Former Commando Jeff is new county council chairman

Exmouth councillor Jeff Trail

Exmouth councillor Jeff Trail is Devon County Council's new chairman - Credit: Daniel Clark

A former Royal Marine who has dedicated his life to serving others has been elected as the chairman of Devon County Council.
Cllr Jeff Trail BEM, who represents the Exmouth ward, and was first elected to the council in 2017, was unanimously elected to the ceremonial role at Thursday’s annual council meeting.
He is the first Royal Marine to be appointed to the role, and he said that he was proud to have been given the honour and privilege to serve the people of Devon.
The Conservative councillor in 2016 had been awarded British Empire Medal for services to the local community, with achievements including founding the Brixington Blues Youth Football Club, helping to establish the Exmouth Youth Football League, creating the Brixington and Bystock Group, as well as coordinating the annual Exmouth Armed Forces Day and reintroducing the Royal Marines’ Beat Retreat to the town.
Speaking at Thursday’s meeting, Cllr Trail said: “I wish to thank you for the nominations and the vote of support to be chairman of the council and for the kind words which included my dear wife and family and the second family of the Royal Marines.
“But I want to thank the people of Devon for the people who have worked through the pandemic to the guidelines and we have been one of the best regions to overcome the terrible virus. Some families have lost a loved one so please accept my thoughts and prayers.
“I want to praise the NHS, the emergency services and key workers, and all of these people have kept the nation going through sheer hard work and determination, and had the public not adhered to the guidelines and the rollout of inoculations begun, we would not be here today.
“As a former Royal Marine, I want to thank the local communities, our friends and families who have supported each and every one of us, and as a Royal Marine leading from the front, it will be my intention to champion all those serving and for Devon County Council, with your help and assistance. to strive for the gold standard of the Armed Forces covenant.
“I want to thank you all for giving me the honour and privilege to provide my service to the people and communities of Devon and its visitors, and I am here to assist everyone and my door will be open any time day or night.”
Nominating him, his fellow ward councillor Cllr Richard Scott said: “He is a true community champion and a true friend. He is the most trustworthy person I know and a father figure and a trusted colleague, and I cannot offer higher praise for Jeff.
“His true quality is around people and in this position he will shine and when you go out for a pint with him, the whole population of Exmouth wants to shake his hand.
“He is a man of integrity and decency and he is a man who genuinely cares, and it is an honour for the Royal Marines to have of their own as chairman of this council, and I look forward to having a pint to celebrate tonight.”
Seconding the nomination, Cllr Christine Channon, added: “He is a person of integrity and a team player, and will be a great ambassador for Devon for the next 12 months.”
Cllr Debo Sellis, who represents the Tavistock ward, was elected as the vice-chairman of the council, and she said: “I am overwhelmed, which is simply the feeling I am experiencing at the moment. I am shaking and I was calm until I heard the kind words. We are here to represent the community and this is a terrific honour.”
And councillors also paid tribute to the outgoing chairman of the council, Cllr Stuart Barker, who after 20 years on the council, decided to stand down from his role ahead of May’s local elections.
Cllr Barker, whose year as chairman of the council was carried out almost exclusively virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, said: “The time has come to discover if my boat is still afloat and get out on her more often. I have enjoyed my time, and I hope all of you have such a great time and enjoy it, so there is no need to fall out with anyone as we are all in it together for the people of Devon, always have been and always will be.”
 

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