New seaborne challenge on the cards for outgoing Mayor


THE borough’s first citizen may have hung up his ceremonial chains but he will soon be setting sail on a record-breaking feat.

Not content to kick back and have a well-deserved rest after a busy mayoral year, councillor Mark Brooks will be undertaking a record-breaking challenge with a difference.

Training is already well underway for the former Mayor’s physical feat, when he attempts to become the first person to paddle cycle from Donaghadee to Portpatrick across the North Channel on a specially adapted paddle bike.

This tremendous physical challenge comes after the Bangor East and Donaghadee councillor’s year in office which was filled with many special celebrations.

Highlights of the mayoral year included Donaghadee Harbour’s bi-centenary celebrations and the opening of Ireland’s first camera obscura at the 12th century Moat in the seaside town.

During Northern Ireland’s centenary year, Mr Brooks said he was delighted to congratulate local residents who also celebrated their 100th birthdays.

From the borough’s oldest residents to its youngest, each of the babies born in Ards and North Down during this special centenary year received a special certificate from the Mayor.

He was also delighted to help raise funds for his two chosen charities, the Ards Peninsula First Responders and the Sir Samuel Kelly project with Donaghadee Heritage Preservation Company.

Looking back at his year in office, Mr Brooks said: “The pandemic posed a number of challenges because as mayor you are always meeting people. This was very difficult because of the guidelines, but we were able to do a lot outdoors.”

From turning on the Christmas lights in towns and villages to meeting with various groups across the borough, he was pleased to support people from all walks of life.

“You are visiting a project, or a football or sailing club and you are hearing their stories about what they are doing,” he said. “So you know a little about everything which is very interesting, and you have eyes that you would never have as a citizen.”

Considering his highlights, Mr Brooks said: “One of the first highlights was celebrating the bi-centenary of Donaghadee harbour, it was particularly special because it is my district electoral area.

“It was lovely to have the Community Choir and the Donaghadee Male Voice choir and at that time in the pandemic it was great to have an outdoor event.”

He also enjoyed marking the centenary celebrations with the borough’s oldest and youngest residents saying: “I would have visited residents who celebrated their 100th birthdays. It was lovely to meet people both at home and in nursing homes. Children who were born in the centenary year also received a special certificate.”

Mr Brooks also welcomed the opening of Donaghadee’s camera obscura saying: “It was great to see the completion of a project that you have been involved in from day one. It will bring a great number of visitors not just to Donaghadee but to the borough because it is unique.”

Mr Brooks was also delighted to be the borough’s first citizen when Bangor was awarded its city status saying: “When Bangor became a city I became the first mayor of Bangor city, so that has to be very special.”

He paid tribute to his fellow councillors and council officers saying: “I would like to thank the councillors and officers who were very supportive and tolerant.”

Looking to the future Mr Brooks is already focused on his North Sea challenge saying: “I will be following the traditional swimming route and hopefully will be the first person to cross the North Channel on a bicycle.”