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Friday, 25 July 2014

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Is Cumbrian man, 21, set to be youngest mayor in the country?

When you think of a town mayor you will probably imagine a venerable old gentlemen.

But Workington will make a break with tradition when 21-year-old Andrew Lawson of Napier Street steps into the role in May, becoming probably the youngest mayor in the country.

Sporting a sharp suit and with blond highlights in his hair, Andrew couldn’t be further away from most people’s image of local politics. But what he may lack in experience, he makes up in passion and enthusiasm.

Andrew, who counts Tony Blair among his heroes, said: “I’m really looking forward to it [becoming mayor] but at the same time I’m nervous.

“I want to help young people to have more of a say in things and for them to get more out of politics.”

He added: “During the riots young people got a lot of bad press. But it wasn’t all of us.

“A lot more people came out to clean up than came out to riot and many of those were young people.

“We can be a force for good in the world. I have a voice so I might as well use it for something good.”

Andrew, who is the youngest ever Workington town councillor, has politics in his blood. His great grandfather, Joe Scott, was a union man for British Steel and a borough councillor.

“I don’t think I ever met him but it’s given me a drive to carry it on in the family.

“The stories I have heard about him have inspired me to do something.”

Andrew also hopes to inspire more young people to get into politics which is one reason why schools have been invited to the mayor-making ceremony in May.

He has grown massively in confidence since he was appointed as deputy in May.

Andrew has chaired council meetings and attended various public functions to prepare him for his role as mayor when he will meet and greet visiting dignitaries.

When the then mayor Mel Pettit died unexpectedly in July last year, there was talk of Andrew taking over.

But he had only been on the town council for two months and it was agreed that the more seasoned Nicholas Hardy should step into the role.

You are just as likely to see Andrew pulling pints for punters in the town’s Wetherspoons as you are at meetings and events.

And although much of his time is taken up with council business but he still finds time to go out and socialise.

“I still enjoy being young and going out with friends.

“But I have always got to think ahead, about how you are expected to act in public.

“My friends think it’s mad and take the mick out of me. Sometimes they forget what I do. They are all really supportive too.”

Andrew will stand in the next county and Allerdale council elections. In May, he missed out on a seat on Allerdale council for Seaton by a mere 55 votes.

He had not decided yet whether he will stand as an MP one day but nor has he ruled it out.

“I couldn’t sit in an office. I think I will go into politics but whether I become an MP or not I don’t know just yet though everyone is saying I’m going to be.”

And at 21, he has plenty of time to make up his mind.

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