Inclusion is important to Buckingham’s new mayor, Lisa O’Donoghue.
Pictured at last week’s Mayor Making ceremony, Mrs O’Donoghue, aged 42, spoke to the Advertiser about some of the issues she hopes to get to grips with during her term of office.
She said: “Being elected Mayor of Buckingham feels surreal.
“Knowing I have the faith of my fellow councillors is a wonderful feeling.”
“I know this year will be exciting and a great experience and one day I can turn around to my great great grandchildren and tell them I was once the mayor of a beautiful market town called Buckingham.”
Originally from London, Mrs O’Donoghue moved to Buckingham 11 years ago in search of a better life for her two sons, now aged 23 and 17.
She has been a Buckingham town councillor for four years and is employed part time by the management committee of Buckingham Youth Centre.
She also volunteers for the Connections drop-in service at Buckingham Youth Centre, which offers advice to young people on issues including education, careers and sexual health.
Accessibility for all is one of the issues she feels passionate about.
And with town councillor Christine Strain-Clark, she is currently looking into disability access across Buckingham.
Mrs O’Donoghue understands all too well the importance of drop kerbs, uneven paving slabs, unwelcome steps and slippery slopes, as she herself has impaired mobility.
She suffers from peripheral neuropathy, which causes her chronic pain and numbness in her legs, feet and hands, as a result of intensive chemotherapy six years ago.
She believes her positivity and strong mindedness are one of the reasons she survived cancer.
Mrs O’Donoghue said: “The one thing people with disabilities don’t like is to have to ask. You don’t want to have to keep asking to do something that a normal able-bodied person can do.”
And she added: “It’s not just about disabled people because, if you’re struggling with a wheelchair, you’re also struggling with a pram. It’s looking at what will make life easier for people in general.
“But we are in a town with listed buildings and there’s only so much those buildings can do.”
Another of Mrs O’Donoghue’s missions is to revive the Buckingham Youth Council, which she was instrumental in setting up to represent the views of the town’s 11 to 18-year-olds.
She said: “The youth council is very dear to my heart.
“Working with young people, when you ask them what they want to do, it’s very different from what adults want them to do.”
Sadly, only four of the 17 seats on the youth council are currently occupied – three of them by representatives from the Royal Latin School.
Mrs O’Donoghue said: “We’ve got nobody from the Buckingham School.
“We do need to generate more numbers and that is going to be something I intend to push ahead on because I don’t want to see the youth council wind up from lack of interest.
“They are there to be the voice of the young people of the town.
“If they have ideas and want to be heard, there is a conduit there for them.”
The youth council is given a budget by the town council, and last year used the money to put on the town’s first skate park competition.”
Another skate park competition for BMX, skateboard and scooter is taking place on Saturday, June 28, with a judge from the Bucks Boarding Centre in Milton Keynes and a demonstration from talented Milton Keynes skateboarder Alex DeCunha.
Anyone who wants to help out, teach tricks or do demonstrations should contact Mrs O’Donoghue at Cllr.ODonoghue@gmail.com
Contact the youth council via @BuckinghamYouth or www.facebook.com/BuckinghamYouthCouncil