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Trevor Shonk - Mayor of Ramsgate

Home / Our Community / People of Ramsgate / Trevor Shonk - Mayor of Ramsgate
What is it like being the Mayor of Ramsgate?
It is the most privileged job you could ever get in the town, if you’re a local person, which I am. Not only are you the Mayor, you’ve got to try to speak for all people, whether they voted for you or not, although the position of Mayor is not political. I have tried to copy and follow the past Mayors, not all of them, but most of them. It’s been a really good journey in my 4 years as Mayor.

Which Mayoral event have you enjoyed the most?
Well, because Ramsgate is quite unique, I would say the Cinque Port events are the most enjoyable and also an important part of Ramsgate. It is the oldest confederation there is in England.

When I go to Brightlingsea they really look forward to Cinque Port Mayors turning up and I believe a lot of past Mayors still turn up to this day. The welcome and reception you get there, the colours of the Mayors robes (the reds and blacks), and the history that goes with it, is just fantastic. Hopefully those types of days will always carry on whether I’m Mayor or not and I’ll still go up there as a past Mayor. Very inviting Brightlingsea, it’s a lovely connection and quite rightly so.

During your time as the Mayor of Ramsgate, what causes have you helped or supported?
There are so many. Well I like to put myself out and about as you well know.

East Kent Mencap is one of my Mayors charities which helps adults with disabilities. Headway is another charity I have helped out too. I try to help all school children really because they are our future.

I do go to a couple of schools, which were my old schools, and if there are 350 children then I’ll shake hands with all 350 children, as I put them first. In fact I haven’t grown up myself because if I’m there for assembly and still there for dinner time then I will sit in their plastic chairs and have the same dinners they have, which is sausage, chips and peas. It works because I see the children down the town and they come up and say ‘hello Trev’ or ‘hello Mr Mayor’ and I always say to them ‘don’t forget you’ve got to do this job one day’, they are the future and we’re old fogies.

Over the 4 years you have been the Mayor of Ramsgate, what has been your highlight?
Twinning has played a big part, I’ve been invited to Conflans (France) and Chimay (Belgium), more Conflans than Chimay but both towns are quite important to Ramsgate. I’ve done what I can to try and get young people involved, get them out of schools and to promote Ramsgate. Both towns are open for business, in fact, Terry Fern has done a lot for twinning behind the scenes, he is a very good chap and has taken this on himself.

Ramsgate Town Council is not overloaded with money, so Terry goes to twinning at his own cost and it’s great because he is keeping that connection alive.

The twinning committee are ‘hands on’ and the best thing about it is they do not approach Ramsgate Town Council for money. Events have been paid for such as a history trip to Conflans. Laura Probert gathered some history on Ramsgate families and went to Conflans to show the children and students there how Ramsgate and parts of Kent were involved in the First World War.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to be the Mayor of Ramsgate?
I think to be local, I mean I don’t know how all this worked out for me. I left school at 15 and I worked and worked and worked. In the end I did get involved in politics and the community more than anything really.

When I looked at the Mayors board and I saw some of the Mayors; Terry Cole, Charlie Goldsmith, Charlie Sharp etc, I knew all these people in the town. I had a connection with them, although I can’t remember back to 1884. I am the 66th Mayor of Ramsgate and as far as I am concerned I’ve given it 110%. I’m there for Ramsgate. I’m there for the Ramsgate people and residents.

What past Mayors have influenced you?
We have had some really good Mayors in the past, E G Butcher, Reverend Harcourt Samuel – his daughter visits me regularly, J Barnett – his daughter lives in Broadstairs and it was quite a privilege to stand alongside the Mayor of Broadstairs, which was Rosalind Binks at the time, knowing her father wore the chain that I had on. L R Taylor – my father knew him, he was a very polite and knowledgeable man, T Cole – he did a promotional video on Ramsgate and it is still shown today, C M Sharp – I knew Charlie, he had a motorcycle shop in Boundary Road. C H Goldsmith – he walked the streets for a long time, he was known as Mr Ramsgate. J D Kirby – he had a post office in Grange Road and P Moore – Pat gave me a list of things of dos and don’ts which I look at now and again.

I think all these people would say ‘good on yer’ because we are representing Ramsgate, it’s not the easiest job in the world but we have to find the balance.

Is there anything further you wish to say as Mayor of Ramsgate?
I have taken 73,000 photographs on my iPad, so that’s 73,000 in 4 years and it will probably be more by the end of my term. So when I’m not here, you will have all that history that you can look back on.

Everything we are trying to do is not just me as Mayor, it’s the Town Sergeant – Mac, my PA – Emma, the Town Clerk – Richard, the Deputy Town Clerk – Eileen and the Marketing Officer – Dean. I use all their experience to help me, so it’s not just me, although I do make the teas and coffees.

I would like to say thanks to my Deputy Mayor – Barbara Young, because she has managed to get out there and help me out, it is a privilege to take Barbara along to mayoral events. There are other councillors that have helped and supported me throughout my terms, including Stuart Piper who has acted as the Town Chaplain.

I don’t come here to ruffle any feathers as you have to come and work with all these people, but we have to get ourselves re-elected, maybe I will or maybe I won’t. I realise that as the time goes on that one day my name will be just a plaque on a wall and that’s it.

Interview by Dean Williams, Digital Communications and Marketing Officer
Interview Date: 7th December 2018