BOLTON'S new Mayor spoke of his "elation" at taking over the chains of office at the annual mayor-making ceremony at Bolton Town Hall.

Cllr Tony Connell became Bolton's First Citizen yesterday, taking over from the outgoing mayor, Cllr Barbara Ronson, who will become his deputy.

Cllr Ronson wished the new Mayor and his wife, Maureen, the new Mayoress, good luck in their "enjoyable but exhausting" new roles.

Cllr Connell, aged 66 and a Little Lever Labour councillor since 1990, said he was looking forward to his year in office.

In his acceptance speech, he said: "I've always led a hectic lifestyle - working full-time, marathon training, council meetings, so I'm used to being on the go. I think I'll have the stamina!"

The former St Ethelbert's pupil and father-of-four added: "My aim is to improve things for the people, young people in particular, because they do a lot of good things."

Cllr Connell joked that "the robes and chain may be a handicap" to one of his great passions - running for charity. He also announced his good causes for the year: Derian House Children's Hospice, Bolton Sea Cadets and the Samaritans, for whom he ran his first marathon in the 1980s.

He said that having worked in engineering and the textile industry, he was excited at the prospect of new jobs being created by developments in the town centre and plans to expand Bolton University.

He added: "I see this as one of the most important and high-profile roles in the borough and we're enormously looking forward to representing the town."

The new Mayor was welcomed by his council colleagues.

Conservative leader John Walsh said Cllr Connell was "a quiet man who can have have pretty strong views when needed" and who took "a great deal of pride in representing his ward".

Cllr Walsh added: "He now has the opportunity to serve all the residents in the borough on a much wider platform."

Cllr Noel Spencer, who grew up with Cllr Connell, said people "would feel a sense of pride that one of their own had achieved the highest accolade and honour that our town can bestow".

Cllr Spencer also praised Cllr Ronson and her husband and consort, Bob, for their "exemplary" service to Bolton during their year in office.

After being formally unveiled as Mayor, Cllr Connell was joined by councillors and dignitaries at a drinks reception and lunch.