Derry’s last ever Mayor Brenda Stevenson says she feels a mixture of emotions as she prepares to hang up her chain next week.
The SDLP woman who tonight conferred the Freedom of the City Bishop Daly and Bishop Mehaffey said she is looking forward to a new chapter.
“This will be the first time in almost a decade I wont directly be involved in politics but I will remain in the party,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to going back to being a wife, a mother and a friend.
“To devote myself to the year as Mayor I knew that sacrifices would have to be made. My family life has taken a back seat for the past ten months and my husband Tommy has become mum and dad to both of the boys. They are both teenagers (17 and 19) and they have supported me and coped so well. They, and Tommy have enjoyed being part of it.
“You couldn’t do it without the family support. There’s days you can be on the batter from as early as 7 a.m. until 1 a.m. depending on what the diary is. And diary commitments can range from one engagement a day up to 12 or 13. But one engagement is very, very rare, I have had very few days off during the year except over the Christmas period.
“I feel that the Mayor should be a Mayor for everybody and that means honouring all the diary commitments and that’s why I took the year out so I would have the scope and time to be able to do that.
“I just felt to be able to do a good job I needed that full time, hands on role.”
And of course Brenda’s family particularly the Humes, couldn’t be prouder.
“When they open the paper they say - not another new coat Brenda!,” she said. “They are extremely proud and know how much I’ve given over the years and the sacrifices I’ve made to be a councillor and as mayor.”
As she looks back on 2014 and 2015 Brenda says the city enjoyed so many fantastic events such as Clipper, MTV, Halloween and St Patrick’s Day.
“I think what made it even better was that the weather was phenomenal. And I’ve enjoyed helping to highlight the work of the charities I chose - Something Special and Circle of Support.”
As she prepares to step down Brenda said she would like to encourage other women to go into politics.
“Get involved, stay committed, believe in yourself. See advice of those who have been in a similar position, be yourself, stay true to yourself but always strive to be the best you can. That’s the best advice I could give.”
See interview in full and pictures of the Mayor’s Ball in this Friday’s Journal.