First citizen of the borough
Six months into her role as the Mayor of Islington and Cllr Kat Fletcher is having a ball. Whether it’s attending an official ceremony as the first citizen of the borough, or pond dipping in Gillespie Park, she is enjoying every minute.
“People always say to me, ‘what’s the best thing you’ve done as Mayor’ and, well, it’s really impossible to say. For example, earlier this week I went to see the Grand Prior, who is HRH Duke of Gloucester, induct the new prior at St John’s down in Clerkenwell. In order for the new prior to be installed he first had to be made a Knight of Sir John, so HRH knighted him, like they do in the movies with the sword, and I was there as Mayor.
“It was an incredibly special moment, a real privilege, and one that most people in the borough won’t see. But, it is just as joyful when you are invited to Gillespie Park to go tadpole fishing with small children, who just can’t decide if you are a pirate, or a princess from a castle.”
Over the course of the year she’s in office, Kat will attend around 500 different events as Mayor. She was elected to the position in May 2016 and has served as councillor of St George’s ward since 2013 – a role she still fulfils despite her busy schedule.
Part of her work as Mayor, Kat is supporting the Ben Kinsella Trust, set up in 2008 in memory of the Islington teenager who was stabbed to death in a horrific act of senseless violence.
“I think George and Debbie Kinsella, the mum and dad of Ben, are extraordinary people. Essentially they relive the horrendous pain that it must be to lose your only son, your youngest child, every day in order to try and stop that happening to other families. I just think they are absolutely phenomenal.”
Speaking about the devastating impacts that knife crime has on victims and their families, Kat is clear about the need to tackle all kinds of hate crime.
“From the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox in June to the rise in tensions following Brexit, higher levels of hate crime are happening not just locally but nationally.
“One of the best things about Islington is how diverse and multicultural and welcoming it is – it’s a lovely place to live. Sadly this year has now become dominated by making sure that we celebrate the best of Islington, we shut down hate crime where we see it and we make sure that all Islington residents feel safe and supported and are comfortable to report things that happen to them.”
A resident of Tufnell Park, Kat and is passionate about the borough. She says being Mayor is a great privilege that has completely exceeded her expectations.
“Islington is a youthful, diverse, engaging borough that I think wants its mayors to be approachable, engage with them and reach out to them. Not be some stand aloof character from a different century. And that’s my approach to it and I hope that it’s working.
“I knew it would be a great privilege and I was very much looking forward to it, but it has completely exceeded my expectations. I’m having such a wonderful time, I’m meeting incredible people, seeing wonderful projects and I’m having so much fun with it. I’m absolutely having a ball.
And when it’s all over, what will she take with her? “Lots of amazing new experiences, new friends and a new appreciation for the borough,” she says.