Standing ovation for Arun’s new alderman

C111037-1_JPOS_bog_alderman'Alderman of Arun District Council, Sylvia Olliver.
C111037-1_JPOS_bog_alderman'Alderman of Arun District Council, Sylvia Olliver.

A standing ovation was given to a former Bersted councillor after she received a rare honour.

The political parties united to applaud Sylvia Olliver at the end of the ceremony to award her the title of honorary alderman of Arun District Council.

They had unanimously voted for her to become only the tenth individual to occupy the role since the council was formed in 1974.

She was presented with a badge of office and a framed certificate by the council’s chairman, Dennis Wilde.

Mrs Olliver said: “It’s a very proud evening. I understand it’s Sussex Day and, as someone born and breed in Sussex, I am doubly proud of this.

“I have had such interesting times in this chamber. You represent different ideas but I have always found there to be a great deal of friendship here.

“I am very proud to have served among you. I do miss it. There’s no getting away from it.

“Thank you for your patience with me at times and the various laughs we have shared and the jokes we have had. It’s been a real pleasure.”

Gillian Brown, the council’s leader, paid a fulsome tribute to Mrs Olliver.

She said: “Sylvia Olliver has been an outstanding example of all a ward councillor should be.

“She was always just a phone call away and showed determination and dedication in sorting out all and any problems on behalf of the people she represents.

“Nothing was too much trouble for her.”

Dr James Walsh, a former Liberal Democrat colleague of Mrs Olliver, described her as a passionate community politician. She was always loyal to her residents and her home town.

“Sylvia Olliver has quite a remarkable record and one of which she should justly be proud,” he said.

The devotion of Mrs Olliver, 80, of Larch Close, North Bersted, to serving her area saw her enjoy the unusual distinction of being a councillor on four local authorities at once.

She began as a Liberal Democrat and switched to an Independent.

She became an Arun district councillor for Marine ward in Bognor Regis in a 1990 byelection.

She was re-elected in 1991 and 1995 before she switched wards to Bersted to be elected in 2003 and 2007 before she stood down last month.

She was also a member of Bognor Regis Town Council for 17 years and served as the town mayor for four of them until she relinquished her seat.

She served on Bersted Parish Council between 1986 and 2007 and added to this record of public service with ten years as a county councillor in the Nineties.