For those outside Otley, who don’t know me, I am Pamela Gill and I am currently Otley’s Town Mayor. I have lived and worked in Otley all my life. I am the second generation of my family to have lived in the town and I am married to Raymond (who has also acted as my Consort). I have two grown up children and two grandchildren.
Like so many others, I was inspired to come into politics by my family background and experience. I came from a Labour household – my father was a party member who worked in engineering in Otley. My family on my mother’s side were from a mining background in the North East. Perhaps more than anything else, it was the Thatcher Tory government and its decimation of communities that led me as a women to get into politics.
Otley still has a town council, unlike most small towns, and a mayor. I became Mayor on 13th May 2013 and my term will run until 12th May this year. I have had numerous engagements like opening Otley Carnival, Otley Cycle Race and the Victorian Fayre to name just a few. I have also opened shops and offices, as well as being invited by other mayors from Morley, Ilkley and Keighley. I have visited various Otley schools and have attended other events also.
As mayor I’ve had the opportunity to take up and support particular charities. The ones I chose were Otley Action for Older People, Behind Closed Doors and the Salvation Army. All of them have strong Otley connections. All of them do the kind of work I especially admire.
Otley Action for Older People work to help older people in Otley, Pool and Arthington. They host three lunch clubs as well as exercise classes, organise trips and escorted holidays. They also help clients fill out forms for things like benefits.
Behind Closed Doors help both men and women get out of abusive relationships and try and get their lives on track. This was a charity which started in Otley, but now covers North Leeds. It offers community based outreach services, providing practical and emotional support, advocacy and information – and I admire the way it does this for all victims of domestic abuse, women, men and children
The Salvation Army are always there for people in trouble and host in Otley a lunch club, have coffee mornings and open their doors on Christmas Day so single elderly people don’t have to spend Christmas Day on their own. For those who can’t attend they also offer to take Christmas lunches to people’s homes.
I have met such nice people in Otley in connection with my charities. It has been a privilege to have been Otley Town Mayor as a women, to be the first citizen and to serve the people of Otley.
It is these ideas of service, community and a readiness to help those in need which have always inspired my Labour politics and which I hope I have carried over into my time as mayor.
Pam is Otley’s Town mayor, and a Labour Councillor for Manor Ward. She helped found Otley Action for Older People.
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