New mayor wants to bring town together

As a youngster growing up in Wimbledon, South London, in the 1950s and 60s, Doug Smith, the new mayor of Sheringham, got to watch top tennis players including Ken Rosewall, Darlene Hard and seven-times world number one Rod Laver.

As a youngster growing up in Wimbledon, South London, in the 1950s and 60s, Doug Smith, the new mayor of Sheringham, got to watch top tennis players including Ken Rosewall, Darlene Hard and seven-times world number one Rod Laver.

"I would wait outside with a group of friends and we'd often end up being given people's unwanted tickets, so we were able to sit and see some of the best players in action," he explained.

Aged 13, Doug moved to Surrey and, after leaving school, he travelled to Tunbridge Wells to take up a printing apprenticeship working mainly in photographic darkrooms.

In 1969, he married his childhood sweetheart Sammy and the couple, who had lived next door to each other as teenagers, went on to have two sons.

After spending 20 years running their own printing business, Doug and Sammy decided on a change of scenery and, in 2001, they sold up and moved to Sheringham, where they had previously had a holiday home.

Keen to become involved in community life, the couple, who are both keen gardeners, joined the Sheringham in Bloom team shortly after moving to the town, with Doug, who was a town councillor in Tunbridge Wells for five years, co-opted onto Sheringham town council in 2007.

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"I have always been politically-minded and I think that, because I wasn't born and bred in Sheringham, I have a perception of the town from the outside looking in, which means I can understand why all our visitors think so highly of it," he said.

The town council voted unanimously to elect Doug as mayor on June 1st and, in his new role as chairman of the council, he says one of his main aims is to foster community spirit.

"I do think the supermarket issue has gone on too long," he said. "The town has become very divided and I would like to see this resolved as soon as possible so that we can become unified as a community once more."

When not concentrating on council matters, Doug enjoys spending time with nine-month-old grandson Nicholas and working on his Weybourne Road allotment with Sammy. The couple are also keen travellers and have enjoyed holidays in far-flung countries including New Zealand, South Africa and Singapore.

The lowdown:

What is the best thing about your job?

Having the opportunity of gently guiding the council in the direction you want to take it. I want to have a cohesive council where members can have very opposing views, but respect each other and have debates in a friendly manner.

And the worst?

Probably the time it takes up in one's life - it can be a full time job.

What is your favourite Norfolk building?

The Forum in Norwich because although it is close to such old, traditional buildings - and I usually hate modern architecture - it looks right. It's a spectacular example of how a modern building can look stunning and work well in an ancient city.

What is the one thing you would change about north Norfolk?

I think more employment opportunities is what is lacking here, especially for young families.

What is the one thing you would change about yourself?

I'd like to be more organised so that I could spend more time with my family, especially my father who is now in his 92nd year.

What has been your proudest moment?

I'd have to say becoming a parent.

And your greatest achievement?

Running a very successful business for 20 years.

Have you ever done anything outrageous?

I do a small job working on an ice cream van on the Leas in Sheringham and, with my business background, my family think that is outrageous. But I love it, it is such a happy job and it gives me a unique insight into what visitors think of our town.

Any embarrassing moments?

I did try an ice lolly the other day and only discovered afterwards that it had stained my teeth, tongue and lips bright blue. Quite embarrassing as I was due at a council meeting two hours later!

Favourite book, film and TV programme?

Book: A Town Like Alice by Neville Shute, film: Mamma Mia and my favourite TV show has to be Spooks.

How would you like to be remembered?

As somebody who loved their family and who cared deeply about the town in which they chose to live.

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