wish them all the best over the coming year.'

Mrs Starling's second-in-command for the year will be Robin Pegg. He said: 'Both myself and my wife Jill are really looking forward to the upcoming year and can't wait to get going.

'It is a great privilege to deputy mayor. It is going to be a great way of finding out more about the town and a great experience for my wife because she has MS and is in a wheelchair.

'It will make a big difference to her life to be able to get about and meet new people.'

david.blackmore@archant.co.uk