Cllr Nick O’Hare, who represents Blendon and Penhill Ward, became the London Borough of Bexley’s 58th Mayor at the Council’s annual meeting on Wednesday 25 May.
The new Mayoress is his daughter Ms Natalie Ford. Cllr O’Hare is the 70th person to hold the title of Mayor of Bexley since the old Borough of Bexley received its charter in 1937. This is the second time that Cllr O’Hare has been elected Mayor of the Borough. He first served in that role back in the years 2008/2009, having been the Deputy Mayor the previous year.
Cllr O’Hare was born on 8 April 1958 to Greek parents. He attended Greek schools and church and never thought for a minute that his future life would take him to England and Bexley.
We were a poor family, and it was a big decision for my mother and I, when my Greek aunt Lily - who had moved to England when she married an English engineer, Michael O’Hare - offered to look after and raise me in this country. I was only 13 years old when my mother and I arrived in St Albans, Hertfordshire and I did not speak a word of English.”
After a few months, Cllr O’ Hare’s mother went home. He says:
It was a lonely time, but England was everything I imagined it would be. Beautiful countryside and wonderful people, but I missed home.”
It was not long before Cllr O’Hare was legally adopted by Michael and Lily, but his adoptive parents did not spoil him at all. Within weeks of his arrival, he found himself doing a paper round at 6am every morning. At his first interview for a school, the head teacher asked him if he would like to learn a foreign language. Without any thought, he replied “English would be a good start, Sir!”
The family decided to move to Wimbledon, Southwest London. He soon applied for a job as a baker’s boy but was unsuccessful. Not to be put off, he noticed a sign in the ladies' hairdressing salon next door, which was looking for a young person to wash people’s hair. It was not long before the resident stylist realised his potential and he was offered a three-year apprenticeship. He grabbed the opportunity and quickly excelled in his chosen career.
On graduation and armed with his diploma from the National Hairdressing Federation, Cllr O’Hare worked seven days a week for five years, eventually saving enough money to buy outright and open his first hairdresser's salon in Worcester Park in April 1981. By this time, he had met his future wife, Maria, who was Greek Cypriot. They were married in July 1981 in the Greek Church in Camberwell. Their first daughter, Natalie, was born in November 1983 and it is Natalie who now becomes the Borough’s Mayoress. In 1985 they decided to sell their first business and bought a shop and hairdressing business in Wickham Lane, Welling. Their second daughter, Leah, was born in February 1986. Both children attended St. Stephen’s Primary School, Welling and St. Catherine’s School for Girls, Bexleyheath.
Cllr O’Hare achieved his long-time ambition to study for his teaching degree which he eventually achieved after three long years at the of fifty.
He first became interested in politics during the mid-1970s. He joined the Young Conservatives and campaigned for the appointment of Mrs Thatcher as Leader of the Conservatives and subsequently for her election as Prime Minister.
In 1997, he was disillusioned with the direction that the Conservative Party seemed to be heading, so he joined the Liberal Democrats and served for seven years as a Liberal Democrat Councillor in Bexley. In 2006, he decided to re-join the Conservatives and in 2006, he was successfully elected to the seat he currently holds.
The Mayor says:
Being Deputy Mayor and Mayor from 2007 to 2009 taught me much that will stand me in good stead for the coming year.
“I am also delighted that my daughter, Natalie, will be by my side as Mayoress for the coming year, although my wife Maria will be very much behind us, guiding and supporting, as she always does.”
“The Mayoress and I will work hard this year to raise further still the profile of our Borough and also to raise funds for our chosen charities. I was taught from an early age to fight and work hard for whatever I wanted and believed in and wanted to achieve. I feel lucky to have had the benefit of four wonderful parents who rather than spoil me, taught me values that I hold dear to my heart."
Cllr O’ Hare and his wife have worshipped at the Greek Orthodox Church, Welling for 37 years and have many friends in the Borough. They are both heavily involved in charitable work, both borough-wide and internationally.
The Mayor appointed Cllr Rags Sandhu, who represents Bexleyheath Ward, as Deputy Mayor and his wife, Mrs Bal Sandhu, as Deputy Mayoress. The Mayor has appointed The Reverend Thomas Koutrouki as his Chaplain. Father Thomas is the priest at the Christ The Saviour Greek Orthodox Church in Wickham Lane, Welling.
The Mayor has announced that he and the Mayoress will be working throughout his Mayoral year to raise funds for the local charity, ‘Avenues’.