Leeds woman to be Lady Mayoress of Manchester

By Jessica Elgot, June 10, 2010
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Sheila Saunders with Manchester Lord Mayor and long-time friend Councillor Mark Hackett

Sheila Saunders with Manchester Lord Mayor and long-time friend Councillor Mark Hackett

The role of Manchester's new Lady Mayoress may seem an unlikely one for the Leeds Jewish Housing Association chief executive.

But it will be a case of coming home for Sheila Saunders, who although having lived in Leeds for nearly 30 years, was born on the other side of the Pennines.

Ms Saunders took up the invitation from Lord Mayor and long-time friend Councillor Mark Hackett and will accompany him to events including a royal garden party and be involved in charity work.

"Mark and I have been in each other's lives for nearly 40 years now," she said. "We've always been in touch, and given each other advice - he's been a constant close chum. When he first was campaigning to be a councillor, I told him that I'd always fancied being Mrs Mayor."

When the opportunity arose, "of course I was still up for it. People really value the mayor, he's so important to welfare organisations and charities. When the mayor turns up to something you have organised, you know you are doing well." While she has no plans to return permanently, Ms Saunders is enjoying rediscovering her home city.

"It's a real honour to represent Manchester. I hope to stay firmly involved in welfare and to support Jewish and women's charities."

In an unconnected move, Ms Saunders, 65, will retire from the LJHA in July. She is also a former chief executive of Leeds Jewish Welfare Board.

    Last updated: 1:39pm, June 10 2010