Skip to main content

Lord Mayor

Lord Mayor of Plymouth

The Lord Mayor and the Lord Mayor’s Office are the council’s chief custodians of civic pride and its champions of community cohesion. We also support others in the council and the community to celebrate all that is good about life in Plymouth.

The Office of Lord Mayor is representational by nature, this means that the Lord Mayor holds no executive powers and the office of Lord Mayor is fundamentally apolitical, neutral and independent. This is one of its greatest strengths and means that the Lord Mayor can represent all sections of the community as First Citizen without fear or favour. 

At the same time the office of Lord Mayor carries its own unique set of rights and historic entitlements.  For example, the Lord Mayor of Plymouth has long been recognised as being second only to Royalty and to the King's Deputy, the Lord Lieutenant or the Representative Deputy Lieutenant.

This means that the Lord Mayor has unlimited rights to precedence in the City and is always afforded due dignity and respect as the most important person in attendance at public events, save those where a member of The Royal Family and His Majesty’s Deputy is present. For civic events within the City boundaries where the King’s Deputy is present, but not a member of the Royal Family, the Lord Mayor enjoys precedence over all as First Citizen.

The Lord Mayor must be a serving councillor and each year the Conservative Party and the Labour Party (the two main political parties that make up the City Council) take in turns to hold the position. The Lord Mayor nominates their Deputy Lord Mayor.

The Role of Lord Mayor

The Lord Mayor is chosen by the other councillors who serve on the council and is elected in May each year at the annual meeting of the City Council.

The Lord Mayor has two important roles, a ceremonial role and as chair of City Council meetings.


  • Supports the community
  • Promotes the interests of the council and the city

Chair of City Council meetings

  • Makes sure all points of view are fairly heard
  • Makes sure council members follow rules and procedures
  • Has the casting vote if there is a tied vote

The Lord Mayor also hosts a series of civic events over the course of the year and presides over a number of high profile civic ceremonial events.

Invitations to events

You can invite the Lord Mayor or Deputy Lord Mayor to an event or function, we need to receive your invitation at least three weeks before the event.

The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress
Councillor Mark Shayer and Mrs Samantha Shayer

Lord Mayor Mark Shayer and Lady Mayoress Mrs Shayer

Mark was born in Gosport Hampshire. His father was a Chief Stoker in the Royal Navy and the family soon moved to the Tamar Valley, as his father joined a Devonport based ship. Mark grew up in Tamar Valley and then went to the Royal Hospital School, known as the Cradle of the Navy. Upon leaving school he joined the Royal Navy, where he served on 3 ships before joining the Submarine Service, where he served as an Engineer on 5 submarines over the course of nearly 25 years.

Mark studied Engineering and after leaving the Navy, gained a Master’s in Business at Plymouth University. On leaving the Service in 2000, he joined Devonport Royal Dockyard as a Project Manager. Over the course of nearly 20 years, Mark carried out numerous roles within the Dockyard, the last being Business Improvement and finally retired in 2020.

Mark is married to Sam and they have 4 generations of family living within his Ward. A daughter who lives close by, with three grandchildren.  He also has a son, with three grandchildren, who live in Queensland Australia.

Mark was elected to the Budshead Ward in 2022 and he is extremely proud to represent it. He has, until recently, been Cabinet member with responsibility for Human Resources, Economic Development and Finance, as well representing Plymouth on the Devon & Somerset Fire Authority. He feels extremely privileged and honoured to sit on the Board of the Four Greens Trust and the Drake Foundation to make as positive a contribution to the Ward as he can. Mark is also the Joint Chair for the Mount Edgcumbe Trust Board, a fact that both he and his Cornish wife Sam, are very proud of.

Sam grew up in Cawsand and moved to Plymouth at 16 for work.  Sam is a qualified Information Governance practitioner and has worked in administration and information governance roles for a variety of companies, including the NHS. Sam currently works for a local charity involved with hyperbaric medicine, where she has been for the last 10 years.

Mark and Sam enjoy many pastimes, including live music, theatre, travel, motor-homing and spending time with their family and friends. Of special note is their pets, which include multiple cats and a Rottweiler called Khali, who Mark has shown at Crufts.

