NEWLY elected Devizes Mayor Chris Gay has taken over the top civic job amid the most tragic of circumstances but is determined to serve the town well.

She has stepped up after the shock death of Andy Johnson just days after he took on the role in a robing ceremony held via Zoom.

Fellow councillors were left hugely saddened by the death in May of Cllr Johnson aged 66.

At the time former mayor Nigel Carter said: “This is stunning and very sobering news. Andy passionately wanted to be the Mayor and was very proud to be appointed.

“That he was able to take up the role with an international audience of friends and family despite the unusual medium in which it was conducted gave him great pleasure. It really is a very sad turn of events.”

But now Cllr Gay has taken on the job of both Mayor and chairman of the council after she was elected at a full meeting of the town council..

She has lived in Devizes for much of her life and comes from a local family who have lived and worked in and around Devizes for many many generations. Her father John Perrett was Mayor of Devizes in 1988.

She will have a number of important duties to carry out including the final signing of a contract with Wiltshire Council which passes over a number of services. Although the Market Place sign off is yet to be finalised all the other parts of the devolution package are now in place.

Town clerk Simon Fisher said: “In her position as Mayor, Councillor Mrs Gay will shortly be signing off on the service devolution package from Wiltshire Council which will see more accountability for those important services that make a difference as to how we feel about our town.

“She will also be signing an agreement with Wiltshire FA to ensure that the new football facilities at Green Lane provide great sporting opportunities for the community.

But she said that her most important task to begin with will be to focus on responding positively to situations created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

She wants to Town Council to support shops and businesses for the people of Devizes so they can regenerate and build again.

She said: “I am particularly fortunate to have been advised and assisted by my fellow councillors and by the hard-working officers at the town hall.

“Between them they have an extremely extensive range of skills, knowledge and experience, all being used for the benefit of the people of Devizes.”