I have been a local Councillor for the Wardley and Leam Lane area since 1976, and it was an honour to become Gateshead's Mayor in 1986-87. I have been Labour Group Secretary since May 1998, hold the position of General Secretary for the National Association of Councillors, and am also one of the Directors of Newcastle Airport, Vice Chair of The Gateshead Housing Company and a member of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Civil Defence Authority.
Before being a Councillor, I served in the Army from 1956 to 1964 as a boy soldier and then 15/19 Hussars. Since then, I have had a number of jobs, ranging from a metal polisher to a postman. I have had a long and rewarding association with War On Want, serving for a number of years as a fundraiser for those less fortunate than us in the developing countries.
I am a member of the Council's Cabinet which meets regularly in public to make a range of day to day decisions on Council Services. The portfolio for which I am responsible is Community Safety and I also support the Culture and Environment portfolios, as well as Sustainable Communities West and Inner West.
In addition to my Cabinet role, I am also the Council Champion for Older People. My role is to ensure that older people have the opportunity to remain active and that the community is able to benefit from their skills and experience, and are able to live as independently as possible.
Previously, I have also held the Cabinet Portfolios for Lifelong Learning, when I was focused on ensuring that local people had the opportunity to learn throughout their lives, and Housing, during which time I actively and successfully campaigned on behalf of Gateshead Council to introduce a registration scheme for private landlords. I also held the portfolio for Adult Social Care and Health.
I headed a campaign against air guns and successfully changed legislation on the age that they can be purchased from 14 to 18 years. I still believe that they should be banned from sale to everyone.
I am married with three children - Rosheen, Christopher and John and have seven grandchildren - Yana, Francis, Jordon, Joe, Lewis, Lily and Leo, plus my daughter-in-law Donna and John's partner Joanne.
I hope to continue as a Councillor in this excellent Council which provides services that are admired throughout the country.I was honoured to be awarded an MBE for Services to Local Government in the Birthday Honours list in June 2006.