A NEWLY-APPOINTED ceremonial mayor who was a soldier for two decades posted at several dangerous war zones is using his new role to help injured ex-servicemen and women.
Councillor John Hardy has been named the new Mayor of Peterlee.
The 63-year-old, of the town’s Nesbit Road, has pledged to use his year in office to raise money for the Help For Heroes charity, among others.
Mayor Hardy, who took over the mayoral chains from his predecessor, Coun Lillian Wood, served as a soldier with the Royal Engineers in the 1960s and 1970s.
He was stationed in countries including Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Africa and Germany and said he witnessed some harrowing sights in his time.
Coun Hardy said: “I was in Northern Ireland around the time of Bloody Sunday.
“I have seen enough action to last me a lifetime.”
Fourteen people died during Bloody Sunday, on January 30, 1972, following a Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march.
Coun Hardy spent 15 months in the country during the troubles.
He later lived in Africa as a civilian and is an electrician by trade.
He said: “Help For Heroes is a good cause.
“I think now Armed Forces people are just getting the recognition that they deserve. For a long time they were forgotten about.
“But now, it seems the world has woken up to the fact they are doing a fantastic job.
“They deserve all the help and all the praise they can get.”
As well as hoping to raise as much money as possible with forthcoming events for the cause, he will also plough charity cash into other organisations, including Hartlepool and District Hospice.
He said the Wells Avenue-based facility cared for a good friend of his.
Coun Hardy will also raise funds for the Peterlee branch of Macmillan Cancer Support.
The former chair of governors for Peterlee’s Dene Community School of Technology and current chairman of Peterlee Youth Centre said he was looking forward to his year as mayor.
He added: “I’m immensely proud to be able to serve our community.
“I would like to thank my council colleagues for giving me the opportunity to serve Peterlee and raise money for charitable causes.”
Coun Hardy praised previous mayor, Coun Wood, to whom he was deputy mayor, saying the knowledge and advice she passed on was invaluable.