South Ribble mayor’s inspiring journey from ‘not being able to hold a pen properly' to being the borough’s top dignatory

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For Chris Lomax, his rise to become South Ribble’s first citizen is one that seemed to amaze him even in the moment that it was happening.

During the ceremony which saw him installed as mayor, the Walton-le-Dale East representative even asked the assembled audience: “How did this happen?”

He then turned the clock back to his school days to explain why the honour was one that he would never have expected to come his way.

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Cllr Chris Lomax, mayor of South Ribble for the municipal year 2023/24Cllr Chris Lomax, mayor of South Ribble for the municipal year 2023/24
Cllr Chris Lomax, mayor of South Ribble for the municipal year 2023/24

Revealing what he described as “tendencies” towards dyslexia and dyspraxia, he added that it was at the age of 17 that he began the lengthy process of teaching himself “to hold a pen and write legibly”.

“[At school], I went straight to class five, set five - 'GTTs' [or] general twits and twerps, as it was known by classmates and teachers. Leaving school I had a reading age of about 10, with two CSCs - technical drawing and religious knowledge - so the world was my oyster,” Cllr Lomax said, before proudly adding that he had never been unemployed.

His true talents began to emerge when - during 20 years working in an outdoor pursuit shop in Preston - he started to volunteer as a youth worker.

That move led to him getting a job in a children's home in Leyland and later with Lancashire County Council, in the authority's family support team, trying to keep children off the at-risk register and working with those already on it.

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Yet he still seemed reluctant to see in himself the leadership qualities that to others were by now obvious - initially turning down requests to become a union rep and also a councillor, before eventually “they wore me down”.

He will be supported in his mayoral year by his wife of 36 years, Kim, who will be his mayoress and with whom he has three children. His nominated charities are St. Catherine's Hospice, Tender Nursing Care and TippyToes.

Cllr Lomax ended a moving speech - in which his voice cracked with emotion on several occasions - by declaring that you "should know where you come from”.

“Mum, Dad and father-in-law Bob…[we’ve] done alright, haven’t we?” he concluded.