Cllr Brian Cowie was celebrated as Hartlepool Borough Council’s new ceremonial mayor for 2022/23 at a special meeting.
After being elected into office at the council’s annual meeting, he officially wore the borough’s red robes for the first time at the mayoral investiture ceremony.
The Conservative councillor in the Headland and Harbour ward signed his declaration for the role, watched on by councillors, residents and civic guests.
The ceremony also saw his Conservative colleague Cllr Dennis Loynes welcomed in as deputy ceremonial mayor for the coming year.
Cllr Cowie, who arrived in Hartlepool in 1962, said he was “humbled and honoured” to take up the role, especially in the year of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
He said: “As our country begins to recover from the effects of the two year pandemic, I feel that it is important that we all strive together to repair the damage that this pandemic has caused.
“I am extremely positive about the future and everyone will agree that the local community will always be at the heart of everything that we do.
“I’m really looking forward to the next year as things look forward in Hartlepool and I will continue to work with all councillors to achieve the very best for our town and the people in it.”
He added he will have an “open door policy” to welcome ideas from all councillors and officers, while also highlighting how education is crucial.
He said: “A top priority for this council will be to focus on the future of our town’s young people, with education I believe key.
“Young people are our future and I will continue to support schools in every way I can to drive up standards and ensure children get the best start in life.”
His chosen charities, which he will be fundraising for over the next year, are Alice House Hospice and Miles for Men & Walk For Women.
Cllr Cowie, who additionally takes up the role of chair of council, paid tribute to Brenda Loynes, the previous ceremonial mayor of Hartlepool, who passed away earlier this year after a long and brave fight against cancer.
Councillors also praised her husband, incoming deputy mayor Cllr Dennis Loynes, with Cllr Mike Young stating Brenda would be “incredibly proud”.