From Buckhaven to York’s Lord Mayor

Cllr Ian Gillies, formerly of Buckhaven and now Rt Hon Lord Mayor of the City of York, with his wife Pat (picture by Simon Miles Photography)
Cllr Ian Gillies, formerly of Buckhaven and now Rt Hon Lord Mayor of the City of York, with his wife Pat (picture by Simon Miles Photography)

The job is half done for former Levenmouth man Ian Gillies – in the sense that he’s midway through his term as Lord Mayor of a city with a heritage among the richest in the UK.

Councillor Gillies was born in Buckhaven and his father was a former butcher at Methil Co-op.

However, today, the grandfather of four is the Right Honourable Lord Mayor of the City of York – a title second only in prestige to City of London.

He began the new year with a number of aims and ambitions for his remaining four months in office.

Cllr Gillies (68) left Levenmouth as a young boy but retains a fond feeling for the area he still calls home.

“I was originally from Buckhaven – Randolph Street, then the post-war prefabs in Falcon Road,” he explained.

“My father was one of 12 children brought up in Wellesley Street, Methil, and my mother (maiden name Logie) was from a family of 
fishermen and miners (Wellesley).

“I attended Buckhaven Primary School and St David’s Sunday School and I was a big fan of East Fife,” he added.

“Charlie Fleming was my hero and I still follow their results to this day.

“I left the area when I was about eight years old to move to Wishaw for a short period, and then York.

“My dad was a butcher at Methil Co-op and later became the manager of 30-plus Co-op butchers in York.

“We returned to the area several times a year.

“All my family, with the exception of my father, are in East Wemyss cemetery, but I have lost touch with everyone since the death of my parents in 1979-80, although I still visit the cemetery.”

These days, Cllr Gillies has a mansion house residence in the centre of the city and has carried out around 400 engagements so far during his year as Lord Mayor, including involvement with the Tour de France.

He served with the Metropolitan Police in Chelsea in the mid-1960s and later became the coroner’s officer back in North Yorkshire.

At the end of the 1970s, he entered self-employment in the retail and financial sectors and became national sales manager with the Reliance Mutual Insurance Company in 1984.

After retirement, Cllr Gillies entered local government and was elected as a councillor in York in 2007, being installed immediately as Conservative group leader.

He stood down to fulfil a long-held ambition to become Lord Mayor for 2014-15.

He said he was very proud to be in the position, with York being one of only two citites – London the other – where Lord Mayor was prefixed by the ‘Right Honourable’ title.

He is a director of the tourist board in York, and he and his colleagues hope to continue raising the city’s international profile.

Although long interested in politics, Cllr Gillies said he was not a politician with a capital ‘p’.

He wanted to ensure York remained a successful city, while he was heavily involved with two charities and hoped to achieve as much as he could on their behalf as well.

York had almost – but not quite – full employment and Cllr Gillies hoped to help keep its economic viability strong and attract new investment to the city.