THERE were smiles all round as Bolton elected a new mayor and made history at the same time.

Cllr Barbara Ronson became the town's first citizen in the annual mayor making at Bolton Town Hall.

The Horwich North-east councillor, who was elected in 1986, is Bolton's first Liberal Democrat Mayor and the first to be joined by a male consort, her husband Cllr Bob Ronson.

Cllr Barbara Ronson, who has adopted the title, Madam Mayor, was handed the mayoral chain of office by her predecessor Cllr Walter Hall.

She told a packed chamber: "Today is hugely important to me and my family," she said.

"We are delighted to be playing a central role in the history of our proud and wonderful borough.

"I am following a long and distinguished line which goes back some 140 years."

She paid tribute to Cllr Hall's "boundless energy" and added: "Being elected Mayor is one of the greatest honours a town can bestow on one of its citizens.

"We're looking forward to getting out and meeting people from all walks of life and all parts of the borough."

Council and Labour group leader, Cllr Cliff Morris, who formally nominated Cllr Barbara Ronson for the role, said: "This is a fitting tribute to the years of dedicated service she has provided to the council and her community and to the education community in her careers as a librarian and lecturer in that field."

Wishing the new mayoral couple well, Cllr Hall added that he had enjoyed a "year to remember", raising nearly £30,000 for his chosen charities.

The Ronsons' chosen charity for the year is the North-west Air Ambulance, which relies entirely on voluntary contributions.

Cllr Barbara Ronson, who has just stood down as Lib Dem group leader because her civic role is non-political, has chosen the team rector of Horwich, the Rev Stephen Fletcher to be her chaplain. As mayor's consort, Cllr Bob Ronson will now wear a gold badge of office bearing the Bolton elephant.

It is thought to have been used by mayors for less formal occasions from 1878 to 1902 before the current town coat of arms was established.

He will retain his right to vote at full council meetings.