Wigan's retiring mayor reflects on an action-packed year in office
It’s been a busy 12 months for Coun Marie Morgan, with the Platinum Jubilee, Women’s Euros, the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the Rugby League World Cup and the coronation of King Charles III, all taking place during her term.
Despite the sometimes hectic nature to the schedule Coun Morgan, who represents the Winstanley ward on the council, has thoroughly enjoyed her time as the first citizen.
She said: “It’s been a real honour and a privilege to be the first citizen in the Wigan borough.
"It has been a fantastic experience.
"We hit the ground running with one of the first things being the Freedom of the Borough with the Duke of Lancaster regiment which was something that was quite close to me as my husband was in the army.
"Then we had the Platinum Jubilee which was a weekend of amazing events.
"There were some civic duties like church services but a lot of it was the people of the borough putting on celebrations.
"It started off a fabulous year.”
Coun Morgan says the most enjoyable part of her role was going around the borough meeting and interacting with people.
She has even had occasions where she has brushed shoulders with royalty both here in Wigan, as well as being invited to the royal garden party for the King’s coronation.
The councillor said: “Its been a fantastic year of a mixture of everything really
“It helps that we live in an amazing borough.
"To go out there and meet the people and the volunteers who do such great work with the communities.
"The actual major events have been spectacular and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything, Clive has as well.
"The most important part of the year has been being able to go out and meet the people of our borough.
"I’ve met the Princess of Wales at the Rugby League World Cup and that was just surreal.
"I was also invited to the royal garden party which was really good.
"It was really busy, there were 8,000 people there and the royals that attended were Edward and Sophie, Kate and William and Princess Anne.
"We didn’t get to speak to them (the royals) but we were chatting with other people about why they were there and their experiences.
"The atmosphere was electric.
"They held a service outside Buckingham Palace and played the national anthem and then the royals formed a procession and spoke to people.
"We were a bit too far back but I managed to get my camera up and take some photos!”
There hasn’t been any aspects that Coun Morgan hasn’t enjoyed about her role and has taken everything that has come her way in her stride. She believes advice given to her by a previous mayor has helped her when taking on the role.
One of her final acts as mayor will be unveiling a van for Daffodils Dreams which is the Mayor’s Charity.
It is something that Coun Morgan didn’t think she would get to see happen during her year in office.
She said: “I have been a little bit nervous some times, I mean full council is full council; you just have to take a deep breath and go out there as its part and parcel of the role.
"I think I’ve done OK in them.
"I wouldn’t say there isn’t anything that I’ve not enjoyed. There are some things where I’ve been a bit more out of my comfort zone than others, or when I have to give a speech to lots of people.
"Its because you want to do a really good job and I’ve give it my best shot.
"Sometimes you don’t know what you can do until you have to do it.
"Coun Steve Dawber told me to always be prepared for everything and even if they say no speech is required, put a speech together.
"For the Mayor’s Charity Daffodils Dreams we’ve managed to raise enough funds to get them a van.
"It was purchased a few weeks ago and we’ve been trying to get the two logos on the van which has taken a bit of time because the resolution has to be just right.
"I thought ‘it’s not going to happen’ but we’ve managed to just squeeze it in.
"I really pleased we’ve achieved what we aimed to do because they needed transport to be able collect donations and pick people up and bring them to the boutique that they’ve got by Go Outdoors.”
Coun Morgan will be handing over the mayoral chain to Coun Kevin Anderson with Coun Debbie Parkinson stepping into the role of Deputy Mayor.
Coun Morgan has also offered some words of wisdom to the pair.
She said: “Enjoy every minute of it and always plan a speech!
"Embrace everything because you’ll be surprised: it’s very humbling.
"At the end of the day, I’m just Marie, I’m a councillor.
"But when you put the chains on, it doesn’t change the person you are but it changes your persona and how people see you. They’re so pleased to see you.
"This is such an honour to go around all the different parts of the borough and meet people and they are all so respectful of the office as well.
"You’ve got great support from the democratic services team.
"Take the support that’s offered and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
"Its an historic year and Clive and I have been very fortunate to play a big part in it,. We’ve been really lucky.”