A VETERAN councillor has been sworn in as deputy mayor of Colchester in unprecedented circumstances.

Conservative councillor Robert Davidson (Mersea and Pyefleet) and wife Elizabeth were presented with their badges of office by Town Serjeant Paul Lind at their Peldon home.

Due to coronavirus’ impact on Colchester Council’s schedule, rules for the mayoralty have had to be adjusted and Colchester Mayor Nick Cope will remain in office until October, making him the first person to serve more than 12 months in nearly 80 years.

Mr Davidson will then take over at a meeting of full council and also serve 18 months in office.

The Peldon couple have been successfully farming in the village where they live for decades, building up their firm into a large commercial operation.

For 20 years, they had a large sheep flock and lambed more than 1,000 ewes every year. Mrs Davidson did the bulk of the shepherding, whilst her husband ran the arable side of the business.

They’ve both played active roles in the village’s community and Mr Davidson was first elected to the borough council in 1998.

He was Conservative Group leader until last month and previously led the council in 2006.

As his involvement with the council ramped up the number of animals on the farm has dwindled, with only two faithful labradors remaining.

After being diagnosed with cancer Mrs Davidson decided to spend more time at home rather than operating heavy machinery and the business is now run by the couple’s nephew James, with support from Mr Davidson.

“My wife and I are honoured to help represent Colchester during this unsettling pandemic, which has highlighted how many of us have relied on our key workers and volunteers to keep us safe,” he said.

“We look forward to the good work we can achieve in the months to come and wish councillor Beverley Oxford well after she had to withdraw as deputy mayor.”

Mr Cope welcomed his deputy into the role with a pre-recorded message. Visit rb.gy/z5pzep.