Normally the outgoing town mayor would hand over the reins to their successor at the council chamber in Station Road, with a celebration buffet for invited guests afterwards.
But national restrictions on mass gatherings put in place to control the spread of coronavirus led to this month’s mayor making moving online. Audience members were able to view proceedings streamed live on YouTube.
Outgoing mayor Mark Green was unable to attend the virtual annual meeting as he was in hospital. But his wife, outgoing mayoress Kristan Green, was part of the online audience.
Councillor Jonathan Powell was elected as the new town mayor for Stone. After he donned the chain of office he signed the declaration of office on screen, witnessed by fellow councillors on Zoom.
He said: “In 2019 I was very honoured to be elected as a councillor for Walton North ward. I am now overwhelmed to be chosen to be the next mayor of Stone.
“Our town has a great community and vibrant energy and a wonderful friendly atmosphere. I hope I can add to this during my term as mayor, as we hopefully start to see the end of the last 14 months of uncertainty.
“To start I would like to name two local organisations as my chosen charities; the Stone Community Hub, who do invaluable work on a weekly basis but whose work during the pandemic and lockdown with the food bank was amazing. I would also like to pick Chuckle Productions, who do amazing work with physically, mentally and emotionally disabled children and young people though the arts.”
Councillor Powell was born in Nairobi, Kenya, where his father served in the British Army. His family later went to Germany before arriving in England and moving to his father’s home town of Stafford.
Councillor Powell also spent time in the army before attending Wolverhampton University. He went into the events industry and moved to Stone in 1999. He currently works at JCB’s Staffordshire headquarters.
Councillor Jill Hood said: “I think we’re in for some fun this mayoral year.
“Jonathan has always been an active member of Stone’s community and enjoyed coaching at Stone Rugby Club for seven years, working with many age groups. He has three grown up children and his wife Nancy will be mayoress. They’re both proud to be given the opportunity to become mayor and mayoress of Stone Town.
“He specifically focuses on Stone’s community, environment and inclusivity. He firmly believes that treating people as the strongest resource of our community is essential.”
Councillor Kerry Dawson was elected as deputy mayor. Councillor Hood described her as kind, considerate and hard-working.
Councillor Dawson is married to husband Lee and has three children. She is band master for Stone Scout and Guide Band.