ALMOST 30 years after coming north to Sheffield, Sylvia Dunkley becomes its 115th Lord Mayor next Wednesday.
Over 12 months, the Liberal Democrat councillor will take the ceremonial chains of office to represent the city at a wide range of events – from visiting community groups, schools and factories to hosting distinguished visitors and generally promoting the name of Sheffield.
Coincidentally, she takes the position at a time that three other women are taking top roles in city civic life.
Julie Dore is the new leader of the city council as a result of Labour regaining control from the Liberal Democrats and, from the autumn, Suzanne Liversidge is to become the first female president of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, and her stepmother, Pam, is in line to become the first female Master Cutler.
Coun Dunkley has been deputy Lord Mayor for a year and will succeed Labour councillor Alan Law.
“It’s a great honour and I’m very excited,” she said. “I’m looking forward to meeting people and doing what I can to support Sheffield.”
Her husband, John, will be Lord Mayor’s consort.
They have a family business, Atomising Systems Ltd, in the Lower Don Valley. Managing director is son Simon. The Dunkleys’ daughter, Anna, is a freelance TV producer.
They came to Sheffield in 1982 after Davy McKee closed its research and development department in Bedford, and John took the offer of a move north. When the Sheffield division closed ten years later, he set up the family business.
Sylvia Dunkley was born in south London and trained as a bilingual secretary at the French Lycée in London, working as a personal assistant. On moving north, she won a place as a mature student reading history at Sheffield University, and went on to do a doctorate and to teach history and women’s studies at the university’s then Division of Continuing Education.
Her enthusiasm for the city’s cultural scene is reflected in her being a trustee of Sheffield Theatres, Museums Sheffield and the Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust and a council cabinet member for culture. She helped to secure the Freedom of the City for the Lindsay String Quartet and was the political impetus behind for the failed bid to be UK City of Culture in 2013. She sings with the Escafeld Chorale.
John is a jazz enthusiast and a member of the Sterndale Singers and Rotary, helping to organise Music in the Gardens in the Botanical Gardens.
Coun Dunkley, who lives in Millhouses, aims to help further develop Sheffield’s reputation for culture and creativity.
She has been a councillor for Ecclesall since 1995. Her election as Lord Mayor is unaffected by the elections, which resulted in Julie Dore leading a Labour council.
Meanwhile, Suzanne Liversidge, who is senior partner in the Sheffield office of international law firm Kennedys and won the local Businesswoman of the Year for two consecutive years, is preparing to head Sheffield Chamber of Commerce.
Pam Liversidge was the first female president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and is now in line to become the first female Master Cutler, a position held by her husband, Doug, in the late 1990s.
lThe Deputy Lord Mayor from Wednesday will Labour councillor and trade union leader John Campbell, who was re-elected for Richmond ward last week. He will become Lord Mayor in May 2012.