RETIRED engineer Alan Cottam said he was looking forward to being Blackburn with Darwen’s first citizen for the next 12 months.

Grandfather of three Coun Cottam became the mayor of the borough during a ceremony in the town hall last night.

And the 77-year-old, who has been married to Agnes for 54 years, said he had chosen to raise cash for the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association (SSFA) and East Lancashire Hospice during his mayoral year.

He said: “It will be an interesting year and I am looking forward to it.

“Obviously I have never done it before and I won’t do it again, but in the next 100 years only 100 people will have that job.

“It is a unique job and it is an honour for me.

“I believe it is hard work as there are about 450 dates in the year, although I have done quite a few as deputy so I have done my basic training.”

Coun Cottam lives in Pleasington, the ward he has represented on the council since 1997, and has two daughters, Julia and Deborah and three grandchildren, Mark, Ellen and David. He first came to Blackburn in 1970, having been brought up in Bury, but his dad was from Blackburn and his mum from Edgworth.

He was an engineer by trade, mainly in the paper industry, and his last job was as managing director of Smurfits in Burnley. He has been an ever-present on the council since being elected and was executive member for regeneration from 2008 to 2010.

He also served in the Army during National Service, which is why he chose SSFA as one of his charities.He said: “I was once a bodyguard for a general in Cyprus, which was a very good job.

“I also chose East Lancashire Hospice as a local charity as they need to raise £3million a year and we hope we can help them along the way.”