Town Councillor Cathy Collier gives Christine Conlin her first mayoral interview
Though she joined Stone Town Council only three years ago, Cathy Collier knows exactly what to do as Mayor. From 2004-5 she was Mayoress to her husband Geoff, the proprietor of Stonefield Garage, running his diary and accompanying him to functions, (having made sure he’d changed out of his overalls first).
“Yes, it will be a role reversal,”
said Cathy in her acceptance speech, explaining that she’d be leaving Geoff instructions on the kitchen table for using the dish washer and the washing machine. Which prompted a warning from the audience about not letting him chose her outfits as well!
Her deputy Mayor will be Councillor Sue Shaw, whose husband Councillor Mike Shaw was mayor in 2012-13.
“It’s the first time that the Mayor and Consort and the Deputy Mayor and consort are all Town Councillors,”
“I wasn’t even at the meeting where this year’s Mayoralty was discussed,”
reveals Cathy, who polled the highest number of votes ever cast in St Michaels Ward when she was elected Conservative Councillor in 2011.
“But even though I’m still working full time, I decided to accept. It’s not an opportunity which comes round very often.”
Aged 61, Cathy has decided to use her Mayoralty as the reason to retire next month from her 23-year career in the IT Department of Stoke-on-Trent City Council. As Senior Program Analyst, she is responsible for the computer systems running the council’s payroll, benefits payments, housing and social services systems.
A role which calls for a highly-organised individual with a logical approach and a cool head in a crisis?
“Whenever a system crashes or a server goes down, you certainly have to get things up and running again asap,”
Cathy calmly points out.
Cathy comes from Leek, where she attended Westwood Hall Girls’ Grammar School, and it was her first marriage that brought her here to Stafford Borough. But tragically in 1985, her husband died suddenly of a heart attack aged only 39, leaving Cathy with young sons Nathan and Ashley to bring up.
“Fortunately, my parents, who were living on a farm nearby in Creswell, were extremely supportive,”
Later that year, mutual friends introduced Cathy to Geoff. The pair fell for each other and when they got married four years later, Geoff sealed his commitment to his new family by adopting Nathan and Ashley. Their home is a secluded cottage whose garden was once the village green at Whitgreave.
Besides tending their own garden, Cathy and Geoff are active members of Stone in Bloom. And in her capacity as Stone District Commissioner for the Stone and Eccleshall Division Guides, Cathy helped recruit Stone Brownies in April to take part in scattering seeds of the red Flanders poppies which will soon be springing up all over Stone to commemorate WW1.
On May 8th, Cathy’s fellow Guide Leaders packed into the Town Council chamber to celebrate one of their own being made Mayor. Stone District Guides and Scouts will be one of her mayoral charities, along with Local Guide Dogs for the Blind, Stone Stroke Club and Stone Alzheimers Drop-in.
But back to their Whitgreave cottage, where the garage houses two 1970s Triumph Stags, the pride of Geoff’s classic car collection. Cathy also drives them, and couple enjoy giving them outings on Stag Owners’ Club tours to the Manifold Valley or round the walled towns of North Wales.
“We might use one of them to arrive at summer Mayoral events,”
hopes Cathy, who has been known to lend Geoff a second pair of hands with engine repairs. You never know, she might even ride one open-top at Stone Carnival!
Opening Stone Carnival and judging the floats will be a highlight of Cathy’s Mayoral year.
“I’m looking forward to catching up with all the local groups I first got to know while Geoff was mayor – and meeting many which didn’t even exist ten years ago, such as the U3A.”
With so many voluntary and charitable groups have springing up meantime, Cathy anticipates she will have to attend many more functions as Mayor than she did as Geoff’s Mayoress 10 years ago. Her reaction?
“Bring them on – I’m ready for it!”
But Cathy still plans to set aside time for her latest hobby, designing and making her own cards with Stone Papercraft Club. She made her mum Brenda a 90th birthday card last year and produced the wedding invitations for son Nathan’s wedding.
“I got a production line going on the kitchen table,”
she laughs, showing off a collection of professional-looking embossed and die-cut cards.
So if you or your organisation invite Mayor Cathy to open an event, the thank-you you’ll receive afterwards will very likely have been made with her own fair hands.