Glen Chisholm reflects on his year as Mayor of Ipswich
“Perhaps in years to come we will have a young dashing politician for Ipswich who said they were inspired on this journey from when Glen came to my school.”
Reflecting on his past year as Mayor of Ipswich, Glen Chisholm hopes he has motivated someone to make a difference, no matter what their background is.
From hitting a half-pipe with a vicar in a newly-opened skatepark, to busting a move in a charity flash mob, Mr Chisholm has been praised for bringing a fresh twist to the ceremonial role.
“I think I really did put my own stamp on it, my own sense of humour. I took the role seriously but I don’t take myself too seriously and I think that really shines through,” the 43-year-old said.
While raising thousands of pounds for his two chosen charities, Suffolk MIND and the Ipswich Hospital Sunrise Appeal, Mr Chisholm has also created greater awareness about mental health and encouraged people to seek support.
“I suppose because I spoke so openly about my own mental health background, I did have people contact me directly to discuss mental health issues and I had to make sure I put them through to the right people who would be able to help them,” Mr Chisholm said.
“I wanted to raise awareness around my charities which I feel I did, and I wanted to reach out to as many as possible and the response I had makes me feel I achieved that, so I’m very proud about what we achieved over the year.”
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Having his teenage son Clinton as his consort, Mr Chisholm has paved the way for introducing the younger generation to the role, with new Mayor of Ipswich Roger Fern choosing to have his granddaughter as his companion.
And Mr Chisholm also hopes he has changed people’s views on who a mayor should be and how they are viewed.
“My best achievement would be the amount of engagement I managed to get in. There was still this perception of mayors being on a pedestal, and when you went to some events some people actually felt a little bit nervous,” Mr Chisholm said.
“It was great being able to break down barriers, walking down the street and having people come up and talk to me about issues and making people realise we are just normal people.”
One of Mr Chisholm’s favourite parts of the role was going to so many schools across the town and meeting the children, one of whom mistook his robes and chain for a pirate’s costume.
“Every time I went to a school and spoke to the children I explained that I grew up in the same streets as you children did, had a job – I may have even worked with some of your parents,” Mr Chisholm added.
“I think that anyone can be mayor. I grew up facing dyslexia and I had many barriers in the way of me, but anyone can achieve in this town, it’s all about having confidence and finding what you are good at and working hard at it.
“When I went around to schools I didn’t necessarily want children to look at me and think,‘oh I want to be mayor’ but perhaps when they look at me and they can think, ‘if he can be mayor, there’s nothing stopping me from being an engineer, or a journalist, or a photographer’.
“I want them to look outside of their bubble and, more than anything, I would have loved to have inspired someone to do something.”
Mr Chisholm is now focusing on his work as an Ipswich borough councillor for the Whitehouse ward, where he grew up, and on his full-time job at LV insurance company.