FROM an adopted son to the town’s first citizen — Cllr Martin Donaghy was named as Bolton’s next mayor at a special town hall service.

And he wasted no time issuing a “friendly challenge” to Bolton businesses to take on one apprentice a week while he is in office — to give the town’s young people their first break into working life.

Originally from the village of Bessbrook in County Newry, Cllr Donaghy came to Bolton when he was 17 years old for an engineering apprenticeship at Roberts Filling Machines in 1974 — as he struggled to find work as a Catholic in Northern Ireland, during the height of The Troubles.

The 56-year-old Tonge with The Haulgh councillor used his first mayoral meeting to say he intended to concentrate on business over the next year and highlight its role in making Bolton great.

He said: “I’m going to make a friendly challenge to businesses to appoint one apprentice a week for the next 52 weeks.

“It would mean 52 young people in work, learning a trade or skill, after my year in office. I would also appeal to private property owners — there are parts of Bolton that could do with a facelift, and I make an appeal to them this morning to enter into a real partnership with this council to bring these places up to scratch.

“Let Bolton be in business and let business be in Bolton, and let our town prosper.”

Dignitaries from across Bolton came to see Cllr Donaghy and his two mayoresses, Gay Wharton and Jacqueline Tracy, take their places at the head of the council chamber.

Cllr Colin Shaw stepped down after a year of office, and thanked the backroom staff and his wife and mayoress Dee for their hard work throughout his time as mayor.

He said: “It’s been an absolute privilege and a honour to be mayor of this town for the last 12 months.”

Tributes to town’s new first citizen

TRIBUTES to Cllr Martin Donaghy came from across the political spectrum as he was inaugurated as the Mayor of Bolton.

During the service, leading figures from Labour and the Conservatives described the councillor as a passionate orator, with a knack for impressions and with a love of history and singing.

Cllr David Greenhalgh, leader of the Bolton branch of Conservatives, led the tributes and said as a politician, Cllr Donaghy was not afraid to “rock the boat and cause mayhem” in the chamber during council meetings.

“While we may not agree politically, there is no doubt that Martin is a genuinely nice guy,” he added.

“All of us here go into local politics to make a difference, and I know Martin cares deeply about this town.”

Cllr Nick Peel praised Cllr Donaghy as an “elder statesman” and extremely popular member of the Labour Party in Bolton, who will be missed as the group’s chief whip during his mayoral year.

“I dread to think what these 12 months will do to his already massive popularity,” he added.

“He will make an exceptional Mayor of Bolton, I have no doubt about that whatsoever.”