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Current Mayor

The Mayor of Winchester 2022/2023 Cllr Angela Clear
The Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Russell Gordon-Smith 

Councillor Russell Gordon-Smith is the Mayor of Winchester, having been elected at our annual Mayor Making ceremony on 15 May 2024. He is the 825th Mayor of Winchester. 

The Mayor has chosen four charities to support this year: Hampshire History Trust, St John's Winchester, Sea Cadets and Winchester Radio. You can learn more about each of these organisations on the Mayor's Charities web page.

The Mayoralty of Winchester dates back to 1200.

Mayor's Biography

Russell Gordon-Smith’s biography

I can claim to be a real ‘Hampshire Hog’, having been born on Hampshire Farm in Emsworth in 1950.

My father was in the Army and my childhood was spent in various countries, Germany and subsequently Czechoslovakia and then Spain. My mother had also been brought up in Spain so living and working in foreign places seemed quite normal.

I was educated at Sedbergh School in Yorkshire. We roamed freely over the moors and hills of that wonderful landscape. I ran in the gruelling ten-mile race twice and won it in my final year, 1968, in what were reckoned to be the worst conditions ever, with snow and a gale blowing.

After leaving school I spent a year working on a farm in Norway, before reading History and English Literature at the University of Sheffield. Whilst there I joined the OTC which allowed officer cadets a taste of some of the best parts of military life. After passing the selection I went parachuting with the Army, exhilarating but scary. I bought my first motorcycle in 1968 and have been a keen motorcyclist ever since.

My life took a sideways move, and I trained as a landscape architect, a profession I have followed with enthusiasm ever since 1972. I studied at the erstwhile Thames Polytechnic whilst also working, and found I had entered a fascinating and expanding profession.

By various chances I started working for a Lebanese consultancy, Dar Al Handasah, ‘The House of Engineers’ or more poetically ‘The Haven of Talent’. My work for Dar went on for some years and took me to most of the Middle Eastern countries: Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi, and also to Nigeria. I worked on a range of projects: university sites, roads, town plans, parks, housing, and a couple of zoos. After having gained varied and useful experience, I subsequently worked for many other consultancies, British, German, or American such as WS Atkins, Shankland Cox, Scott Wilson on projects in the Middle East, Hong Kong and Brunei as well as in the UK.

I became very interested in ‘Urban Design’ which might be thought of as the process of creating liveable urban spaces. During my career, overseas experience opened up a job market which was very useful when the economy soured in this country, which it has regularly in the last half-century.

Apart from experiencing very different cultures and developing a global view, I learned firsthand from the civil war in Beirut, the invasion of Kuwait, riots in Bahrain, a coup attempt or two and repressive regimes in a range of other countries, the huge value of democracy and how precious, fragile, and valuable it is. It was a useful experience to talk and work with people who had opinions and a mindset quite contrary to mine.

I have always been interested in design in almost all its aspects. From childhood onward I had loved making things and sometimes inexpertly taking things apart. I found I had a talent for drawing, illustration and painting which was useful in my profession and which I have developed as a hobby.

I was introduced to sailing by my father and have always enjoyed it. The sea is always a challenging environment and every trip an adventure. I have a wonderful memory of sailing my dinghy off Bahrain accompanied by a pod of dolphins!

At the start of my career all design work was done with pen and paper, over the years computer technology has changed all the design professions. Using AutoCAD and other systems, designs of great complexity can be constructed. I am fascinated by the new technology and have tried to keep abreast of it.

Over the years I have tackled major projects in restoring various houses I have lived in, such as re-roofing, plumbing and joinery. I think that a sense of what is practical has helped me run construction projects in this country and overseas, an aspect of the profession I very much enjoyed.

I think it is this practical sense that has led on to my council work too: I joined the Alresford Society, the town’s civic society in 1998 and advised on design and planning issues, one of my great interests. This led to serving on the New Alresford Town Council for six years before progressing to standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate for the ward of Alresford and the Itchen Valley. I have always been a Liberal voter and supporter. It is hardly surprising that, having lived under both a communist and fascist regime, the middle ground attracts me.

My wife, Dinah Ashcroft, has been at the centre of my life since we first met in 1994, when our eyes met over a dustbin outside 2-4 and 6-8 the Soke, in Alresford. A wonderful and committed life followed this seemingly non-descript event!

I have a son who works for a wine importing business in London and a daughter who works in Cambridge on pharmacological research. I have two stepdaughters who both live in Alresford.

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