The Deputy Lord Mayor and Consort
Councillor Kathy Watkins and Councillor Dr John Mahony

Deputy lord Mayor Kathy Watkins and Councillor Dr John Mahony

Kathy was born in Shropshire, her Father was Methodist Minister who served in different parts of the UK.  Kathy has a long association with Plymouth since her father was posted to Launceston Cornwall in the early 1950s and one of her earliest memories is shopping in Plymouth amongst the debris and building works in the City Centre. The Family often returned to Cornwall on holiday and visited Plymouth during their stays.  It was a childhood ambition of Kathy’s to return to Plymouth to live one day.

She was educated at Grammar Schools in South Wales and Cheshire and then continued her education at a boarding school in Southport, Lancashire.  She then went on to train as a speech and language therapist in Chelsea, London.  Continuing her career in Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Sussex.

A change in career direction she her study Law at Bristol Polytechnic and the College of Law in Guildford. She carried out her practical training at Gill Akaster in Plymouth where she stayed post qualification.  In the 1980s and 1990s she was a partner at Nash and Co in the City.  From 2001 until her retirement in 2014 she had her own legal practice.

Kathy’s association with the Conservative Party in Plymouth goes back more than 25 years.  She was elected as a City Councillor for the Plymstock Radford Ward in 2019 and continues to serve to the present day. In addition to serving on the Planning Committee of which she was Vice Chair in 2022-2023) she has also sat on the Licensing Committee, Budget Scrutiny Committee, Health and Wellbeing Board and The Corporate Parenting group.

Outside politics and her work for the City Council, she enjoys Arts and Crafts, Theatre, Organising travel itineraries, walking in the countryside, meeting up with friends and belongs to a local Painting Group.  She has shared her life with cats and dogs in the past but is currently not a pet owner.

Her Consort for the year is Councillor Dr John Mahony who introduced her to the Conservative Party in Plymouth, having been involved in party politics since his teens. He is Plymouth born and bred, attended Devonport High School for Boys and trained as a doctor in Bristol. He has served as Deputy Lord Mayor 2003-2004 and Lord Mayor 2015-2016.  Kathy says “His input will be invaluable during my year as Deputy Lord Mayor”.

The Lord Mayor’s Office

The Mayoralty is supported by a small civic team which advises the Lord Mayor in their role as First Citizen and ambassador of the City.  The team also leads a comprehensive annual programme of civic engagements.

Over the course of the year the office arranges a varied programme of events and activities aimed at promoting community cohesion through civic engagement.  These are in addition to the day to day diary of engagements carried out by the Lord Mayor or those deputising on the Lord Mayor’s behalf.

The Lord Mayor’s Office is also responsible for the organisation of an annual programme of civic events including:

  • The Inauguration of the Lord Mayor (Lord Mayor’s Choosing) which is incorporated as part of the Annual Meeting of the Council in May of each year
  • Armed Forces Day/VE Day
  • Annual Survey of the Waterworks and Fishing Feast
  • Remembrance Sunday
  • Lord Mayor’s Carol Service
  • Holocaust Memorial Day
  • Commonwealth Flag Raising
  • Lord Mayor’s Civic Church Service

The Office is also responsible for arranging special ceremonies where the City’s highest honours, The Honorary Freedom of the City of Plymouth, are presented.  In addition, the office also manages all ceremonial arrangements for conferring the title of Honorary Alderman on councillors who have served 15 years on the Council.

If you would like any further information or wish to invite the Lord Mayor to attend and speak at your event or activity, contact the Lord Mayor’s Office, email  

Coat of arms – Plymouth City

The armorial bearings of the Corporation of Plymouth symbolise much of the history of the city. The arms display the Cross of St Andrew to whom the Mother Church of Plymouth is dedicated, and also the four turrets which formed the corners of the Castle Quadrate which stood above the Barbican commanding the entrants to Sutton Pool. The description in heraldic language is Argent, a saltire vert between four towers sable.
The Crest is a blue naval crown with a red anchor held in a golden lions paw. Two other naval crowns form collars for the lion supporters. Both crown and anchor were part of the crest of the former County Borough of Devonport. Here is represented the part which the Royal Navy has played in the life of the city.

Council identity mark

The current city identity mark derives from elements of the armorial bearings

Past Lord Mayors

Our Mayors and Lord Mayors dating back to 1439 is available on our list of past Lord Mayors page.