Councillor Howard Marriner, who represents Barnehurst Ward, became the London Borough of Bexley's 51st Mayor at the Council's Annual Meeting on Wednesday 11 June 2014.
His wife, Dianne Marriner, will be his Mayoress. Howard is the 75th person to hold the title of Mayor of Bexley, since the old Borough received its charter in 1937.
Born in Enfield, Middlesex in 1946, Howard first moved to the Borough in 1950 as a four year old child. His father, who was serving in the Merchant Navy, had been promoted and the family bought their first house in Erith. Howard was first educated at Belmont County Primary School then, at age 11 years, at Erith Grammar School in Avenue Road. After he had gained his GCE 'O' Level qualifications, Howard transferred to Bromley Grammar School for Boys, studying Geography, History and Economics, successfully gaining two 'A' levels.
After some soul searching, Howard decided that university was not for him at that stage and following a holiday job in a merchant bank in the City, he was offered a permanent job at Samuel Montagu and Co, Merchant Bankers. Although he enjoyed his start in 'working life', Howard quickly realised that a bowler hat and umbrella were not going to be his permanent work accessories. At 18 years of age, he was offered a post as a clerk with the Australia and New Zealand Bank in London and the die was cast for a career in banking, but he knew that he wanted something more than just a commuter ride in to London every morning.
Howard recalls: "I had already moved back to my first bank and I was standing on the platform one morning waiting for my usual commuter train, which was running late. I was reading my newspaper, standing between two very smart city gentlemen, wearing their uniforms of morning suit and bowler hats and my eye turned to an advert in my paper, which read: 'Your Place in the Sun - Come and join us in the Bank of West Africa!' I knew there and then that travel and work abroad was what I wanted to do with my life."
After a successful application, three months training in London and on the day that the Nigerian Civil War commenced, Howard found himself on a flight bound for Kano, northern Nigeria, where he spent almost three years with only one return trip to the UK. Howard remembers his time there as very special and with some difficult moments witnessing life in a war zone. Following promotion and transfer to Geidam in north east Nigeria, Howard found himself near Lake Tchad where he made wonderful friendships and learnt much about negotiation with people.
Howard married Dianne in 1970 at St Thomas More Catholic Church in Long Lane, Bexleyheath. They had known each other since childhood. Dianne was born in Crayford and had lived in the Borough all of her life. Their honeymoon in Paris for a week was followed by a few days at home. Following a surprise telegram, both set off to Port Harcourt, south east Nigeria, where Howard was Deputy Manager of a very large branch. The bank had been closed due to the Biafran conflict and it was Howard's job to get the bank 'up and running' again. Life for the young Howard and Dianne was different to what had been the norm in the UK. Living in a small apartment, within the bank compound, Dianne quickly learned the ways of a bank official. They both remember their time there working with some very inexperienced staff as a challenge together with being a wonderful experience.
Further promotions took the couple across other parts of Nigeria and in 1972, following a brief stay back in the UK and the birth of their daughter, Katharine, they returned to Lagos, this time as manager of the training department, then of a series of branches elsewhere. It was in 1975 that Howard was appointed Company Secretary of Standard Bank Swaziland and the next phase of their travelling life began with five years in "that beautiful country".
Their son Richard had been born in 1974 and the travelling continued. Spells in Hong Kong, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland followed, before their eventual return to the UK, where they had bought an house in Bexleyheath.
Howard spent the next 11 years in roles within the City before retiring from full-time work and taking up freelance appointments as a consultant, specialising in 'anti-money laundering'.
Howard stood as a candidate at Bexley's local elections in May 2006 and was duly elected. He stood again in Barnehurst in May 2010 and was re-elected to the Council for that ward. He has served on both the Audit and Planning Committees and Overview and Scrutiny Committees including Finance and Corporate Services, Public Realm Management and Regeneration and Housing. He was a Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society and a member and staunch supporter of Round Tables in the UK and in the African continent. He is a Past President of the Rotary Club of Crayford.
Howard and Dianne have four grandchildren, Imogen (10) and Edward (7), who live with their parents in Melbourne, Australia and Isaac (7) and Oliver (5) who live with their parents at Kings Hill near West Malling. The travelling days are not over yet, as Howard and Dianne travel as often as they can to visit the family in Australia as well as relatives and friends elsewhere in the world.
Of his election as the Borough's 51st Mayor, Howard is honoured by the appointment. He said: "I am overwhelmed by the honour I feel, having been given this opportunity to serve not only the residents in Barnehurst, but across Bexley. I want to meet as many people as I can and engage and work with the Borough's organisations, such as Rotary, Round Table, Inner Wheel and the Lions to raise awareness of their good work locally. I want to support them to raise funds for their charities. In addition, I want to work with the Greenwich and Bexley Hospice, because I understand just how much they do for Bexley's residents in their hour of need."
Howard has appointed Cllr Ross Downing to be his Deputy Mayor and Councillor Alan Downing, her husband, to be the Deputy Mayor's Consort. The Mayor has appointed The Reverend Joe Hogarth as his Chaplain.