It was Thursday 12 November 2015 on a winters evening. Twelve children and their families gathered together at the Civic Hall in the centre of Leeds to find out who was going to be the new Children’s Lord Mayor of Leeds. Hannah Begum from Hunslet Moor Primary school south Leeds said, ‘she wasn’t nervous’. Her Mum, aunt and teacher Miss Hicks who were with her, were. Together all candidates were awaiting their destiny, but first, to shake the nerves and get warmed up, they played an ice-breaking game of human bingo in the banqueting suite. They were then summoned into the council chamber room to meet the actual Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Judith Chapman.

Master of Ceremonies, Hannah Lamplugh (Lead Participation Officer Leeds City Council) addressed the room and said ‘All stand for the Lord Mayor of Leeds’. Once Cllr Judith Chapman had entered, one by one each shortlisted candidate stood up and read out their own manifesto to the Lord Mayor. Standing in the backdrop of the grand wooden paneled room Hannah could have said hers without a piece of paper, as she knew it off by heart from her recent campaigning. Then she saw that Hannah Lamplugh was holding the gold envelope which she handed to Cllr Judith Chapman, at which point Hannah did begin to get nervous. Silence fell upon the room (Mum said it was more exciting than the ‘X Factor!’)

Then the moment came and Hannah’s name was pulled out of the gold envelope. The next part of the evening was a flurry of texts, tears, hugs and people making phone calls. Hannah doesn’t remember how long she was stood there before the family were whisked away into a side room and was dressed into her ceremonial robes, gloves and black tricorne hat. Hannah said the fur was very itchy and the weight of the necklace lay over the top of the collar.

Next she was introduced to Mark and John, Hannah’s escorts for her public engagements. Her first official civic duty began seconds later with her proclamation to the city. She was led to another smaller room, and added a single piece of blue lego to the growing copy of the city crest made entirely out of lego; a fundraising challenge set by Cllr Judith Chapman.

Then Hannah was announced back into the chamber room to meet everyone again in full regalia as  ‘The New Children’s Lord Mayor’. I asked her what it feels like to come back down to earth, and she said ‘I haven’t yet, I’m still so happy’

Next Hannah’s second official public duty that evening was the Light’s Switch-On in Victoria Gardens. She didn’t actually get to switch on the lights, however, her introduction to the public was given unfazed and off the script. I think Hannah is going to get very used to her new role.

Hannah didn’t get to sleep that night until 11pm! The next day was Children in Need breakfast Hannah was greeted by a large banner reading ‘Congratulation’s Hannah’. Her friends are saying ‘remember I’m your best friend when you’re famous’

I asked (Hannah) Darley the head teacher of Hunlset Moor her reaction she said this:

“As a community, we are so very proud of Hannah’s achievement. For me, as Head Teacher of Hunslet Moor, it is so inspiring to see the position of Children’s Lord Mayor, being taken up by a child who saw an opportunity and took a risk in putting herself forward to achieve her ambition. Hannah’s success sends out sends such an important message to other pupils ‘If you think ‘big’, aim high- anything really is possible!’ As a school, we are looking forward to seeing how Hannah’s journey and vision unfold. Hannah’s class teacher, Miss Hicks has been a real support for Hannah throughout her campaign, a passionate advocate of Hannah’s abilities, she is the first to recognise Hannah’s potential “Hannah recognises others’ views extremely well, she can listen to others and represent different voices across the city. She is a very driven and dedicated pupil. She is a real role model in school; it’s fantastic that she has been given the opportunity to extended her influence across the city!”

Hannah’s mother Thahmina also wants to thank the school and the community for their continued support. Especially South Leeds Academy, Hunslet Carr Primary and Cockburn High school, they went above and beyond showing their support for Hannah’s campaigning in the run up to the elections. Also, Ed Carlisle Green Party candidate for City and Hunlset and David Cameron for responding to her letter.

Hannah and her family also want to thank all the ‘Voice and Influence’ team that worked behind the scenes;  Hannah Lamplugh and coordinator Richard Cracknell. Also, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Children and Families Cllr Lucinda Yeadon and Andrea Holgate from Leeds City Council.

Hannah’s first formal engagement in the new year will be ‘deputation to full council’. She will read out her manifesto again to 99 councilors who are going to help bring children from different parts of Leeds together, a reality. You can read Hannah’s manifesto here.

Congratulations Hannah, enjoy everything your new role has to offer, from all of us at South Leeds Life.

 

Judith and Hannah 1
Lord Mayor of Leeds Cllr Judith Chapman and Children’s Lord Mayor of Leeds Hannah Begum photograph courtesy of Leeds City Council

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