Sunderland is welcoming a new Mayor Councillor Dorothy Trueman, who was kind enough to sit down for a chat to discuss life, work and leisure…

Mayor Dorothy Trueman was officially sworn in as Sunderland Mayor at a meeting of the full council (Wednesday 17 May), with her husband Councillor Harry Trueman, who will serve alongside her.

She began her working life at Pyrex as an office clerk, where she met her husband Harry, and then went on to work in post offices and the Sunderland Crown office for 20 years.

Fast forward to today, Sunderland is lucky to have a Mayor as compassionate and kind as Councillor Dorothy Truman.

As we sit down to have a chat about her life, work and leisure, it becomes apparent – there isn’t a more suitable person for such an important position and Sunderland is in great hands. Ones, that have been in the council since 2010; ones that are full of positivity, humbleness and wit.

Mayor Councillor Dorothy Trueman1

What are some of your favourite downtime activities?

Downtime for me is the simple things in life. Walking, reading, and of course, when we can – holidays.

This year, mayoral duties come first. I didn’t want to book any holidays this summer because I want to dedicate myself fully to the role. Maybe next year, though!

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I always wanted to work in an office. I got my wish when I started working at Pyrex as an office clerk. That is where I met my husband Harry.

I think everyone’s got some talent. Everyone has something. I always thought mine was in an office. Later in life, I developed a likeness to maths, so I went to work on the post office counter in Sunderland and I stayed there for 20 years. I loved it.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Just to be myself. I think as you’re growing up you always want to look like someone else, be like someone else, but as you get older you understand the importance of just being yourself. Everyone has a talent for something and everyone is special in their own ways.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

A visit to Santorini! I’ve been wanting to go there for years, it just looks so peaceful and calm. Maybe next year!

What is your most treasured possession?

I would have to say, things that my children made me. They carry a lot of sentimental value to me.

What do your weekends look like?

I mostly just try to catch up with my shopping! Sometimes I’ll open the fridge and think “Oh dear, there’s no milk”. Off to do some shopping!

Weekends are also mostly family time. Sometimes the whole family comes around and we just spend time together and catch up. Nothing better than that. It recharges me for the week ahead.

Which living person do you most admire and why?

There are some famous people that have done amazing things, but I most admire people in our communities that don’t get the headlines, such as volunteers. They go out of their way to help people just because they want to, not because they want headlines.

These are the people I admire most.

Who would be your top three dinner guests?

That’s a hard question! Mostly, because you need to figure out the dynamics between those three guests, to make sure they all get on!

It would be lovely to meet Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. They have done an amazing job, both of them.

I think my third guest would have to be Bradley Walsh. He’s got a great sense of humour.

I think those three would be a good mix. They would have to come after I’ve done my shopping, though! On a Sunday, perhaps!

The last book you read?

I love reading and I’ll read any book. I like detective stories.

The last one I read was “The Last Widow” by Karin Slaughter. It was a fabulous book.


Mayoral Duties


How does it feel to take on such an important position as a Mayor of Sunderland?

It’s a privilege and an honour. It can be a little bit daunting because every day is different, but we have an amazing mayoral team behind us. They make sure we’re always on time and we are where we need to be – they keep us right. So yes, it can be a little bit daunting but at the same time, it’s lovely.

What does a day in the life of Sunderland’s Mayor look like?

It differs daily. One day you can be doing citizenship ceremonies in the city hall, the next day you’re going to an event to support other mayors. In the region, all mayors support each other for their charities, so if they have an event, and there isn’t one in Sunderland, we’ll go out and support them.

Sunderland always comes first, though.

The first day I was inaugurated we went to Veterans In Crisis, and then we were at St. Peter’s Church for Ascension Day, so it can be a lot and no day is the same, but it’s good to have some variation. I must admit, I especially love citizenship ceremonies, they’re just amazing.

You have chosen two local charities to support during your time in office: Special Lioness and Hug in a Bag. Could you tell us a little bit more about them and why you chose them?

My husband Harry had them when he was mayor. Unfortunately, Covid happened during his time in the office, so we only really had about six or seven months to raise money for them. We ended up raising £12,000, so £6,000 each and we just felt like we could have done more.

Because of the pandemic, Harry had to cancel a lot of charity events and dinners so we didn’t feel these charities had a fair chance and this is why I chose them.

Special Lioness is a local charity that was started by two mums of children with life-limiting conditions. It’s a support community for parents and carers to share knowledge and advice, to build friendships not only for parents that are in similar situations but for children too.

They throw fundraising events and prom nights because unfortunately some of these children have a short life expectancy so they might not reach the age to attend their actual prom. But the charity does amazing work.

Hug In A Bag is a charity for anyone with breast cancer that was started by a mum who also had it. They make these fantastic care packages that are worth £80 of products and include leaflets with medical information, cushions for their arm, head scarves, pens and paper, toiletries, candles etc.

These packages are also tailored for men because men get breast cancer too but for some reason, it’s less talked about.

Unfortunately, the mum who started this charity has passed away and it was put on the back burner for about a year, and then our daughter and her husband started it up again.

You are no stranger to Mayoral duties, having served as Deputy Mayor and as Mayoress when your husband Harry Trueman was Mayor of Sunderland, does your current role feel any different or do you feel rather at home?

In one way, I feel at home, but at the same time, it’s different now. I’m at the front and I’m the one making speeches, so it feels a bit weird sometimes. But nice weird!

I’m a bit shaky when it comes to speeches, but I think the more I do it, the more relaxed I’ll become. Harry used to always go off-script when he was making speeches and I used to have to kick him because he was going off-topic! I tend to stick to the script.

Any recent ongoing or upcoming projects we should know about?

I have just opened the second Family Hub in Concord and in two weeks time, we will be opening another one. These are great spaces for families with children that have special needs, providing support in terms of parenting, midwifery support, early language development, debt and welfare advice, perinatal mental health and more.

Of course, we have the Triathlon coming up so that’s very exciting. I was there last year and it was brilliant. Would be great if the weather stayed sunny and warm, we need bright sunshine!

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