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Lord Mayor's biography

Lord Mayor's biography

Councillor Karen Robinson

I was born in Wallsend at the Green, in 1961, were I lived with my parents and younger brother.  Luckily I grew up in a loving family with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who all made my childhood happy, safe and secure.  I thought everyone's childhood was like mine, however it wasn't until I grew older that I realised others were no as lucky.

I was educated at the Western Infants then the Buddle Middle (probably where my love of drama started), however my parents and family may have an earlier date in mind, and then on to the Burnside High.  I still have contact with friends from those early days.  I must admit I didn't take schooling too seriously and more than one school report said "Karen needs to differentiate between the classroom and the playground".

My first job was a Wallsend Sports Centre, but it wasn't long until I wanted to go further afield, and I decided to go to Greece to work.  After a motorbike accident I found myself back in the Northeast to recoup but afte3r a year of so I headed back to Greece again.  The accident didn't give me a fear of bikes, more to my parent's concern when given the opportunity to ride from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls and back in 1992, I jumped at the chance.

After about 6 years in Greece, I decided I would come back home, however, I still had itchy feet and though I'd go to London.  I worked at Bunch Publishers which evolved into Dennis Publishing as picture editor and mail order manager.  After a further 6 years in London, I returned to the Northeast again and worked in computer distribution at Mac Accessory Centre for 10 years.

I met my husband Billy in 1995 and by 2002 we had our son, my best achievement.

I had no plans to get involved in politics but before I knew it, I was standing in South Heaton as a local councillor.  I didn't know what I was getting into, but it mustn't have been too bad as I'm still a member of council 18 years later.  I have been privileged to work with residents in North Heaton, Dene and Dene and South Gosforth Wards as well as South Heaton.

I take office when our city is facing real challenges.  Life has returned but it's still not clear what the new normal will be.  But Newcastle has faced and overcome challenges in the past.

Sad, bad and issues that make you mad will always exist and we will always be fighting them... that said I want to celebrate the good things, the great things about Newcastle.  The things that bring enjoyment.

The areas I would like to champion this year are food and the arts.  Sounds quite frivolous and light but, both areas that are very important and carry seriousness.

What we consume is what we are.  So, health wise, from cradle to grave, it's important to appreciate and understand food, the differences between good food and not so good food.  Education and the offer we have in Newcastle are areas I will promote.

The arts, performing and creative, helped so many people through the last couple of years.  All forms of entertainment were an important part of our lives, from TV, Radio, music and reading we consume so much without really appreciating the benefits to our mental health and the local economy.

The arts as an industry are more important than we realise and so much bigger than imagined.

Newcastle and the Northeast has influenced so many talented people.  From those in front of the camera to those behind the camera, those writing and performing and all supporting talents and industries.  Whether they were born and bred here or passing through for education.  By nature, or nurture, we have been a nursery for talent, and I want to make sure the rest of the UK knows it.

The charities I'm supporting this year are:

AKT which supports LGBTQ2+ young people aged 16-25 in Newcastle who are facing or experiencing homelessness or living in a hostile environment.

I'm also supporting Show Racism the Red Card because it's another issue which should not be an issue today but sadly still needs a spotlight.

Northern Roots have been working with artists for almost 20 years developing a co-mentoring programme which supports emerging and newly arrived artists through peer support, training, performing opportunities and brokering relationships.

Help Musicians is an independent UK charity for professional musicians of all genres, from starting out through to retirement.  They help at times of crisis, but also at times of opportunity, giving people the extra support they need at a crucial stage that could make or break their career.  And they are keen to have a greater presence in Newcastle and that's why I want to promote them.

Last but no means least... my fantastic...

Twisting Ducks.  Through the arts, my ducks tackle inequalities and improve wellbeing by increasing opportunities for people with learning disabilities and autism to have their voices heard and to contribute to their community.  They use issue-based theatre and art forms to educate and inform, to help people speak up, provoke thought and stimulate change.

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