Tragedy year ends for new mayor Christine

An emotional night at Preston Town Hall saw a new mayor take over the historic chains.

Coun Christine Abram, leader of the Liberal Democrats, gave a passionate speech as she took up the role held by Bill Tyson.

The mother-of-two will be accompanied during her mayoral year by husband and consort Norman, a retired detective sergeant, and youngest daughter Ruth as mayoress.

During a lengthy speech in the packed-out council chamber last night, Coun Abram said she was looking forward to the start of a "new year."

2007 began with tragedy for the Abram's with the death of Ruth's partner, Stuart Cave, 33, while the family were holidaying in Tenerife.

Coun Abram who represents the Lea ward, said: "After the traumatic start to this year you realised that life is very fragile and that you should treat every day and everyone with care.

"You do not know what tomorrow will bring, or even if tomorrow will come, so treat others as you wish to be treated yourself.

"I must say thank you to my fellow councillors, each and every one, for allowing me the opportunity of representing this city as the first citizen and mayor of Preston.

"It is both an honour and privilege which brings with it special responsibility to promote this city and its people."

But her appointment wasn't without controversy with talk of Labour councillors not supporting the new mayor and a deal being struck with the Tories to ensure it went ahead.

Coun Abram, who joined the council in 1999, said: "I am a strong-minded person who speaks directly and honestly – not always what other councillors appreciate.

"My first duty is the people who voted me in and who I represent and it always will be.

"I am referred to as high profile – if that means sticking your head above the parapet and getting shot at, then that is me.

"This year, I want to represent my city and its people as best I can and with true feeling."

Coun Abram, who worked at the University of Central Lancashire for 12 years, plans to use her stint as the city's first citizen to support two charities, Preston Women's Refuge and Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).

Her family was made aware or the vital work of CRY following Stuart's death on New Year's Eve.