Sheffield’s new Lord Mayor will be sworn in next week - and one of his missions is to help raise the profile of volunteers across the city.
Peter Rippon becomes Sheffield’s number one citizen at a ceremony at the town hall on Wednesday.
His selection comes with a couple of twists. Among family watching the ceremony will be one of his three sons, Tim, who is also a Labour councillor. In addition to the family connection, Peter will be Lord Mayor for a shorter period than usual.
Chosen by the ruling Labour group, he will have the role for 50 weeks instead of 52 as a result of local elections and the subsequent annual council meeting, which elects the Lord Mayor, being delayed because of the European elections.
Then again, Peter can only become the city’s figurehead as a result of winning last week’s election for Shiregreen and Brightside – when the Labour majority was cut to only 244 by UKIP.
If he had lost, Burngreave Labour councillor Talib Hussain would have taken over. He is now confirmed at deputy Lord Mayor, becoming Lord Mayor in 2015/16.
So Peter Rippon becomes Lord Mayor and his wife, Susan, Lady Mayoress. They have been married for 52 years.
Also at the ceremony will be their other sons, Simon, a consultant helping people with dementia, and Liam, tour manager with the rock band Kaiser Chiefs and formerly with Pulp (he was in Los Angeles this week with Jarvis Cocker), and daughter Sarah, who works for Sheffield Citizens Advice and Food Aid. Seven grandchildren will be in the party. Lord Mayors have a theme of office – and Peter, aged 71, has chosen community engagement, highlighting the work of volunteers across the city.
“There are a lot of people in Sheffield who beaver away week after week doing voluntary work,” he said.
“We want to recognise some of those groups and encourage more and more people to get involved with the local and wider community.”
Peter has been a Labour city councillor since 2003, first elected for the former Nethershire ward. Before that he was on Ecclesfield Parish Council.
For nearly 28 years, he combined his politics with a job as a welfare rights officer in Mansfield, helping people with learning disabilities towards independence and travelling daily from his home in Ecclesfield. “I wore a groove in the M1!”
Now he will be Sheffield’s 118th Lord Mayor, attending a wide range of engagements, from delivering 100th birthday greetings and visiting community groups to hosting delegations and chairing council meetings.
The first weekend will see him at the Broomhill Festival, then he has a date at The Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace.
“It’s a great honour to be asked to represent the city,” he said.