Meet the new Sheriff

May 24, 2017 8:48 PM

Sheriff Cllr David DownCongratulations to Cllr David Down, Liberal Democrat councillor for Parklands Ward, today elected Sheriff and Deputy Lord Mayor of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Cllr David Down was born in Portsmouth and started his service in local government in 1965 when he joined the Engineer's and Surveyor's Department as a junior clerk, at £365 a year - a pound a day, less tax!

Before he left Portsmouth 10 years later, he had held administrative positions in the city's Town Clerk's and Environmental Health Departments.

A sabbatical year working with Initiatives of Change, an international charity dedicated to peacebuilding and reconciliation, actually lasted 20 years.

During that time he met and married Barbara, who had been a student at High Heaton School before moving to London, to study nursing. In 1994, while they were raising their two boys, Chris and Andy, and working at the charity's conference centre in Cheshire, they were invited to move to Newcastle to join Barbara's parents, Rex and Betty Gray, and family friends and community leaders, Hari and Ranju Shukla.

The Shuklas and Barbara's parents worked closely together in community development and inter-faith and race relations. David first met them at the Cheshire conference centre in the 1970s and again, when attending a community conference in Newcastle, back in the 1980s.

He immediately fell in love with the city, especially when he was able to see United beat Chelsea during the week-end of that conference! And let's hope that he'll be able to see the same again next season.

In 1999, David was proud to be elected city councillor for Castle ward. Then, in 2004, he was elected to represent Woolsington ward, and he now represents Parklands ward. And while he may usually be a quiet man in the Chamber, he is an assiduous worker raising his voice for his constituents.

It's often said that Parklands is a ward that's easier to represent. It may appear easier than some but it is because for over 42 years its councillors, past and present, have worked hard every day for local people. They have many of the same problems as other wards, and deserve the same determined representation.

David is in the vanguard of such action. He can't even relax on the bus to and from the Civic - he's looking out of the window, photographing overflowing waste bins and reporting them to Envirocall.

He's an assiduous attender at Church and community coffee mornings, but his figure doesn't reflect all the home baking he consumes at them, because he plays tennis regularly at Brunton Park.

David says that moving to Newcastle was the best thing he could have done. His heart is here. He loves Newcastle and its people and would be honoured to be Sheriff and Deputy Lord Mayor and being given the privilege of undertaking the community and civic duties of the office.

He says that being Sheriff will provide him with the best opportunity to meet more Geordies, enjoy their company, celebrate their achievements, hear their aspirations for today and the future and when the opportunities arise, welcome visitors to our great city of Newcastle and promote all that it has to offer.