Meet the Mayor & Deputy Mayor of Trowbridge

Find out more about our Mayor and Deputy Mayor, including what and who inspires them.

Councillor Stephen Cooper was voted to become the new Mayor of Trowbridge for 2023–2024 at the meeting of the Full Council on Tuesday the 16th of May 2023. 

Councillor Denise Bates was voted in to become the Deputy Mayor of Trowbridge. 

Mayor of Trowbridge

Councillor Stephen Cooper

What inspired you to run for the position of mayor?

Being Mayor opens doors to organisations like our Chamber of Commerce, heritage societies, and local special interest groups. The Mayor gets invited to attend events, talk to people, and act as an advocate and ambassador for the town. The Mayor has a voice that can and should be used to promote the best interests of the town, but it’s more than that; the Mayor also gets opportunities to learn how other towns approach problems and challenges, knowledge that can then be brought back to Trowbridge. I want to use that voice and that learning opportunity to make Trowbridge a town that builds success through its own efforts. That’s what inspired me, and that’s what inspires me still.

What are some of your personal goals for your term as mayor?

That’s an easy one.

I want to do everything I can to promote Trowbridge as a town that’s on the up—that’s vibrant and active, a good place to live, and a good place to visit.

Which famous person most inspires you and why?

Oh, I hate this one! I could be suitably pretentious and cite Nelson Mandela and Mohandas Gandhi as examples of men who came to realise that peace and reconciliation are both more powerful forces for good than conflict and violence. I could point to T. E. Lawrence and Angela Merkel, who both, in their own way, sought to successfully unite divided, inequitable, and mutually suspicious societies. I might single out Don Walsh and Alexei Leonov, both of whom showed almost unimaginable courage in venturing into the unknown, but ultimately, I’d have to say the two people who’ve inspired me most over the years are probably Freddy Mercury and David Bowie!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and how do you apply it to your work?

My grandfather always used to say (referring to woodworking), “Measure twice and cut once.”  This mantra can so easily be paraphrased into “think twice before you open your mouth” or “listen more than you talk.” both are very good principles to live by, but particularly relevant to anyone engaged in any form of “public life”. Nothing is ever black and white; everything is nuanced, and reacting without first considering all points of view and all potential implications usually ends in tears.

What’s the most interesting (or unexpected) thing you’ve learned about Trowbridge?

Trowbridge has a long and genuinely fascinating history, but one thing that stands out for me is the story of Thomas Helliker, a local lad who died on his 19th birthday in 1803 (his tomb is in the churchyard of St. James in the centre of Trowbridge). Helliker is known as the Trowbridge Martyr; he was hanged for his (alleged, but since widely discredited) role in the supposed sabotage of a Wiltshire woollen mill. Helliker is now regarded as a victim of a group of corrupt anti-Luddite local mill owners and as a significant figure in the early history of trade unionism in England.

If you could have any superpower to help you in your role as mayor, what would it be?

Another easy one: I’d like the ability to read thoughts! I realised a long time ago that what comes out of someone’s mouth does not always equate to what is going on inside their head!

Deputy Mayor of Trowbridge

Councillor Denise Bates

What inspired you to run for the position of deputy mayor?

Having previously had the privilege to serve as Mayor from 2021-2022, I was delighted to be elected as Deputy Mayor in May of this year, to support the newly elected Mayor, Cllr Stephen Cooper. 

As Mayor, I had a wonderful year representing our town and, most importantly, I was humbled to meet so many hardworking and dedicated people who volunteer for the many organisations and charities in our community. I came to appreciate that Trowbridge has a wealth of community spirit of which we can be proud and I wanted to continue to be a part of this.

What are some of your personal goals for your term as deputy mayor?

In my role as Deputy Mayor, I plan to build on those relationships forged within our community during my Mayoral year.  I hope it will lead to more collaboration between the Town Council and our town’s organisations, as we all work together for the mutual benefit of our townsfolk.

Which famous person most inspires you and why?

This really is a difficult question to answer. For me, the one person that stands out as an inspirational leader throughout the world is the late Nelson Mandela.   He endured great personal sacrifice for his beliefs in the equality of all people, justice and human rights. His legacy will continue to provide inspiration for generations to come.  

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and how do you apply it to your work?

‘Be kind and treat other people as you would wish to be treated’.  I was taught this by my parents from a very young age and I hope I have lived up to their high standards throughout my life.  A simple act of kindness that improves someone else’s situation really does make for a kinder society and helps improve our well-being.  My mantra is …always be kind to others!

What’s the most interesting (or unexpected) thing you’ve learned about Trowbridge?

Over the past few years, I have had my eyes opened to the great legacy of historical buildings in our town. Just recently, we walked the heritage trail (a map is available from Information Services).  Our visiting family thoroughly enjoyed the tour and it increased my knowledge of the woollen mills and the grand houses owned by the wealthy mill owners.  I was intrigued by Handle House, part of the Studley Mill complex.  The house was used to dry out wet teasel handles, and the open bricks on both sides allowed the air to pass through and dry them.  The teasels were used in the finishing process in the manufacture of woollen cloth, known as ‘raising the nap’.  I believe there are only two examples of this type of structure left in the country, and Trowbridge has one of them!

If you could have any superpower to help you in your role as mayor, what would it be?

A photographic memory…..  I could remember all my speeches and the people I meet, plus memorise all the Council documents with just a quick read-through!

Teleportation… the ability to instantly move from one location to another without any restrictions.  This would be a great help in getting from one Mayoral engagement to the next and not having to worry about traffic or parking etc. Perhaps I could have a pair of red shoes like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and just click my heels!

However, the most important superpower to me is Empathy, the ability to understand how someone else feels.

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