20 June 2024

‘Newspaper played a part in my passion for local politics’

by Ray Duffill

The Hedon penny throwing event last Thursday also served as an introduction to the town’s 676th mayor, councillor Di Storr.

The traditional event, normally the first public act of the new mayor, is a fun event, a historical parody of when Hedon was a “rotten borough” and 19th-century votes for Hedon’s MPs were often bought for an old penny.

Today new pennies are doled out to local children who scramble around to collect them from the floor outside the town hall. Dozens of children and their parents assembled to take part last week, and in a gentle start to the proceedings, the new mayor knelt down to give some town pennies to the smallest child who was patiently waiting to collect.

Cllr Storr joined Hedon Town Council in 2002. However, in her mayor-making and reception speech, responding to the formal toasts announcing her as mayor, she explained how the Gazette had played a part in her decision to get involved in the authority.

She worked for the Gazette in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a part-time job that she thoroughly enjoyed. During her time covering local events and news, she discovered lots about her local communities and the people active in them. This would eventually pave the way for identifying local needs and her leading role in setting up a youth club in Hedon.

Her work in following up on local police reports would later prompt her into successfully campaigning to get Hedon police station reopened when it was closed down. She recalls the exciting experience of a fact-finding visit that involved her accompanying local police on a drugs raid.

But it was her role in reporting the local Hedon Town Council meetings, where she would sit at the back and take note of the proceedings, that made her realise she had strong opinions on some of the matters being discussed.

So when an opportunity to get involved came up in 2002 she went for it and took the plunge, and now she is in her 21st year of being a councillor. She said: “It’s a voluntary role and we certainly don’t get paid. It’s true that being on the council provides only a small platform and opportunity to change things.

“And, yes, we spend time helping resolve issues with dog bins and bus shelters and those other small, albeit important, things, but there are opportunities to make a difference and help people and that’s why we do it.”

The mayor’s chosen good cause to fundraise for during her period in office is Hull and East Yorkshire Mind, and Marie-Louise Robinson from the charity spoke to explain the work of the organisation in supporting local people with mental health problems.

The other notable event at the mayor-making was the announcement that Neil Black, former town councillor and servant of the town for 38 years, had been appointed by the council as an honorary freeman.

The title of Honorary Freeman of Hedon is only awarded to “persons of distinction” and persons who have “rendered eminent service” to the town. Mr Black is now one of only two living recipients of the title.

Hedon Town Council has two vacancies and is seeking to co-opt interested people to get involved. Those interested should write to the town clerk, Kim Gray, at Hedon Town Hall, St Augustine’s Gate, Hedon HU12 8EX, by June 22.