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The Mayor of Preston

The Mayor

The Mayor of Preston background

The tradition of having a Mayor of Preston dates back to the middle ages when the City's first Charter (a document bestowing certain rights on a town) was granted by Henry II in 1179.

The Mayor of Preston acts as the City's first citizen, which means they speak on behalf of the City and are an important part of its identity. They also represent local people at civic and ceremonial events.

Nowadays, the Mayor has to be a Preston City Councillor, meaning that local people have voted for them to represent their communities. Once chosen, they become Deputy Mayor for a year, before stepping up at the following Annual Council and serve as the Mayor for a year.

For more information visit our background to the Mayor of Preston page, along with a list of past Mayors.

The current Mayor of Preston

The Mayor of Preston for 2022/23 is Councillor Neil Darby who is the 694th Mayor of Preston, a position which dates back to 1327.

You can follow the Mayor on Facebook and Twitter.

Councillor Neil Darby

Neil was born in Chelmsford, Essex. He almost immediately began moving North as his family moved to Hucknall, outside Nottingham, where he grew up and attended Nottingham High School. He graduated from Leeds University in 2011 with a degree in Politics and Parliamentary Studies.

He moved to Preston in 2010 after his university placement year in the office of Sir Menzies Campbell MP in Westminster.

He spent his final year of university commuting between his home in Preston, university in Leeds, and Burnley, where he had begun working as a caseworker for then-newly-elected MP Gordon Birtwistle. He continued to work for Gordon Birtwistle until after the 2015 General Election, moving from the caseworker role to communications manager in the meantime.

Neil currently works at Moss Wood Caravan Park as the Administration and Marketing Coordinator, where he started in 2016. He is particularly proud of their record as five-time consecutive finalists for the Lancashire Tourism Awards Sustainability Award (and 2019 winners!).

Neil has been active in local politics since moving to Preston in 2010, first standing for election in the Tulketh ward in 2011. He began helping in Ingol, Tanterton, Cottam and Lea Town working with former county councillor Bill Winlow in 2012 and first won election to the Ingol ward in 2014. He has represented the Ingol and Cottam ward since its creation in 2019. Since 2019 he has been the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Preston City Council, and has also sat on the Planning Committee since that election.

In his free time, Neil enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and camping - something he loved from his years as a scout. After being a scout for many years, he became first a leader and later group scout leader at 1St Ashton Scouts from the unit's reinstitution in 2010 until stepping down after winning election in 2014. He also enjoys long distance running and ran the Manchester Marathon in 2021, raising money for local charity Intact.

Intact will be one of Neil's Mayoral Charities for 2022/23 after seeing first hand in Ingol and Tanterton the amazing work they do for people in the area, particularly in the wake of the Covid pandemic. He will also be supporting as another Mayoral Charity the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Charity. This is in part as a response to the impact that Covid has had on our local hospital and the hard work done by staff throughout the crisis, and partly a tribute to the fantastic work done by the NHS in caring for his mum who suffers from a chronic medical condition.

Neil is honoured to be supported during his mayoral year by his Mayoress Pauline Brown, a long-serving councillor for Ingol, Tanterton, Cottam and Lea Town herself who would have been Mayor had her health allowed. He will also be supported in his duties by his partner Dan as Mayor's Consort.

Deputy Mayor of Preston

The Deputy Mayor of Preston is Councillor Yakub Patel.


Section 3(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 specifically provides that the Mayor shall have precedence in the district, but not so as prejudicially to affect Her Majesty's royal prerogative.

Within the City of Preston, therefore, the Mayor must be given precedence over all except Her Majesty the Queen, members of the Royal Family (i.e. Princes, Princesses, Dukes and Duchesses of the Blood Royal, styled "His (Her) Royal Highness") and Her Majesty's representatives when acting in their official capacities and directly representing the Crown (viz. Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant for the County of Lancashire, and, in certain circumstances, the High Sheriff for the County of Lancashire).

Accordingly, the place reserved for the Mayor must be on the immediate right of the Chairman or other person presiding at any occasion except when one of the persons to whom the Mayor yields precedence is present.

The Mayor is normally attended by an Officer from whom advice on matters of protocol may be sought.

What is the correct way of addressing the Mayor?

If you are introducing the Mayor it is "The right Worshipful the Mayor of Preston" and if you are addressing the Mayor it is "Mr Mayor".  

If the Mayor's partner is a woman, she is known as the Mayoress. If the Mayor's partner is a man, he is called the Mayor's Consort.

Will the Mayor attend my event or function?

The Mayor's ceremonial role is to represent the city at annual events such as the Remembrance Day service and Holocaust Memorial Day, as well as high-profile engagements.

The Mayor's diary includes more than 500 appointments throughout the year and is organised by the council's Mayoral Officer.

To invite the Mayor to a function please complete our Invite the Mayor online form and a member of the team will be in touch. 

Invite the Mayor to your event

The Mayoral chains

When attending official appointments, the Mayor wears the Mayoral chains which were designed by Alfred Gilbert A.R.A and under went various modifications from the original model and was finally presented to the then Mayor, James Burrow, on 3 November, 1888.

The mayoral chains and badge are an important tradition, having been commissioned to celebrate Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887 at a cost of £800.

The Civic Regalia, which includes the mayoral robes and chains, precede the Mayor on formal Civic occasions such as the Judges Service.  

See our Civic regalia section for more information on Preston's long and distinguished history regarding the insignia.

Honorary Freemen / Honorary Freewoman

To be granted the title of Honorary Freeman / Honorary Freewoman is a mark of distinction upon the person whom the Council wishes to honour. The Freedom itself carries no privilege and is purely an honour, reflecting the eminence of the person on whom it is conferred or as recognition of significant and valuable services rendered to the borough by that person.

The ceremony for the admitting of an Honorary Freeman is a very formal occasion, with the act providing a special meeting of the Council. This must be convened with the specific object of passing the resolution to Honorary Freedom - one of the highest honours that the Council of a City or Borough can bestow.

The resolution should be passed by not less than two thirds of the members present.

The procedure should be carried out with the utmost formality and the Honorary Freeman / Honorary Freewoman Elect is invited to the Council Meeting and placed on the right hand of the Mayor.

For a list of Freeman / Freewoman of Preston and more information please see our Honorary Freemen/ Freewoman page.

Honorary Aldermen of the City

Essentially, the offer of appointment to Honorary Alderman / Honorary Alderwoman may only be considered in respect of former Members having a minimum of 15 years service. Any former Member who qualifies will then be considered by the Honours Task Group established to consider whether that person meets the criteria.

Aldermen constituted one-quarter of a Council except in the Greater London Council and the London Boroughs where the proportion was one-sixth.

For information on the Honorary Alderman / Honorary Alder woman and a full list of former members of the Council please see our Honorary Aldermen of the City of Preston page.

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