Cllr Sybil Camsey, who represents Brampton Ward, became the London Borough of Bexley's 52nd Mayor at the Council's annual meeting on Wednesday 20 May.
Sybil was born in Wilmslow, Cheshire in 1944, but spent her early years in Bridgwater, Somerset, before moving with her family to Hastings aged three years - a place she loves and where she returns to whenever her busy life and schedule allows.
Her father was a Congregational Minister, so home moves were expected and at 12 years, Sybil and the family moved to North Dulwich, London, where she settled until her late teens. Sybil had decided quite young that she wanted to teach as a career and at 18 years, she relocated to Dudley, Worcestershire, to start her training on what would become a lifetime's work and vocation teaching children. Sybil said: "I have been so fortunate to work with families and children who I have taught, watched them grow up, then had the privilege of teaching their children also."
Her first 'real' teaching role was when she was 21, at a large Comprehensive School in Gypsy Hill, south-east London. She took a short break in a completely different role during her early 20s to work at St Thomas's Hospital, London, but Sybil knew in her heart that teaching was her first love and in January 1967, she took up a position for one term as a temporary teacher at Barnehurst Junior School - a move that was to last some 42 years. Sybil quite literally worked her way up through the education system, remaining at Barnehurst Junior School, first becoming Deputy Head Teacher, then eventually the Head Teacher, where she remained for 14 years until her retirement in 2009.
Retirement meant that she could concentrate on the other interests in her life, such as music. Sybil plays cornet in the Bexley Band, but she can also play piano, church organ and the guitar, on which she is self-taught. She actually learnt to play the cornet with some of the school children in her care. Sybil practices at the Bird College of Music, Sidcup, and this has provided some of her inspiration when deciding who she wanted to try and support throughout her year as Mayor of Bexley. Combining her life's work with children and her love of music, Sybil plans to work closely with Bexley SNAP and the Bird College of Music to provide support through music opportunities for children, who reside in the borough and live daily with an array of varying disabilities. It is her belief that music can and does stimulate children in so many ways and she hopes to bring some of the joy experienced by other children to those who might not normally get that chance because of their learning needs or illness.
Sybil thoroughly enjoys playing in concerts with the Bexley Band, in and around the borough, but she also finds time to read her favourite books, which are normally thrillers. She is also an avid Manchester United football fan.
Feeling that she still had something to give back to the community she had served for so long, Sybil successfully stood as a councillor for the Brampton Ward in 2010. Of her election as the Borough's 52nd Mayor, Sybil said that she feels humbled by her appointment. "I have always enjoyed working with, and meeting people and sharing in their experiences and being a Councillor has taught me so much about our wonderful borough. Being elected as Mayor will provide me with opportunities to join our residents in their events and to support them in any way I can. I'm really looking forward to meeting former pupils and their families.
"I know that the role is challenging and extremely hard work, but I am determined not to let anyone down and I promise to do the job as well as I possibly can. I am excited at this wonderful opportunity to learn new things and experience this once in a lifetime chance. I know that I will enjoy it."
Looking back to her childhood, Sybil owns a holiday home on the south coast, close to where she grew up, but understandably, she probably will get very little time to spend there over the coming 12 months. Likewise, Sybil's other passion of visiting and studying the World War One and Two battlefields around France and Belgium will also be put on hold, but she describes her election as Mayor of Bexley as "An honour. I feel like a child at Christmas time with a surprise present - I cannot wait to open it to see what's inside".
Sybil has appointed her sister, Mrs Mavis Turvey to be the Mayor's Escort. Cllr David Hurt to be her Deputy Mayor and his wife, Eleanor Hurt, to be the Deputy Mayoress. She has also appointed The Reverend Andrew White, Chaplain to the Armed Forces in Bexley as her Chaplain.