Mayor Bert sworn in

12-447      Bert Chapman is shortly to be the new Mayor of Dacorum.
12-447 Bert Chapman is shortly to be the new Mayor of Dacorum.

COUNCILLOR Bert Chapman was sworn in as Mayor of Dacorum last night – for the second time.

The great and the good turned out for the annual meeting of Dacorum Borough Council, where Gillian Chapman bowed out having raised £15,753 for Dacorum Emergency Night Shelter during her year of office.

Bert announced his charity for the year would be Iain Rennie Grove House Hospice Care.

He said: “We are so lucky to have Iain Rennie Grove House Hospice Care working in Dacorum. The nursing care is given when time is precious and quality of life is what really matters. To carry out the good work the charity has to raise ever-increasing funds. It is my intention to assist in any way possible.”

Councillor Penny Hearn will be deputy mayor.

Few politicians can boast of becoming figurehead of the borough and fewer still are asked to do so more than once, but Bert says he is honoured to wear the chain of office again.

“The opportunity came round and I said ‘yes’. I will do it again and hopefully we will have another enjoyable year,” he said before the ceremony.

“I like getting out amongst people and having a chat.”

Bert, from Liverpool and the son of a painter and decorator, has retained his distinctive accent despite moving down south in the 1960s, with the last 31 years spent in Markyate.

“We’ve got a terrific place where we live in Dacorum,” he said. “Where I come from is totally different. I appreciate how lovely it is and how blessed we are to have all this green space.”

Bert, 74, left school at 16 and joined the Norwegian merchant navy before doing National Service in the 1950s, where he met his wife Shirley. They were married in 1958 and have three children and five grandchildren. Before retiring early aged 59 he worked in sales and marketing for the confectionery and drinks industries.

Bert got into politics after becoming involved in the battle against 600 new homes in Markyate and was elected to Dacorum Borough Council as a Conservative in 1995, where he served as cabinet member for the environment for many years.

One lesson Bert has learned from his first stint as mayor in 2000 is to steer clear of game shows after he suffered an underwear malfunction on national TV while competing in a race. “Shirley hates it, my grandchildren love it,” he laughed.