Councillor Mark Lygo is set to take up office as the 61st Lord Mayor of Oxford at a virtual ‘Handing over of the Chains’ ceremony.
The ceremony will take place on the City Council’s YouTube channel at 4pm on Monday 30 November. It will be the first time in Oxford’s history that the ‘Handing over of the Chains’ ceremony has taken place virtually.
Councillor Lygo will take over the responsibility from Councillor Craig Simmons, who has served as Lord Mayor of Oxford since May 2019. The ceremony will also see Councillor Stephen Goddard take over as Deputy Lord Mayor, and Councillor Dick Wolff take over as Sheriff of Oxford. All three will carry out charity fundraising and represent the city at official events throughout their terms.
Handing over of the chains
Councillor Lygo was due to take over as Lord Mayor of Oxford in May 2020, but the ceremony was cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the Council agreed in May 2020 at the Annual Council meeting to extend Cllr Simmons’ term for six months and the terms of office of the Deputy Lord Mayor and Sheriff of Oxford. The decision to elect Councillor Lygo as Lord Mayor of Oxford was taken at the Annual Council meeting in May 2020 and takes effect at the start of the Council meeting on 30 November, so the ‘Handing over of the Chains’ next week is purely ceremonial.
The City Council has recorded a special video for the occasion, which includes:
- Councillor Simmons summing up his unusual term of office
- Councillors Susan Brown and Mike Rowley explaining why they nominated Councillor Lygo for the role
- A virtual handing over of the chains (from one screen to another)
Councillors Lygo, Goddard and Wolff will hold their offices for 18 months – subject to their re-election as councillors in the May 2021 local elections and a confirmatory vote at the annual meeting in May 2021. The City Council will return to one-year terms of office from May 2022.
Traditionally, the role of Lord Mayor of Oxford is given to the City Council’s longest-serving councillor who has not already had the role. The Lord Mayor generally carries out more than 300 engagements each year. These cover a wide range, from Royal visits and leading the City's annual Remembrance Sunday service, to small community group meetings and charity events.
The first recorded Mayor of Oxford is Turchillus, who held the honour between 1122 and 1123, and mayors’ names stretch in an unbroken line until 1962, when the dignity of the Lord Mayor was granted to Oxford by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Councillor Lygo is the 61st Lord Mayor of Oxford since 1962.
The new Lord Mayor of Oxford
Councillor Mark Lygo was first elected to Oxford City Council in 2008 representing Churchill ward. He is the City Council’s current Sports Champion, and previously served for five years as cabinet member (then City Executive Board Member) for sports, parks and events.
He has served on a number of City Council committees during his tenure, including Planning, Licensing and Scrutiny, and currently sits on two outside bodies, Bullingdon Community Association and Oxford Sports Council. Councillor Lygo is also a serving County Councillor and has represented Marston and Northway Division since his election in 2013.
Born and bred in Oxford, Councillor Lygo lives in Headington with his wife and two teenage children. Away from council duties, he is a keen supporter of grassroots sports and culture. He is currently Chairman of Quarry Rovers FC, a local referee, and a supporter of Oxford United FC. He is a keen runner and fitness enthusiast, an interest he nurtures as part of the GoodGym project.
Fundraising for local charities
Councillor Lygo has chosen to raise funds for three charities during his term:
- Wood Farm Youth Centre, which provides activities and opportunities for 11-19 year olds in Wood Farm
- Ark-T Centre, which provides creative opportunities to help improve the lives of young people in Cowley
- Oxfordshire Mind, which provides support and advice for those suffering with mental health issues
Councillor Simmons, during his 18 months as Lord Mayor of Oxford, raised funds for Asylum Welcome and The Lord Mayor’s Climate Change Fund.
“I am delighted to have been selected as Lord Mayor of Oxford; it is both a privilege and an honour to be chosen to represent our city. This past year has been a challenge for everyone yet Oxford has demonstrated great unity, resilience and innovation in the face of unprecedented adversity.
“We have all had to adapt to new ways of living because of the pandemic – moving our work online, meeting friends virtually and keeping distance from those we hold dear. My coming Civic Year will have its own challenges but until we can collaborate and celebrate in person, I invite you to join me and my chosen charities online on Twitter and Instagram at @OxfordLordMayor.
“Our community spirit is stronger than ever and I look forward to what the next eighteen months has to hold for our city.”
Councillor Mark Lygo