Speaking up for the city

It is an exclusive club - one which is keen to promote the proud City of Norwich and all that it has to offer.

As one civic year comes to an end today and another one begins, here we have members of an association dedicated to speaking up for Norwich.

You may think that the City of Norwich Civic Association has been around for a couple of centuries or more, but in fact it was only formed five years ago.

And it is more than just a 'club' for former Lord Mayors, Sheriffs and their partners and consorts –it is an organisation which promotes Norwich and all that it has to offer.

A city with a long and proud history and an exciting future.

Norwich has been represented, and in the past controlled by, mayors, then lord mayors and sheriffs for hundreds of years.

Today, the Lord Mayor is a member of the council while the sheriff has no political links.

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They attend hundreds of events every year on behalf of the city.

All over Norwich there are organisations and individuals doing wonderful work in the community. A visit from the Lord Mayor and Sheriff can help lift their profile. They are your ambassadors.

Now, when they leave office, they can continue to make a contribution to city life by becoming members of the civic association – an organisation which doesn't cost the public a penny. It is completely self-supporting.

The idea to form the association came from former Lord Mayor Michael Banham, who said while there had been an organisation for sheriffs locally and nationally, there was nothing for lord mayors.

'There is so much we can do, both to preserve the tradition of these important offices, but also to represent Norwich and do all we can to promote the city and all that it has to offer,' said Michael, chairman of the association.

'I have lived in Norwich all my life. I worked at Nestle's for many years, but it wasn't until I was Lord Mayor that I discovered just how much good work was going on behind the scenes,' he added.

Men and women who have held the offices still have a role to play in city life – and joining this association will help the cause.

'Membership is growing all the time; we now have about 55 ex-lord mayors, sheriffs and their partners and consorts. People who are proud to have represented Norwich and want to promote, preserve and enhance the civic offices,' said Michael.

'We are strictly non-political. We are a Norwich association and want to support and promote the city in any way we can,' he said.

It has been a hectic and rewarding year for the outgoing Lord Mayor Jenny Lay and Sheriff Chris Higgins – from today, and for the next year, the chains of office will now be worn by new Lord Mayor Ralph Guyton and Sheriff John Jennings.