TOWN clerk of St Ives, George Cooper was excused from his ceremonial duties at the Mayor-making ceremony last Wednesday (May 10) when his partner, Julie Ayre, went into labour. The birth of his first child, Rebecca May, did not stop Mr Cooper catching the closing moments of the ceremony though, as he dropped into the Free Church to announce the good news to friends and colleagues. The baby, who weighed eight pounds and six ounces, was born at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in the late afternoon, although she was expected a little earlier in the month - on election day. Speaking from home on paternity leave, Mr Cooper said: "I am absolutely ecstatic. For a new-born she is pretty big, but I've never seen such a beautiful baby, although I'm biased, of course. She has a big mop of dark hair too - I never knew babies could be born with so much. "She was due on polling day which would have been even more interesting time at work - the first polling day that I have not worked in 20 years. But she obviously decided that, as significant as polling day is, she wanted to make an appearance at mayor-making instead." After one night in hospital, mother and baby came home to Needingworth, where there has been little sleep in the Cooper-Ayre household since. Ms Ayre said: "I think the most sleep we've had since last Wednesday is about four hours so we're both very tired. But she is doing fine." Mr Cooper added: "She seems to like to sleep during the day and be awake at night - I suspect she's going to be a little party animal." The new Mayor of St Ives offered his congratulations to the couple, saying the new arrival was a "great start" to the new civic year. Baby Rebecca marks a happy ending - or beginning - for the couple, who were confronted by a gang of youths in July 2004 when Mr Cooper went to secure a broken ride at the Burleigh Hill play area. He suffered a badly broken ankle during the incident.