Express & Star

'I am part of a famous funfair family and now the greatest show will be seen in Walsall'

‘The Greatest Showman,’ has been chosen as Walsall’s civic leader for the next municipal year.

Walsall Mayor Anthony Harris and Mayoress Christina Harris. Pic: Walsall Council

Anthony Harris, who has been a councillor for the Aldridge North and Walsall Wood ward for more than 20 years, was voted in as the borough’s new Mayor.

Councillor Harris, who was born in Southampton in 1940, has been the head of the legendary fairground business Pat Collins (Funfairs) Ltd for the last 40 years.

Walsall Mayor Anthony Harris and Mayoress Christina Harris. Pic: Walsall Council

And donning the robes and chains means the grandfather also follows in the footsteps of fellow showman Pat Collins who was a Walsall councillor, becoming Mayor in 1938. He also sat as a Liberal MP between 1922 and 1924.

The father-of-three sons’ wife Christina will be Mayoress for the year. Councillor Louise Harrison was elected as Deputy Mayor at a meeting on Monday.

Mayor Anthony Harris. PIC: Walsall Council

Since being elected in 2004, Councillor Harris has served on several committees and was most recently the cabinet member for personnel and business support.

He said: “Having had the opportunity doing many wonderful things as a travelling showman, I must say today is the pinnacle of my career as a showman.

“I feel so proud and humbled to have been given this opportunity to represent our diverse community of nearly 300,000 residents as Mayor of Walsall.

“A responsibility that I shall take very seriously indeed. Today is an event that would not have happened without the support of family and friends.

“I am grateful that my wife Christina has been my rock, always supportive offering sage and timely advice and never a wrong word.

“Also my boys and my grandchildren who have offered to me the time to carry out my duties as a councillor for over 20 years.

“To be in this privileged position as Mayor has given me and the whole family of showmen a sense of pride not seen since 1938 when Pat Collins was Mayor of Walsall.”

He also thanked councillors past and present as well as officers for their support throughout his career.

Leader Mike Bird said: “I’ve known Anthony since he was first elected and to be fair, he has been a very active and indeed vocal member of this council.

“He believes in tradition, respect and integrity. It gives me great pleasure to see you and your good lady as the Mayor and Mayoress of Walsall Council.”

Ward colleague Keith Sears added: “I’ve known him for 20 years and during that time I’ve seen the hard work Anthony has done for charities and good causes in the communities.

“He does a lot of fund-raising for charities close to his heart and I know he will be an excellent Mayor of Walsall.”

And Councillor Garry Perry said: “Could this be the Greatest Showman?

“I think there are not many people in this room that hasn’t been touched by your offer and generosity, whether it’s raising money for charities or holding community events where your family business can be part of it when that need arose.

“You’ve always been true to your word. You are an individual who holds integrity in all of the decisions you make. You hold it in high regard and will carry that forward as Mayor.

“Equally members need to be on their guard because Anthony is a stickler for tradition.

“He will endear you towards him but if you do not show the correct respect for the office holder as the first citizen as that King’s representative, I have no doubt that the gavel will be banging.”

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