Boston's new Mayor is former award-winning gardener
Boston's 479th Mayor is a man who is committed to and passionate about the local community.
This year he aims to do his best to promote Boston and enhance its reputation. Paul is humbled and privileged to have been elected the borough's first citizen and, in typical fashion, will give his all to meet the promise he has made to do his best for the people of Boston.
Paul (58) has made Boston his home for the past 20-plus years, but his "Brummie" accent gives away his beginnings - born, raised and educated in Birmingham. His family was originally from Ireland, coming to England during the potato famine, and arriving in Birmingham to work for BSA (British Small Arms) before they began building motorcycles.
He has a brother, but both parents are now dead. He speaks with obvious affection about his father - a major influence on his life in terms of career and politics. Paul's father was a youth and community worker in Birmingham and a lifelong socialist. Paul accompanied his father on some of his youth and community work duties, a career path he was later to follow himself.
He also shared his father's interest in gardening and won his first gardening trophy when aged just 11 - coincidentally in 1966 when England was busy winning a cup of its own. He went on to win the children's gardening cup three times in total. He has qualifications in horticulture and at one time thought about a career in landscaping.
Paul with his roses and the cup he won for gardening when he was aged just 11
But, following his youth and community work and politics studies at Birmingham University, he began a lifetime of civic service. His work has seen him at the sharp end of many of the hard-edged challenges now faced in Boston. He has worked with many people facing difficulties such as homelessness and issues around unemployment with national bodies in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and London.
Paul came to Boston in 1991 as a community worker in the borough council's housing department, transferring to Boston Mayflower housing association in 1999 where he is one of their customer participation officers. From 1993 to 2005 Paul was a Lincolnshire County Councillor, and vice chairman of education. He helped develop nursery education in the county. He said: "I have a particular interest in education. I am dyslexic and always keen to support adult learning."
He was first a borough councillor from 2003 to 2007, being portfolio for the voluntary sector and communities from 2006-2007, and was then re-elected in 2011 to represent Skirbeck ward. He has twice stood for Parliament in 2005 and 2010.
Paul has been married twice before, meeting his present wife Pam in 2006. Pam, 59, has a son and daughter from her previous marriage and now has a granddaughter, nearly six. Both her parents were born in Scotland. Her father lives on the Orkney Isles. She grew up in Dumfries. After completing nursing training in Scotland she moved with her first husband and young children to Peterborough in 1988 to work in a psychiatric unit. She now works as a psychiatric nurse assessor in the Greater Eastern Midlands commissioning support unit as a case manager working mainly with the elderly and especially those suffering with dementia.
Paul debates fiercely in the council chamber. He said: "I have always been involved in topical issues. It's often easy to see what we need to do and why we need to do it. Finding the solutions is the difficult part. We do have local challenges, but they are not insurmountable. I say what I feel and I will be challenging, but I won't be rude. I have been appointed by the people of Skirbeck and it is really important to me that I do well for them. I have to maximise my moments of opportunity," he said.
As well as working full time for Mayflower and representing his ward at the borough council, Paul is also a member of the East Midlands Councils, chair of the strategic migration partnership and is on the national LGA migration task force. He is particularly proud of recent national recognition for Boston with two top scrutiny awards for its work around immigration. Paul chaired the special cross-party task and finish group set up to investigate issues around population change, but says that "this is just the start of the process - not the end".
Paul has chosen two charities for his mayoral year - Boston Citizens Advice Bureau and Boston Salvation Army. He is keen to raise people's awareness of both organisations and to provide them with some well-deserved extra funds. Paul believes that this year is about supporting vulnerable people who are finding it difficult to manage within the economic challenges we have within our communities.
Unfortunately in 2002 Paul suffered a heart attack, ironically just before he was due to take part in a major run, so these days he doesn't run marathons but he does go to the local gym most days to keep fit. He relaxes by holidaying with Pam in both this country and abroad and both enjoy a pint at Boston's Moon under the Water or the Waterfront; and entertaining family and friends at home with a barbecue in their well-kept garden.
Cheers! Relaxing at home in their garden