Councillor Neil Knowles has been elected as Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead for the 2023/24 civic year, with Councillor Simon Bond as Deputy Mayor.
He took on the ceremonial, non-political role on Tuesday following a vote at the annual council meeting, held in the Council Chamber of The Guildhall, Windsor.
He received the robes and chain from former Councillor Christine Bateson, who has served as Mayor since May 2022.
As first citizen of the borough, Cllr Knowles will chair full council meetings and represent the Royal Borough, and its people, at functions both inside and outside of the area, accompanied by his wife Teresa as the Mayoress.
Originally from Newcastle-Under-Lyme, he moved with his military family to Windsor at an early age before being posted around Europe and Asia. The family returned to Windsor, where he attended the then Dedworth Green Secondary School. He joined the Army and The Life Guards straight from school and served in Windsor, Cyprus, Germany, Canada before again returning to Windsor.
He became an Army Helicopter Pilot in the Army Air Corps serving in hostile environments around the world before retiring from Regular Service, although he continued to serve in the Reserves retiring as a Squadron Leader.
A new career as a radio and TV presenter and producer for the BBC and commercial radio beckoned before joining the British Forces Broadcasting Service. He eventually moved into project management, administration, and financial management in the education sector. He and Teresa have a son, Sam, and a grandson, Max.
A ward councillor for Old Windsor since May 2019, Cllr Knowles is very active in the community. He has run Windsor Air Cadets for some years, is a school governor at St Peter’s CofE Middle School, and is a trustee of Old Windsor almshouses. A strong advocate for veterans, he resurrected the Windsor and District Royal BritishLegion Branch and established the local Armed Forces Veterans breakfast club. He keeps military links by being a member of the Flemish Farm-based Light Cavalry, the Honorable Artillery Company, and is a member of the Historic Army Aircraft flight.
Cllr Knowles said: “As a councillor who was brought up in Windsor, I am very proud to become the Mayor of the Royal Borough and I look forward to meeting people, organisations, and community groups throughout the next year.”
The outgoing Mayor Christine Bateson, whose consort was her son Richard, is also retiring from 28 years’ service as a borough councillor. She said of her ceremonial role: “I have been very lucky to have attended some truly special and historic events. Last year I attended functions to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. It was a wonderful start to what has proved to be an interesting and extremely enjoyable 12 months.
“Sadly, Her Majesty passed away in September but again I felt privileged to go to London to see the lying-in state and to attend the service in St George’s Chapel following the funeral procession.
“I was also involved in the Proclamation for His Majesty the King, went to Buckingham Palace to present a Loyal Address to him and attended the recent Coronation BBC concert in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
“Although I have enjoyed these high-profile events, I have also found all my other engagements of great interest and enjoyment too.
“I have opened new stores, attended many charity meetings, visited day centres and schools, attended community events throughout the Borough and met some amazing people – we are indeed blessed with literally hundreds of volunteers in this area who make the Borough a better place for us all.”
Cllr Simon Bond is the new Deputy Mayor, and his consort is David Armitage. They take over from the outgoing deputy Mayor Gary Muir who has been in the role for four years, along with the deputy Mayoress Caron Muir.