Kit Leck, Mayor Ilfracombe Town Council. Who is he? – Who is he?

It is really difficult to put into words my feeling on becoming Ilfracombe Town Mayor. But pride, excitement and trepidation are probably the best.

When my wife, Jane and I moved to Ilfracombe in 2011 neither of us envisaged the honour that has been bestowed upon us. Our love for the town and its townsfolk started some 20 years ago when we became regular visitors to North Devon to visit family and long weekends. In 2009 I was lucky to take early retirement from a career spanning 30 years in the local government and NHS in Warwickshire. Most of which I spent working with; and managing community services for, vulnerable people.

I seem to have always been involved with community groups and charities. In fact I have been a member of the Lions for over 25 years both in Warwickshire and here in Ilfracombe. One of the most exciting new activities I only discovered once I moved to Ilfracombe was skittles. I’ve been playing for about 5 years now and I’m not really that good; but it’s a fantastic way to socialise and have a craic.

I am a keen golfer and have been a member of Ilfracombe Golf Club ever since I moved to Ilfracombe. It was a happy coincidence when I met up with a couple of golfers one day and while searching for lost balls, I happened to mention that I was thinking about putting my name forward as a candidate at the 2015 elections. As it turned out, both my playing companions were Town Councillors and the rest as they say is history. I was fortunate to be elected and again in 2019 when I became deputy Mayor.

Sadly, plans were put on hold when we first started to realise how devastating COVID was going to be for residents and business. It’s only now that I have been able to take up the position of Mayor. During the early days of the pandemic and right up to the present-day Councillor Val Gates undertook her Mayoral duties with enthusiasm and dogged determination. She was always up for a fight when trying to get what is best for the Town. I can think of no better person to have been at the helm.

Now, as we emerge from the Covid crisis I am reminded that compared to other areas of the country we seem to have been fairly lucky to have escaped so lightly. But this clearly cannot apply to all in our community and I’m mindful of the impact that this terrible virus has had upon individuals, families and businesses. We are not out of the woods yet and as a community we must learn from the past and do all we can to make sure there is no repeat of the terrible times we have all come through.

As Mayor I am following in the footsteps of some larger-than-life individuals. Indeed, the current Council contains many such personalities, and I will not be afraid to ask then for help and advice. I recognise that for many I’m a “blow-in”; which is why I’m so excited to have a true Combe Boy, Dan Turton as my Deputy. I know that Dan will bring youthful enthusiasm and loads of local knowledge to the partnership.

So what of the future? If I’m honest, I believe what’s required over the next few months is consolidation and rebuilding. That means not only breathing new life into the projects and initiatives we started pre and during lockdown; but also recognising that as a community and council we must do all we can to support businesses, vulnerable individuals and families most at risk from further harm. With the help and guidance from all our councillors and our amazing staff I will be keeping a keen eye on four keys issues; Transport, Housing, Tourism and Health.

I hope that you now know me a little better. Let’s hope for a fantastic summer and enjoy welcoming back visitors to our amazing town.

Stay safe!

Councillor Kit Leck