Former Mayor councillor Terry Manning (Left) next to councillor Mandy Darling and guide Dog Pepsi (right) - Credit: Ed Oldfield/LDRS

Lib Dem councillor becomes Torbay's new mayor

Torbay Weekly

A guide dog will have to step up to extra responsibilities now that its owner has been elected mayor of Torbay.

Councillor Mandy Darling (Lib Dems, Tormohun), who is blind, was elected to the post for the 2022/23 civic year following a vote by Torbay Council. She will be accompanied by her guide dog Pepsi, a labrador-retriever cross.

Cllr Darling’s charities for her mayoral year are Guide Dogs for the Blind, Torbay, which over the years has provided the new mayor with four guide dogs.

She will also be supporting The Children’s Society whose work includes helping young people with disabilities who suffer from isolation.

Speaking after her appointment at annual council, Torbay Council’s equivalent of an AGM, Cllr Darling said: “The solid partnership that is built between a guide dog and guide dog owner is sometimes difficult to explain.

“But, having been able to walk outside the house with a guide dog and forget about ones disability is just something that is quite marvellous.”

Cllr Darling, who is married to the leader of Torbay Council Cllr Steve Darling (Lib Dems, Barton with Watcombe), has been deputy civic mayor since 2020 and is also scrutiny lead for health and adult services.

She has been a member of the council since 2015 and has worked for the NHS since 1987.

She takes over the post from the previous mayor and independent councillor Terry Manning (St Peters with St Marys).

Cllr Darling described Cllr Manning’s term as mayor as “exemplary” and said he had been an “excellent mentor.”

She continued: “I promise I will do my very best and utmost to represent Torbay, to promote Torbay and to do my best to make people love Torbay as much as I do.”

Councillor Douglas Dunbar (Lib Dems, Clifton with Maidenway), who formally proposed her election, said: “She is a determined and resourceful lady who I feel will bring much to the role of civic mayor specifically and Torbay generally.”

Councillor Robert Loxton (Shiphay) leader of the independent group at the council, said it was his “honour” to support the proposal.

He added: “When you look back at what she’s achieved over the last 20 years it’s like ‘wow.’”

Councillor Cecilia Brown (Independent, St Peters with St Marys) was elected as the new deputy civic mayor.

Guidedog Pepsi remained stoic throughout proceedings.