Mayor: ‘I will bring the people together’

    Owen Baldock Mark Rhodes
    Owen Baldock (left) hands over the Mayor’s chain to Mark Rhodes

    Taking over as Mayor of Tonbridge & Malling from his lifelong friend Owen Baldock is a challenge Mark Rhodes is keenly anticipating.

    The two have known each other since their schooldays and Cllr Baldock was also best man at Cllr Rhodes’ wedding.

    Having represented Hildenborough for nearly 30 years on Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, Cllr Rhodes is proud to have been chosen by his colleagues for his latest role.

    The research engineer, who works at QinetiQ in Sevenoaks, took on his first mayoral duties last weekend when he officially opened the Tonbridge Food and Drink Festival. Praising the organisers for a ‘great job’, he said it had provided a fine start to his year.

    He admitted he would be exceptionally busy. “I know it sounds a cliché, but it really is a privilege and an honour to be doing this,” explained the 59-year-old on his appointment.

    “I don’t have a particular theme I will be working to, but I’ve served on community boards and that’s become a real area of interest, so I will focus on issues bringing people together in the borough. I think that it is going to be hard work communicating that to people, but it’s going to be enjoyable,” he explained.

    Cllr Rhodes and his wife Julie have made time to be part of the community around them. The couple have two children, and they are now proud grandparents – which is also something that has seen them extremely occupied outside of their working lives. In what spare time he has, Mark enjoys photography, sea fishing and being a local flood warden.

    He added: “Owen is going to be a tough act to follow, but as for the task in hand as Mayor, if the first week is anything to go by it’s going to be something special.”