Wakefield’s new mayor has pledged to raise money for the regional burns unit at Pinderfields Hospital during his year in office.
Former miner Stuart Heptinstall, representative for the Wakefield East ward, was inaugurated at the council’s annual meeting last week.
He has selected the unit, which treats adults and children from across Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, as his chosen charity for the next 12 months.
The cash raised will go towards the building of a new sitting room for patients’ families.
Coun Heptinstall said he’d been inspired by the work of Dr John Settle, the specialist who founded the unit in the 1970s.
He said: “I’ve never forgotten what the burns unit has done for the people of Wakefield.
“Dr Settle used to come to the mines and teach us about treating burns and he did it with other industries as well. What he did for us was fantastic.
“He was an absolute gentleman and a real pillar of society. He was the kind of man you don’t forget.
“When I first started as an apprentice at Parkhill Colliery in 1963, a friend of mine was severely burnt, so I’ve seen the impact those injuries can have.
“I want to raise as much as possible. It will all be used to make things easier for burns patients.”
As part of his ceremonial duties, Coun Heptinstall will attend around 300 events during the next 12 months.
He will be supported by his 18 year-old granddaughter Charlotte, who will serve as Wakefield’s youngest ever mayoress.
Coun Heptinstall, a former miner, said: “To be asked, first of all, to be the mayor is a great honour. There’s 332,000 people across the Wakefield district and when you think about that it makes you realise what a big responsibility it is.”