It’s lift off time for Marlborough’s new hang gliding mayor
Monday night was take off time for Alexander Kirk Wilson. That’s when he donned the immaculate red robes and golden chain of Mayor of Marlborough, an historic moment for a man whose hobby is hang gliding.
“I never ever contemplated being mayor of this town, absolutely not at all,” he told me. “I mean it is a very ancient office, dating back to 1320 or whenever.”
“And it’s part of a huge heritage, something you can see when you drive down the London road and see the prehistoric landscape that surrounds Marlborough.”
For 66-year-old Alexander it was a sublime moment, something as thrilling as his active days with the Thames Valley Hanging Gliding Club, one of foremost in the country, which took him as far as Spain for hang gliding expeditions.
“I think every boy of spirit who experienced the 1950s was captivated by aviation,” he explained. “I always wanted to fly. As a slip of a lad I used to go down to the Farnborough Air Show in a charabanc from Lancashire, and the whole process was wonderful to see all those planes close up and watch them flying.”
“And it’s been the same ever since. It is absolutely magical being up in the air, like having the best model railway set in the world all to yourself.”
But, alas, due to a back injury, he now checks the safety of sites for others. He insists too that there will be no mayoral flight of fancy. “No, unfortunately not,” he said. “I’m afraid that’s not on.”
There are other vital items on the agenda for the ebullient Oxford PPE graduate, who became a chartered accountant after early adventures as a VSO supporter teaching English in Dacca and Bangledesh before returning home overland via Baluchistan and Iran.
He worked in engineering first, even for a firm memorably named Porn and Dunwoody (Lifts) Ltd, before going into finance and ending up bursar at Downe House, the boarding school near Newbury where Catherline Middleton was once a pupil.
Losing that job – and his wife, Ruth, who left him and their two musicals son – he sold their London home and linked up with his widowed mother, Ruth, in Marlborough, shortly before she died in 1994. And ended up making the town his home.
His support for the Lib-Dems in their opposition to the war in Iraq resulted in him having the chance to be co-opted on to Marlborough Town Council and, subsequently, becoming an elected member.
He has a played his role in the community as chair of the Kennet Community minibus committee, as a member of the board of Marlborough’s Merchant’s House and the Jubilee Centre. He is also a driving tutor for RoSPA.
As mayor, he will put his support behind an anti-litter campaign aimed at children, and backing the council’s Stonebridge meadow and new allotments projects.