The new mayor of Belper says he intends to use his time in the top job to emphasise the strength of the town’s community spirit.
Gary Spendlove, who has been the deputy mayor for the last year, was inaugurated at a ceremony last week at which around 60 people from the local community were present.
Over the next year, he says he wants to encourage people in the town to work together to enhance the lives of people in the area.
He said: “I have enjoyed my year as deputy mayor but there is much more to do and we can never take the town for granted.
“I have been active in the local Scout organisation, in local cricket teams and in the church as well so I have quite a bit of experience in voluntary and community work.
“When you are mayor then you can help somebody’s fundraising efforts simply by tuning up so I hope to do quite a bit of that in order to help people within the community.”
In his day job Gary runs the long-standing Belper ladies nightwear and lingerie business, Slenderella on Queen Street.
He is proud of his 43 years in the textile trade - including 41 as an exporter - and thinks his business acumen can be a real asset in promoting other firms in the town.
He says: “As the owner of a successful firm in the town I am hoping to use the role to promote the business aspect of the town.
“There are some very strong businesses in Belper and we are blessed with a fantastic variety of independent stores.”
As to whether his role at his business will interfere with his mayoral responsibilities he is confident that he can manage the dual role.
“My son will be taking the reins at the business for a while so during my time as mayor that will definitely be the priority,” he says.
When asked to talk about Belper he is as passionate and proud of the place as everyone else you meet and says that the awards it has won for Britain in Bloom and the Great British High Street are ‘great’ for the town.
A keen sportsman himself, Gary is also keen on using the town’s successful teams in an ambassadorial role.
“If they do well it reflects on the town well,” he says.
Finally, he says he will be encouraging local groups of all kinds to take advantage of the legacy fund Herbert Strutt left as a lump sum to the town, the interest on which was to be used ‘for the good of the town’.
“It will be the place to be...”
One of the first events on the horizon for Gary is the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations which he says will ‘paint the town red, white and blue’.
“We have a celebration dinner at the football club where we are expecting around a hundred people,” he says.
“On Saturday we have walks planned around the town showing the historical sites and on the Sunday we have something in the memorial gardens for children in the afternoon and then a musical event from five onwards in the evening.
“There is going to be so many things happening - a lots of things are there already but there will be more stuff going up in the next few weeks like bunting and other decorations,” he adds.
“We are expecting quite good numbers and it should be a great day.
“Belper will definitely be the place to be.”