Military man becomes 41st Mayor of Woking

05 June 2014

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This evening (Thursday 5 June 2014), Cllr Tony Branagan was elected Woking Borough's 41st Mayor at the official Mayor-Making Ceremony, which took place at the Civic Offices during the Annual Meeting of Woking Borough Council.

After 22 years service as a member of the British Army, and spells in Germany, the Supreme Headquarters of Allied Powers Europe in Belgium and Hong Kong, Cllr Branagan was elected as the Conservative member for Horsell West in 1999.

Since becoming an elected member, Cllr Branagan has sat on the Planning Committee and enjoys taking an active role in the development of the town centre and the Borough, as Cllr Branagan explains: "Planning has an immediate and very lasting impact. It evokes tremendous passion and emotion in people which is why Planning Committee meetings are often packed. Making these decisions is a responsibility and I'm always conscious of the balance that has to be achieved between protecting the Green Belt and providing adequate housing and a town centre which is fit for the future."

Tony has relished the opportunities he has had as Deputy Mayor and is very much looking forward to his year as Mayor. "I want to represent Woking to the best of my abilities and get out and about and meet as many people in the voluntary sector as possible. I'll miss the cut and thrust of politics but I've had plenty of experience of remaining apolitical!" Cllr Branagan adds.

During his Mayoral year, Cllr Branagan has decided to support three charities: Combat Stress, Crossroads Care Surrey and The Young Carers at Woking High School.

Cllr Branagan explains: ""It was a very difficult decision to decide which charities to support as there are so many providing such wonderful services.

"I spent over 20 years in the forces and I was lucky to leave with good health. Unfortunately, there are many who aren't so lucky who suffer psychological injuries and mental health problems. Combat Stress is a mental welfare society which provides a range of therapies for ex-service personnel at three treatment centres. As the centenary of the First World War approaches, it seems even more pertinent than ever that we should support the men and women who have served for us.

"I have chosen to support Crossroads Care Surrey, the leading provider of respite breaks for carers and the people they care for, following the experience of a friend who cares for their spouse. I also became aware of the role of young carers when I met a group of young people from Woking High School at the Horsell Village Show last year and I was amazed at the support which they provide for family members, some with a chronic illness or disability.

"It is vital to help them with desperately-needed breaks, advice, education and training opportunities. The emphasis is for them to meet regularly with other young carers and have fun together, relax and to give some respite from their everyday responsibilities. The Young Carers at Woking High School is my third chosen charity. I'm looking forward to raising awareness of the role of all of these unsung heroes."

During his Mayoral year, Cllr Branagan will be supported by his wife Mary, his son, daughter and four grandchildren.

Woking's Deputy Mayor this year is Cllr Derek McCrum, currently a Liberal Democrat Councillor for Kingfield and Westfield.

During the ceremony, long-standing Borough Macebearer, Ron Simms, stepped down from his official Macebearer duties after 40 years to be replaced by Chris Rivett. Mr Simms will continue as Deputy Macebearer, conducting a variety of informal duties that include educating school children about the role and responsibilities of the Mayor of Woking.