Family will be at the heart of the year ahead for Lisburn’s new Mayor

Lisburn’s new first citizen, Mayor Councillor Scott Carson, has spoken about the trauma his family went through which led to him choosing Helping Hand and Atlas Women’s Centre as his mayoral charities for the year.

Speaking to the Star just one week into his term in office, he revealed how the illness of his two daughters Isabella (6) and Penelope (3) made the decision on which charities to support a very easy one.

“When Isabella was three months old she developed a lung infection and was admitted to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children,” explained Mr Carson who works for former First Minister Paul Givan.

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“Then three years later Penelope developed exactly the same condition when she was six weeks old. She really struggled to breathe and was admitted into the paediatric unit. It was some of the most difficult days and weeks I have experienced. When the consultant told us he would have to intubate her we felt so helpless.

Mayor Scott Carson, with his wife Mayoress Ruth and his daughters Isabella and Penelope, who have been dubbed ‘The Mayor Maids’

“But she had the heart of a lion as she didn’t fully let the machine breathe for her. She constantly wanted to breathe herself and a week later she made a wonderful recovery.”

Whilst they were sitting by their daughters bed praying for her recovery, Mr Carson and his wife Ruth saw the hard work of the dedicated staff in the unit. So when it came time to choose charities to support by fundraising during his time in office, Mr Carson knew he had to choose Helping Hand, a charity which was established to provide the best equipment, to fund research, education and to support the immediate needs of children and their parents at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

A year after Penelope’s recovery Mr Carson’s wife Ruth was struggling with her mental health as a result of the trauma of watching her children went through. Due to a lengthy waiting list, she was referred to Atlas Women’s Centre in Lisburn, who were able to provide much needed counselling and support. It was that invaluable support which made the Carsons decide to also support the Atlas Women’s Centre over the next year.

“It was the weekly sessions and valuable support there that really got her through,” continued the Mayor.

Mayor Scott Carson speaking at the memorial to the soldiers who were killed in the Lisburn fun run bombing

First co-opted onto Lisburn City Council in 2013 to represent Lisburn North, Mr Carson has since been elected to serve on Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and has chaired a number of committees, including, most recently the Council’s Centenary Working Group, which had the huge task of celebrating 100 years of Northern Ireland in the city.

With this experience under his belt, Mr Carson knows that the year as Mayor will be a busy one, with plenty of challenges ahead. However, with his family at the centre of his life, he hopes to include them as much as possible in activities throughout the year.

“Family is going to be at the heart of the year,” continued Mr Carson. “We are keen to run as many family orientated events as possible.”

Looking ahead to his year in office, Mr Carson hopes that one of the highlights will be conferring the Freedom of the City on Lisburn hymn writer Keith Getty and his wife Kristyn.

The 'Mayor Maids'

“I would love to see that happen in my time,” continued Mr Carson. “Their music means something to me and my family.”

Mr Carson, who chose his own minister Rev Roger Higginson from Lisburn Free Presbyterian Church to be his Chaplain for the year, also revealed how important his faith is to him.

“My faith is very important,” he said. “In everything I seek to do in my political and personal life, I seek guidance from the Lord as to how I deal with everything on a daily basis. It is hugely important to me.”

Despite only being a matter of days into his term in office, Mr Carson has already had a busy schedule, including wishing happy 100th birthday to a local resident, hosting a reception for school principals who are retiring, and marking the anniversary of the Lisburn fun run bombing, which killed six soldiers in 1988.

Mr Carson has had a busy start to his term and things are unlikely to slow down, but it is a task which he is very much looking forward to undertaking.

“A week in and it is still much more than I thought it was going to be,” the Mayor admitted. “A lot of colleagues have offered advice but until you are in the role you underestimate the task in hand.

“I was excited to assume the role.

“Not everyone gets the opportunity in local government and it’s the highest accolade you can have.”

READ MORE: New Mayor for Lisburn Castlereagh