North Yorkshire County Council's new chair is looking forward to meeting people from all walks of life during her year in office.
Cllr Helen Swiers (right in photograph), who takes up her new role today (17 May), will also continue the work of recent County Council chairs in supporting and championing North Yorkshire's many volunteers, who give their time and skills to help others.
Cllr Swiers, who has been a county councillor since 2001, previously represented the Esk Valley division and now represents the Filey division following the County Council elections earlier this month.
"It is interesting to meet new people from all walks of life," said Cllr Swiers. "That is something being on the County Council has enabled me to do. I have met a great many people I would not have come into contact with otherwise, and I am particularly looking forward to meeting many more during my year in office. Meeting a wide range of people helps to give a broader understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the county."
In supporting her predecessors' focus on championing volunteers, for example through the County Council's annual community awards, Cllr Swiers said: "Some people give an awful lot of time and effort to projects within their community and it is only right that this is acknowledged. They are doing a huge amount to get the most out of the resources we have at our disposal in North Yorkshire. Anything that can support and encourage that has to be good."
Prior to becoming a county councillor, Cllr Swiers was the first woman to be country chair of the national Farmers' Union.
For ten years she was a governor of Askham Bryan College and is now on the board of the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, where she is very supportive of its outreach programme.
She comes from a farming family and married a farmer, Christopher, who died 26 years ago. She has a daughter, Elizabeth, and a son, John, who runs the family farm at Bickley, near Scarborough. It is a mixed farm, focusing on sheep, beef and arable.
Cllr Robert Windass, who represents the Boroughbridge division, has been appointed deputy chair. He has been a county councillor since 2013. Cllr Windass also represents Boroughbridge on Harrogate Borough Council and has served as Mayor of the Borough previously.