FOR Huntingdon’s newly-elected mayor being the town’s first citizen is carrying on a family tradition.

FOR Huntingdon's newly-elected mayor, being the town's first citizen is carrying on a family tradition.

When Alan Mackender-Lawrence accepted the mayoral chain on Thursday, he was following in the footsteps of his mother Cecilia Lawrence. Mrs Lawrence served as mayor twice (1983 and 1989), and so for Councillor Mackender-Lawrence, who has been on Huntingdon Town Council since 2007, the office has particular resonance.

The honour coincides with his wife Christine Mackender-Lawrence's election to the town council.

So with his wife by his side, his mother's example in mind and the weight of history firmly on his shoulders, Cllr Mackender-Lawrence pledged at the mayor-making ceremony to be "a traditional mayor" and to continue the "good work of all those who have preceded me in the last 500 years".

"I would like to be a mayor more in touch with what is going on within the local community," he said. "I will be looking to see if we can get engagements either within local schools or with the local youth activities."

A priority for Cllr Mackender-Lawrence is raising the profile of the town's youth organisations, many of which are currently grappling with funding cuts.

He said he will be working to protect funding for the Huntingdonshire-wide youth activity programme FUSION, and hopes to co-ordinate with Huntingdon Youth Council to hold an open-air concert.

Cllr Mackender-Lawrence said: "If we raise awareness of the groups that are in the town, then we might not hear so much 'there's nothing for me to do.'"

Another key issue Cllr Mackender-Lawrence is looking forward to progressing is the re-development of Chequers Court and the regeneration of the west of the town. The plans, which involve building a new Sainsbury's supermarket and link road, and replacing the current Sainsbury's store with new stores, will transform the town for the better, said Cllr Mackender-Lawrence.

"The whole concept of the town centre developers is to regenerate the area. By having Sainsbury's the other side of the ring road, it will extend the high street."

A former national badminton team player and a qualified squash and badminton coach, Cllr Mackender-Lawrence works for Cambridgeshire County Council's social services, and has a love for cycling and fitness.

Darjeeling restaurant owner Raj Subhan has been appointed deputy mayor.

Cllr Jennifer Sarabia, who stepped in as mayor after ill-health forced Cllr Chris Doyle's resignation in January, was thanked for her service.

She presented donations to SSAFA, the Gabriel Newton's Educational Foundation and Huntingdonshire Society for the Blind.