Councillors from across the political divide have paid tribute to the outgoing mayor of St Helens.
The council came together on Wednesday to praise the work of the outgoing mayor and Thatto Heath councillor, Pat Ireland.
Liberal Democrat leader Teresa Sims recalled Coun Ireland’s trepidation prior to her becoming the eighth woman to take the mantle of mayor.
Coun Sims said she has “grown in confidence”, adding that people will “always remember the warmth and the smile” that Pat brought to the role.
Conservative leader Allan Jones said Coun Ireland has been a “very, very good mayor” and thanked her on behalf of the Tory group for her hard work during her mayoral year.
Thatto Heath Labour councillor Nova Charlton praised Coun Ireland’s “warmth” and “amazing ability” to reach out to people at all levels.
Coun Charlton said: “Pat has embraced the role with energy, passion and enthusiasm that some half your age wouldn’t be able to do.
“Her empathy, warmth and good humour have shone through.”
Addressing the depleted council – which had 16 members absent – Coun Ireland reflected on her time as mayor and her decision not to stand for re-election in May, saying she had “done her time”.
Coun Ireland said she and the mayoress, Coun Lynn Glover, had a “brilliant time” during the mayoral year, saying they made a “great double act” for the town.
She praised the tireless volunteers who support those in need and in ill health, calling them “gold dust”, and praised the “unsung heroes” in the faith sector.
The Labour councillor said a highlight of her year was a trip to Stuttgart, to mark the 70th anniversary of the town’s twinning with the German city.
During her trip, Coun Ireland said she had the honour of naming a tram St Helens, complete with the town’s crest, and christened it with water from the Sankey Canal.
She also revealed she was brought to tears by the reception to a performance from Cowley Senior Choir.
Coun Ireland said: “The flash mob with Cowley International Choir singing as they got off the tram to the main station, was terrific.
“The place was packed and all the people there stood still and listened and clapped our choir. I cried.”
Coun Ireland also spoke of her charity work over the past 12 months, raising funds for St Helens Hospital Diabetes Centre and The Steve Prescott Foundation.
The 74-year-old added that she was “very proud” her charity abseil down St Helens Hospital last month.
Concluding, Coun Ireland said: “I would like to thank you for giving me the honour of being your mayor, and I hope I didn’t let you down.”
Sutton councillor and current deputy mayor Janet Johnson was nominated for election as mayor, which will take place at its annual meeting on May 22.