Martyn Bell - the co-founder of The Secret WW2 Learning Network - has just become the city's Mayor, and his wife Toom is the Mayoress.
Cllr Tony Dignum proposed to elect Cllr Martyn Bell as Mayor and was seconded by Cllr Clare Apel. Cllr Dignum said in his speech: “Mr Mayor, I am delighted to propose that Cllr Martyn Bell be our next mayor. I have known him all the 18 years I have lived in the city and count him as a good friend. But it is not because of friendship alone that I propose him. Martyn has contributed a great deal to the city over the years in many ways. “He is a great supporter of the arts and chairs the Oxmarket Gallery. He is an active student of history and has made many lectures locally on such subjects as the French Resistance. “He has been chairman of the Friends of Chartres and an organiser of annual commemorations of the Holocaust. He is a supporter of education and has been a governor of Chichester College. “He has given public service as a city councillor since 2011 and as a district councillor from 2011 to 2015. “Finally, as mayor, he would be fully supported as mayoress by his delightful wife, Toom.”
It was the first time in 183 years that a Mayor of Chichester had been instated at Priory Park Guildhall. Martyn Bell was made mayor last Wednesday, before the customary crowd of dignitaries, including the High Sheriff of West Sussex, former Mayors of Chichester and fellow councillors. The Mayor Making Ceremony has been held at the Assembly Rooms in North Street since 1835. It was relocated in honour of the centenary celebrations of Priory Park this coming year. In his acceptance speech, Mr Bell said it was ‘a great privilege’ to serve as mayor in a year of very special ‘100s’, including the end of the First World War and the birth of Leonard Bernstein, who wrote the Chichester Psalms. He said: “Prior to 1835 and certainly from 1541, when this former Friary Church became The Guildhall, the Mayor Making had always taken place here, so the Friends of Priory Park proposed it returned here just for this year as the first of the many splendid ‘Priory Park 100’ Centenary Events that the Friends are planning, to celebrate His Grace the Duke’s wonderful gift.” Mr Bell has named homelessness charity Stonepillow and the Oxmarket Centre of Arts as his two chosen charities of the year.