Mayor Janet Jefferson: Janet's heartfelt pride for the community

SCARBOROUGH's mayor, Cllr Janet Jefferson, has always been passionate about the town. Her role as mayor has made her a familiar face at many local events, but her commitment to Scarborough has been a long-standing affair.

"TO be mayor of Scarborough is a dream

come true," smiles Janet Jefferson.

"I'm a community person really and joined

the council with a desire to help people. It's a

great honour to be mayor – but it did take some

sinking in!"

Janet was born in York but one of her

earliest memories was of a trip to

Scarborough. She said: "I remember my dad

pushing me in a pram along the Foreshore. I

can also remember running into the sea with

all my clothes on, I was so keen to get into the

sea. Scarborough has been my life longer than

York has in a way."

Janet used to come to the town on family

holidays with her parents and brothers John,

David and Robin, who sadly died in 1993. She

even decided to spend her honeymoon in

Scarborough after marrying Geoff, a precision

engineer, in 1966.

She said: "It was the World Cup year so we

had to make sure our wedding didn't clash

with it, so we booked it for afterwards. We

stayed on the North Cliff and spent time at

Galaland and Peasholm Park – I remember a

mechanical elephant that used to go up and

down the footpath near the open-air theatre.

There were endless places to go and there

still are."

Janet and Geoff moved to Scarborough

permanently in 1978, which coincided with

the birth of their son Nigel, who is now 29.

He has a first class honours degree in

Computer Science and recently gained a PhD

in Philosophy at Newcastle University.

Janet said: "I'm immensely proud. At the age

of 13 Nigel unfortunately got ME and was ill

for six years. He is in good health now, but it

was a long, hard battle as there was a lot of

ignorance about the illness. But it shows no

matter what happens you can still fulfil your

ambitions."

From 1978 until 1983 Janet and Geoff ran the

VG food store in Seamer Road, which was

where the bridal shop is now. They then moved

to their present home in Eastborough and

created The Train Shop, selling model railways,

which is now in its 24th year.

Previously Janet had worked in administration

for 16 years in the construction industry

and also worked as an assistant valuer for an

estate agency.

She said: "In those days you had to learn to

do everything – typing, wages and so on – so it

has stood me in good stead for business and the

council."

Janet's community involvement began in

1994 when she created the Eastborough

Traders Association and became a member of

the Castle Ward Tenants and Residents

Association. By working together with the

council, businesses and residents they helped

to restore and uplift the area. At the time,

Castle Ward was one of the 10 most deprived

areas in the country.

Janet said: "The area had become a ghetto.

There were problems with multi-occupancy

houses and it was beginning to destroy the

community. We knew how things had been

before and wanted to get it back.

"A quality of life in turn brings a pride in

the area – you have got to give somebody a

reason for getting up in the morning, something

to look forward to.

"There's no such thing as can't. If you work

together as a community you can achieve anything."

Janet became an Independent Castle Ward

councillor in 1999 and is currently president of

the Scarborough Chamber of Trade and

Commerce, chairman of the Scarborough Anti-

Theft group, chairman of the Castle Ward community

police group, a member of the Sports

Council and Community Safety Board and is a

governor at Friarage Community School.

Janet is also, along with her husband, a

committee member of the Scarborough In

Bloom group.

With such a busy schedule, Janet does not

have a lot of free time, but she does not seem to

mind at all.

She said: "I've always worked since I was

married and have always been busy. I was the

first secretary of the parents' association when

my son was at Lisvane School.

"But it's a wonderful duty meeting so many

people, of all ages. Every event is special –

whether it's meeting a 100-year-old, visiting

schools, galas or fetes. I find that judging fancy

dress is one of the hardest things!

"My husband of 41 years, Geoff, is a wonderful

consort. He supports me and really enjoys

meeting people."

Janet describes Prince Charles' visit to

Scarborough last week as " a great honour"

and is no stranger to the Royals. She has been

a lifelong fan of the family and thinks her

interest may have been sparked by the fact she

was born on August 4 1946 and shared her

birthday with the Queen Mother.

She said: "When I was little they used to play

God Save the Queen on BBC radio news at

seven or eight o'clock on the Queen Mother's

birthday. My dad used to turn it up and shout

'Happy Birthday Janet Helen'. My mum and

dad were very patriotic and I think that stood

me in good stead through life."

Janet was brought up near the Imphal

Barracks in York and used to watch the

parades pass by. She also witnessed the wedding

of the Duke and Duchess of Kent in York

in 1961.

She travelled to London to lay flowers and

pay her respects following the deaths of

Princess Diana and the Queen Mother. She has

seen almost all members of the royal family on

various occasions and has been to a garden

party at Buckingham Palace.

Janet said: "Four or five years ago I was

invited to the garden party, along with

Rosemary Forrest, for the work we had done

with Ernie Robinson, a veteran fundraiser in

Scarborough. It was a wonderful event and

great to be able to accompany Ernie as I had

known him for a lot of years."

In her rare moments of free time Janet

enjoys cooking, baking and watching

Coronation Street.

Janet's mayoral theme for the year is

"Community Pride", an issue which is clearly

close to her heart. She said: "To achieve the

position of mayor for me can't be bettered. My

ambition now is to carry on doing what I'm

doing with the support of people around me."

QUESTION TIME

Star sign: Leo

Favourite holiday destination: Scarborough

has always been my favourite, along with the

Moors, Whitby and Filey.

Favourite bit of Scarborough: The harbour and

Sandside.

Favourite food: Fish and chicken

Two people you would most like to invite to

dinner: Prince William and Kate Middleton

Favourite TV show: Heartbeat, Coronation

Street and The Darling Buds of May

Favourite film: The Railway Children