UP CLOSE: Meet the new Mayor of Kenilworth

By James Smith

26th May 2024 | Local News

Cllr Alan Chalmers is the new Mayor of Kenilworth (image via Jamie Gray / KTC)
Cllr Alan Chalmers is the new Mayor of Kenilworth (image via Jamie Gray / KTC)

At an evening at Kenilworth Castle on Friday 17 May, Cllr Alan Chalmers was unveiled as the new Mayor of Kenilworth.

First elected to Kenilworth Town Council in 2019, the Liberal Democrat served as deputy to outgoing mayor Cllr Alix Dearing, during the last civic year.

Having attended a number of events on behalf of the town over the past 12 months, he said he already has a "feel for what it expected" and insisted it has been a real privilege to represent the town at every occasion.

"You feel very responsible when you are going out representing the town," he told Nub News. 

"Obviously it is important to remember you are representing the town, not just being a Lib Dem, and put politics aside. 

"It is a big responsibility. It does make you feel very proud."

Born in Windhoek, Namibia, Cllr Chalmers actually grew up in Durban, South Africa, before coming to the UK in 1989 to do his PhD at Bristol University.

He stayed there until moving to Kenilworth in 2007 when he was head hunted to bring his research team to the University of Warwick where he continues to lead a team looking at high-fidelity multisensory virtual experiences.

Cllr Chalmers said when he first came to the area, he instantly fell in love with Kenilworth.

"When I came to the university they said you can live in Coventry, Leamington or Kenilworth," he explained. 

"I came to Kenilworth first and thought 'why would we want to go anywhere else'."

Cllr Chalmers said he first got involved in local politics after the 2016 Brexit vote, before successfully running in the Park Hill ward in 2019.

He was then re-elected to Kenilworth Town Council during the 2023 local elections.

"It is surprising how rewarding being a town councillor can be," he said. 

"Obviously you are volunteering and giving up a lot of time, but you really get to know about the town. 

"It can be frustrating that the council doesn't always have the power to make the final decision on things. 

"But it really is rewarding to feel like you have a stake in the town and make a difference to people."

As well as leading a project which uses virtual flavour profiling to provide early screening for Alzheimer's Disease, Cllr Chalmers' research also includes creating multi-sensory reconstructions of archaeological sites.

For his mayoral year he wants to focus on the town's heritage and has already begun an exciting project to create a virtual reality experience of Abbey Fields.

"Heritage, past, present and future, is my focus. It is inspired by my day job really," he explained. 

"I do a lot of work on virtual archaeology and I did a lot of work on the City of Culture. 

"The loss of Woodside is a huge loss for the town, built in the 1860's but it is gone because of developers. 

"But I want to make people aware of what we have got before we lose it."

His choice of mayoral charity - the Waverley Day Centre - also stems in part from his research.

As well as providing a "very important service" to local people, the Waverley Road charity has also helped him with his work in Alzheimer's.

And ahead of an already busy schedule of mayoral engagements, Cllr Chalmers said: "I am looking forward to representing the town, and for all people here."

     

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