A “SIMPLE sailor” was sworn in as Mayor of Christchurch at a ceremony at Highcliffe Castle.

Long-standing borough councillor John Lofts, who serves the Highcliffe ward and is known affectionately among his colleagues as “young John the simple sailor”, became mayor at the council’s annual meeting at Highcliffe Castle.

He was elected on to the borough council in 1987 and to Dorset County Council in 1989, where he remained for 20 years.

Cllr Lofts served on the police authority for 13 years and also on the Dorset Pension Fund. He has also served as a governor of both the Highcliffe schools and their predecessors for more than 20 years. Three years ago he was appointed as an honorary freeman of the borough.

Cllr Lofts said: “When looking at our boards of past mayors in the council chamber starting in 1297, I fully recognise my insignificance in this process.

“I feel deeply honoured to be rejoining this list.”

He added: “Although we are small, we are an ambitious and hard-working council and I am pleased with the way we are responding to the considerable challenges which lie before us.”

Born in Dartford, Kent in 1931, he joined the ITNT College, HMS Worcester in 1945 in order to go to sea, which he did in 1948.

He obtained his Masters FG Certificate in 1957 and then worked for the General Post Office, which later became BT, retiring in 1985 as Marine Superintendent.

With his family – wife Muriel and son Alan – he moved to Highcliffe in 1976. Muriel passed away four years ago but he still lives in Highcliffe.

His chosen charities for the year ahead will be the RNLI, Autism Wessex and the Priory Capital Development Fund.

Cllr Loft’s mayoress will be Margaret Wooley.

Outgoing mayor, Cllr Peter Hall and his wife Sally were thanked for their hard work throughout their mayoral year.

Deputy mayor Cllr Denise Jone was also sworn in.