Chorley's new mayor knows his history and wants to help others in fundraising drive

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A young Tommy Gray never had the notion that he may one day have had the title of mayor bestowed upon him.

Yet had he ever entertained the idea during his youth, there is only one place in which the now 81-year-old would have wanted to hold the title - his home town of Chorley.

“I never thought of leaving Chorley - it's in my blood,” Cllr Gray told the Post, before confessing to a now distant dalliance with Leyland, for family reasons.

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The ascent to his new role comes after serving a total 15 out of the last 24 years on Chorley Council, where he currently represents the Euxton ward.

Mayor of Chorley Cllr Tommy Gray and his mayoress, daughter Michelle Gray (image: Paul Heyes)Mayor of Chorley Cllr Tommy Gray and his mayoress, daughter Michelle Gray (image: Paul Heyes)
Mayor of Chorley Cllr Tommy Gray and his mayoress, daughter Michelle Gray (image: Paul Heyes)
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While his focus for the year ahead is “to raise as much money as possible” for his chosen good causes - St Catherine’s Hospice, Derian House, North West Air Ambulance and Chorley Shop Mobility - Cllr Gray also hopes that being steeped in the borough’s recent history will enable him to bring something special to the ceremonial office.

There is not much about the past eight decades in the district that he does not recall - and he believes that that will enable him to relate to those with similarly long memories of the borough he loves and also to impart some of his acquired knowledge to the many younger people he will meet over the next 12 months.

“I can remember places like the dance hall and the skating rink [that Chorley used to have],” said Cllr Gray, whose daughter Michelle - one of three children he has with his wife Mary - will be his mayoress.

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He also has vivid memories of more troubled times in the borough’s past, which later generations might know little or nothing about - and which the new mayor says are important to be passed on.

“There was the flywheel that blew at the cotton mill on North Street [in the early 1950s]. That was so sad - one gentleman got killed and there were a few people injured, because [the debris] went all over the place

“The machine started going faster and faster - all the ropes started getting tangled and eventually the pressure just shattered the flywheel, which was about 24 foot in diameter.”

Cllr Gray has himself spent his life working with machines of one kind or another - first at Brinscall quarry, then during a 21-year spell at Leyland Motors, before returning to quarry work for the final 14 years of his career.

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He will turn 82 next month, but is not daunted by the prospect of having to pick up the pace during a busy mayoral year ahead.

“I can’t wait to get started and doing everything that people want me to do,” he said.