Celebrating Shefford Town Mayor Paul Mackin as he steps down after 20 years’ service
'The person I must thank and pay tribute to most is my wife'
Shefford’s dedicated Mayor Paul Mackin has stepped down after an impressive 20 years, as the Chronicle pays tribute to his service to the community.
Cllr Mackin first joined Shefford Town Council in 1989, before being elected Deputy Mayor in 1998, and Mayor in May 2000 at the dawn of a new millennium.
During his time in office he has left a lasting legacy, and in recent years Cllr Mackin has been awarded certificates from Bedfordshire Police for his work to tackle vandalism, the High Sheriff’s Citizenship Award (2016), and a High Sheriffs Certificate (2020) for the work of the council during the Covid 19 crisis.
Cllr Mackin told the Chronicle: “It’s been really good fun, a lot of work, but good fun. It’s been my hobby, and it feels strange to be standing back and not leading from the front. But it’s time other people got a crack at the job.
“Over the 20 years I have been Mayor I have instigated or been heavily involved in most of the projects that we have run. Some worked well and some ran their time and were dropped.
There has been the odd ‘low point’ but mainly it has been a very rewarding 20 years.”
Some projects that Cllr Mackin is particularly proud of include the Youth Activity Team, which has “changed from an entertainment roll into a more supportive roll”, especially during the Covid-19 crisis, while for several years the council took on the running of the annual gala before handing it to the care of the team at the Shefford Town Memorial Association.
Meanwhile, Cllr Mackin believes that “the biggest step forward” that he initiated was the purchase of Shefford House.
He remembers: “I rushed into the agents shop and put my credit card on the desk and said take it off the market, we will take it. It sounds a bit of a rash thing to do but knowing how some developers would cherish a town centre site...
“Luckily, the present owner understood how councils work and was happy to allow us time for all the surveys carried out and the loan arranged via the Public Works Loan Board.”
Residents may also know of Cllr Mackin’s determination to provide land for allotments, with the council able to lease a site from the The Robert Lucas Trust.
However, taking a moment to remember the town’s history, too, Cllr Mackin said: “During the Second World War, Shefford played host to a lot of children from the London Jewish community, some were directly from the ‘Kindertransport’ from Europe.
“Over the years we have had visits by the descendants of those children. I felt that we needed to make them more welcome and the result has been a regular visit by children from the school that was evacuated to Shefford in those dark days of war. Members of our history group and town councillors have been down to the school to see plays put on by the children.”
Before and during his involvement with the town council, Cllr Mackin was a firefighter, beginning his journey in 1960 and retiring in 1999, as the compulsary retirement age was 55. “I should have retired in November 1999 but asked if I could stay on until the end of the millennium, so I retired at 23.59 Hrs on December 1999!” said Cllr Mackin.
Looking ahead, the former Mayor is still on the town council and hopes that the ‘Shefford Open 4 Business’ project can be revisited.
He told the Chronicle that he is stepping down as Mayor mainly because his wife Patricia’s health is not good and she needs support.
Cllr Mackin concluded: “The person I must thank and pay tribute to most is my wife, she has been very tolerant of me and my lifestyle, so it’s only right that I take time now to look after her.
“The other group of people that I must mention are our current and past town ouncillors who have supported me in just about every project I have raised and for being good friends.”