Councillor Eileen Pallen, who represents Barnehurst Ward, became the London Borough of Bexley's 53rd Mayor at the Council's annual meeting on Wednesday 18 May.
Eileen's husband, Mark, will be the Mayor's Escort. Eileen is the 77th person to hold the title of Mayor of Bexley, since the old Borough received its charter in 1937.
Eileen was born in in Edgware Middlesex in 1960 to Eileen and Peter McDonnell. The eldest of four children, Eileen has two brothers Henry and Michael and a sister Marguerite.
Eileen attended St Joseph's primary school, Wealdstone, Harrow, Middlesex and then Sacred Heart Grammar school for girls also in Wealdstone. On leaving school, Eileen joined the Midland Bank, working in a number of business areas over 26 years and making some firm friends along the way.
Eileen left the Bank, which by now had become HSBC and worked for a number of organisations including an anti-bullying charity. She currently works freelance for a company that conducts bullying and harassment investigations.
When Eileen married her husband Mark 25 years ago, she moved to Barnehurst and their home and roots are firmly here in Bexley.
Prior to becoming a councillor, Eileen was a trustee and vice chairman at Crossroads Care, a local voluntary organisation whose aim is to support people with care needs and their carers in their home or on outside activities. This role provided her with a very good insight into the marvellous work undertaken in the Borough by our voluntary organisations and our volunteers.
She has also taken part in the Summer Reading challenge in the local libraries for the last six years, during the summer holidays as a volunteer, and considers it an absolute pleasure to be able to present certificates to children and young people later in the year that she has got to know during the challenge in July and August.
Eileen was first elected as a Bexley Councillor in 2010 in Crayford ward, and was re-elected in 2014 to her home ward of Barnehurst, although she very much sees herself as a 'Bexley Councillor'. She is standing down from her current role as the borough's Cabinet Member with responsibility for Adult Social Services to take on her new position as Mayor of the Council.
Eileen said: "It has been a privilege to work with the organisations, residents and officers, who support and look after our more vulnerable older residents, people with learning disabilities and people with physical disabilities I have learnt so much these past two years and I know that this will stand me in good stead throughout my 'year' as Mayor."
Her friends and colleagues feel her key qualities are her honest approach to things, supportive attitude and her hard work ethic. She feels that she always puts 100% into everything she takes on and will give the same level of commitment to the Mayor's role.
Her charities during her 'year' will be tackling loneliness in older people and also supporting 'Alzheimer's Bexley'.
She has spent a substantial amount of time looking into practical ways to tackle loneliness in older people during her time as Cabinet member and looks forward to continuing that work whilst Mayor.
She has long had an interest in and an admiration for the work the Alzheimer's Society undertakes and is a Dementia friend's champion. Eileen said: "I will consider it a successful year if I have highlighted and raised awareness around both these issues, making people aware of what services are available and what practical things can be done to help and support people who need it."
Eileen is delighted to have been nominated for her new role. Eileen said: "I believe it is an honour and a privilege to become the 53rd Mayor of Bexley and I am very excited at the opportunities to meet our residents, support their events and have lots of new experiences. It is a responsibility I am delighted to accept and I will carry out my duties to the very best of my ability.
Eileen has appointed Councillor Val Clark to be her Deputy Mayor and Val's son, Jason Clark to be the Deputy Mayoress' Escort.
The Mayor has appointed Father Michael Jones of St John Vianney Parish Church, Bexleyheath as her Chaplain.