A BASINGSTOKE and Deane resident of more than 40 years has taken on the role of the borough’s first citizen.

Basingstoke and Deane’s new mayor Councillor Diane Taylor and her consort Andy Taylor lived in Kempshott for four years followed by 37 in Oakley and the pair say they love the whole area.

Cllr Taylor, who represents the Oakley and North Waltham ward, said: “It has been home for the greatest part of my life and I love it. A town within easy striking distance of London, surrounded by fields, with a fantastic shopping centre, two superb theatres and an atmosphere of community and family.

“I count it an honour to be mayor of such a great borough.”

Born and raised in Surrey, Cllr Taylor’s father was a professional opera singer with the Royal Opera Company in Covent Garden.

While studying maths at Sussex University, Cllr Taylor met physics student Andy.

As a married couple, his work with Vickers Medical brought them to Basingstoke and they had two children, Barney and Pippa, who went to Oakley Infant and Junior Schools, the former King’s School and Queen Mary’s College, in Basingstoke.

Barney is now European managing director of a technology company, and Pippa is executive producer of the Chris Moyles’ Show on Global’s Radio X.

Before raising her family, Cllr Taylor worked for Sight Savers, previously The Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind, in PR and publicity.

She is now involved with a number of charities and pastoral work, alongside her responsibilities as a councillor.

Dr Taylor changed career path 15 years ago, from industry to the church. He now works as community pastor in Basingstoke where he has been instrumental in starting many initiatives, including Besom, The Town Chaplaincy, Street Pastors, Basingstoke Foodbank, the Night Light Winter Shelter and The Dwelling Place - both supporting local homeless people - and the Starfish Enterprise to help new community initiatives. He is also a member of the Social Inclusion Partnership.

Now married for 47 years, the couple regularly travel to India and other countries to support their charity work.

They also enjoy spending time with their four granddaughters, aged from six to 19.

Cllr Taylor added: “I am delighted to be taking on the role of mayor and look forward to continuing to meet and support the wonderful residents and those who work in Basingstoke and Deane.”