A KEIGHLEY councillor has spoken of her “huge honour” at serving the residents of Bradford district as Lord Mayor.

Doreen Lee handed over the chains of office this month after an unprecedented two years as Bradford’s civic head.

The Keighley East councillor said serving as mayor had been “one of the best experiences of my life”.

But she said there had also been much sadness, for her and people across the district, brought about by the pandemic.

“To represent all the residents of the Bradford district has been a huge honour,” said Cllr Lee.

“I could never imagine back in 2019 when I started my year of office what would lie ahead and that it would be filled with such happiness and also such sadness.

“I carried out my duties as Lord Mayor for an unprecedented two years due to the pandemic. And during the second year we managed to support our local communities and key events by creating videos and online celebrations, services and memorials.

“It has been an incredible time. I have met some wonderful members of all our communities that make the Bradford district the wonderful place that it is.

“I welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the city and attended so many happy events, but there have been lots of sad things along the way.

“We have had to say goodbye to some friends and colleagues and support our residents as they have also had to cope with illness, grief and lockdown and the many impacts that this has had on their lives.

“I want to thank everyone in our district for their support – to me and for supporting one another.

“I will never forget my experiences, they will bring me so much joy. And I wish every success to the new Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr Shabir Hussain.”

Colleagues have paid glowing tribute to Cllr Lee for her work over the past two years.

Bradford Council leader, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, said she had been “a great ambassador” for the city and district “at a time when we all needed her the most”.

“She is rooted in Keighley and has always been a great champion of the place but for the last two years we are grateful to Keighley for having let Cllr Lee serve the district beyond as well,” said Cllr Hinchcliffe.

“She has such a sense of fun and sparkle that she has brought to all her engagements and meetings. She has the ability to do this in person and also online when the pandemic demanded it.

“Cllr Lee has enjoyed the best of times as Lord Mayor but also been with us during the most challenging of times, bringing the district together.

“She has managed the joy but also the sadness of her mayoralty with her great personality and strength of character.

“I want to thank her on behalf of the council and residents for the important role she has played – and I know she will look forward to continuing her hard work with her fellow ward councillors in Keighley to do the best for local people she represents.”

Tribute is also paid by Cllr Lee’s Keighley East colleagues.

“We are so very proud of Doreen,” said Cllr Caroline Firth.

“She made a fantastic Lord Mayor and absolutely shone in the role.

“She brings a sense of fun to everything she does and is able to make people feel at ease, which I’m sure have been invaluable when she’s been meeting people.

“Doreen has been in Keighley at various events when restrictions allowed, then made several videos to ensure she could still serve the district during lockdown.”

And Cllr Malcolm Slater said: “Since handing over the reins to Cllr Shabir Hussain, it’s great to have Doreen back full-time. We’ve exciting plans for the ward so there’s plenty for us all to do!”

During her term as mayor, Cllr Lee attended numerous events in Keighley – many of them held before the coronavirus outbreak.

They ranged from visits to Keighley Cougars, Cliffe Castle activities, the Keighley & Airedale Business Awards, the Keighley Great Get Together and the Worksafe Project to Pride events, a Keighley civic service, a youth summit, amateur theatre productions, a schools’ Fairtrade event, a Girlguiding service and a celebration of International Women’s Day.

For her charity appeal, Cllr Lee chose to support Child Bereavement UK and a Pot of Gold fund.

As a result, around £15,000 will be donated to Child Bereavement UK – which supports families and educates professionals, both when a baby or child dies or is dying, and when a child is facing bereavement.

The organisation offers a range of free support services to youngsters, their families and carers. Every year the charity trains more than 10,000 professionals, helping them to better understand and meet the needs of grieving families.

The Pot of Gold fund was set-up to provide grants for small groups, organisations and projects across Bradford district.

Over the past two years, £9,750 has been distributed to 27 applicants.

Beneficiaries were Bradford West Police and Community Football, Keighley Cougars, Bradford School Football Association, Steeton Golden Oldies Sing & Smile UK, Canterbury Imagine, BHT Early Learning Education & Training, Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, Sparkle (The Friends of Delius), Down Syndrome Training & Support Services Ltd, University of Bradford Union Choices 4 Project, Haworth Riding for the Disabled, Bumble Bees mixed ability rugby, East Morton Community Shop, Baildon Imaginary Library, Keighley Cougars Foundation, Keighley District Scouts, Bingley Remembrance Group, Bradford Cathedral, Bradford Disability Club, Scholemoor Beacon CIO, Bracken Bank & District Community Association, Bradford Street Kitchen, BCCS Assist, The Welcome Project, The Ear Trust and Bradford Flower Club. Also, a £1,000 donation was given to the Bradford Poppy Appeal.