New cultural boss saddles up for city

Photo Neil Cross
Coun Peter Kelly has been made Preston Council's new cabinet member for leisure and culture
Photo Neil Cross Coun Peter Kelly has been made Preston Council's new cabinet member for leisure and culture
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Peter Kelly first arrived in the UK aged 18 - after leaving his home in Sydney to backpack around Europe.

More than 30 years later, the “adopted Prestonian” is to become the city’s new cultural boss, taking the baton from stalwart Veronica Afrin.

Photo Neil Cross
Coun Peter Kelly has been made Preston Council's new cabinet member for leisure and culture

Photo Neil Cross Coun Peter Kelly has been made Preston Council's new cabinet member for leisure and culture

The 49-year-old Riversway Labour councillor has been chosen as the cabinet member for Preston’s multi-million pound cultural and leisure services, including the Harris Museum, leisure centres and the events programme.

Peter, a psychologist who has lived in the city for the last 12 years, described serving the people of Preston as a “tremendous honour”.

He said: “I’m extremely proud of Preston. Ten years ago I’d have said my home was Australia but now I say Preston is my home! It’s a fantastic city with so much to offer.

“Culture and community are at the heart of what makes Preston the proud city that it is.

Photo Neil Cross
Coun Peter Kelly has been made Preston Council's new cabinet member for leisure and culture

Photo Neil Cross Coun Peter Kelly has been made Preston Council's new cabinet member for leisure and culture

“We have an amazing mix of cultures and heritage which really gives Preston a unique edge.

“The challenge is to build on this and expand what the city offers at a time when council funding is being cut.

“Though with every challenge there’s also an opportunity for new thinking and new ways of working that can still make an impact.

“The Harris is a great example of this. By working in partnership with the arts sector, local communities and Lancashire County Council we can transform the Harris into a premier attraction, not just for Lancashire but for the North West as a whole. It’s about working differently in a more dynamic and joined up way.

“Using our influence, listening to people who have a genuine passion and interest in culture, arts and sports in Preston and working with them to make a difference.

“I’m relishing the opportunity and will bring total dedication and enthusiasm to the role – as well as an Australian sense of humour.”

Peter, who lives in Riversway, is married with two step-children, and was elected as councillor for the ward in 2014.

As well as arts and culture, Peter lists his interests as walking and films, and also describes himself as a “connoisseur of real ale”.

He has dyslexia and is 5ft 5in in height, and said his careers teacher at school suggested he became a jockey - despite never having ridden a horse.

Peter said: “It doesn’t matter if you have dyslexia or what teachers’ expectations are of you - you can go on and get degrees and still be successful.

“But I should aim in the next year to have at least one horse-riding lesson.”