New mayor is looking to ‘heal the rifts’

The new mayoral party, from left, Deputy Mayoress Helen Staples, Deputy Mayor Coun Maureen Dennis, Mayor of Boston Coun Stephen Woodliffe and Mayoress Catharine Woodliffe.
The new mayoral party, from left, Deputy Mayoress Helen Staples, Deputy Mayor Coun Maureen Dennis, Mayor of Boston Coun Stephen Woodliffe and Mayoress Catharine Woodliffe.

The new Mayor of Boston says he wants to ‘heal the rifts between the different communities that live here’.

Stephen Woodliffe shared his vision for the year ahead as he received the chains of office in front of his fellow councillors.

“We have a wonderful borough with an amazing history which we should be proud of, and which we should promote as much as possible,” he said.

“No one else is going to speak up for us, so it is up to us to win hearts and minds to look favourably upon our borough.

“If we are positive about ourselves and what we can contribute to our borough, then Boston will indeed be a better place to live and work.”

The Foodbank and Blackfriars Theatre and Arts Centre are the mayor’s charities for the year.

Coun Woodliffe said: “It is my intention to use this Mayoral year to promote those activities and charities that enhance the lives of our fellow citizens and, in particular, attempt to heal the rifts between the different communities that live here.”

Coun Woodliffe and his wife, Mayoress Catharine, moved to Boston in 1988 after the couple drew a line on a map when deciding where to set up home - anything below the line in the south was deemed ‘unaffordable’. They settled right on the line after Coun Woodliffe found a job as a maths teacher at Boston Grammar School and have lived in their Chester Way home ever since.

Coun Woodliffe who has a sister, Mary Jane, was born in 1950. His father, an East Ender, was a Desert Rat who had been badly wounded in the Second World War in the battle of Sidi Rezegh, near Tobruk in North Africa, in 1941.

His Christian faith has always played a central part in his life and, during this time teaching at Culford School, near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, he corresponded with Catharine through a Christian pen-pal group. They arranged to meet at a treasure hunt in Cambridge. Coun Woodliffe proposed on their second date and eight months later they married. But there was a snag: Catharine was not allowed to stay in Stephen’s flat at the school after they had married, and so for the final months of his contract at Culford, they were rarely able to be together.

After the marriage came the decision to move. Children followed, with Andrew, who in his final year at Skegness Grammar School won a place at Oxford University to read engineering, and, after graduating in 2012, is now married and living in Kuala Lumpur where he is a maths teacher; and, James, now 22, who is studying for an audio production degree at Lincoln University.

After 18 years at Boston Grammar School and time spent at Carre’s Grammar School, Sleaford, and William Lovell Secondary Modern at Stickney, Coun Woodliffe retired to spend more time in the garden and to catch up on his reading, or so he thought. However, in May 2011, he was elected as West Ward councillor for Boston Borough Council, and was re-elected last May. Now, he is Boston’s 482nd Mayor, and his plans to spend time pottering in the garden remain on hold.

He said: “I continue to be amazed to have been elected twice, and with such large majorities, and now further amazed at being chosen to be Mayor of this wonderful borough of ours. My father would have been very proud to see me elected Mayor of Boston. He had been a Conservative Party district councillor in Market Harborough, in Leicestershire, in the 1970s, and then a town councillor in Downham Market, in Norfolk, in the 1980s.”

Coun Maureen Dennis is Deputy Mayor and Helen Staples, a former Boston borough councillor, is Deputy Mayoress.