Lord Mayor – Councillor Michael Wilkes
The Lord Mayor was born in Brierley Hill, Staffs in 1941. He attended primary school in Stourbridge and, at secondary level, St Philip’s Grammar School in Edgbaston. Entering the University of Birmingham in 1959, he specialised in Economics, graduating in 1962. He joined the academic staff the same year, subsequently gaining a PhD in 1977. While mostly at The University of Birmingham until his retirement in 2002, he had secondments to Aston University and Northwestern University in the USA.
He moved to Birmingham in 1968, living for two years in Moseley. He married Vivienne (nee Sawyer) in 1970 and they set up home in Hall Green where they have lived ever since. They have three sons and one granddaughter. Always interested in domestic politics and international affairs, intermittent helping out with Liberals at election time turned to major commitment with the formation of the SDP/Liberal Alliance in 1981.
He went on to win the Hall Green seat in 1984, remaining on the Council until 1992. During the period off the Council, he became Head of the School of Social Sciences at The University of Birmingham from 1988 to 1991 and Dean of the Faculty of Commerce and Social Science from 1991 to 1995.
He returned to the City Council in 2000 and chaired the Co-ordinating Overview and Scrutiny Committee from 2004 to 2006. He led scrutiny reviews including the Highways PFI, the Role of Members and the Full Council, Mobile Telecommunications and Devolution. He has served on numerous council committees and groups, most recently Public Protection, Trusts and Charities and the Electoral Matters Members Forum, which he chaired until 2009. In Hall Green, he has served on many local groups and is a governor at four schools including Hall Green School, where he has been a governor for over twenty years.
Prompted by Vivienne’s long interest in the life and works of JRR Tolkien, he has been active in promoting awareness of Tolkien (whose family were Birmingham people and who lived in Birmingham in his formative years) and his unique connections to the City. He currently chairs the Birmingham Tolkien Group.
Michael is immensely proud to be a citizen of Birmingham – and a Brummie by adoption! Both he and Vivienne, a Brummie by birth, consider it to be the greatest of honours to have the opportunity as first citizens to promote and serve the people of Birmingham, their industry and culture.
Lady Mayoress – Mrs Vivienne Wilkes
The Lady Mayoress was born at Sorrento Maternity Hospital in 1945 and attended Grendon Road Primary School, Swanshurst Grammar School and Hall Green Technical College. She has lived in Birmingham all her life apart from a year working in administration at the University of California at Berkeley near San Francisco. It was here she first came across the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, developing an interest that has remained with her ever since.She met Michael while working at the Graduate Centre for Management Studies, a joint venture by Aston and Birmingham Universities. They were married in 1970. They had twin boys, John and David, followed three years later by Stephen.
Vivienne’s involvement with the local community started when she became secretary of the Webb Lane Action Committee. She has always had a deep involvement with amateur dramatics, acting, writing and directing plays, pantomimes and large scale musicals and developing a youth drama group. She is co-organiser for the annual Middle-earth Weekend.Vivienne worked for several years at Springfield Environmental Studies Centre near Knowle, a day centre for visiting Birmingham children with special needs. She later changed jobs to follow her interest in Birmingham’s history by becoming a tour guide on the open top buses that circled Birmingham for a few years and later spent several years as a guide at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
Vivienne has supported and helped Michael in all of his campaigns. She is a member of The Shire Country Park Friends and regularly attends the workdays of the Moseley Bog Conservation Group. Their wide range of interests have interwoven throughout their married life, even seeing Michael treading the boards in a few productions! In 2010 they will celebrate their Ruby Wedding.
Birmingham has had a Mayor (and elected council) since 1838. One of the most famous was Joseph Chamberlain
(1873-76) who brought water from the Elan Valley and redeveloped the town centre. In 1889, along with city status, Birmingham had its first Lord Mayor.
Each Lord Mayor stands for a year, and is installed into office at the Annual Meeting of the City Council, Lord Mayors are non-political and non-executive during their term of office and act as Chair of the Council. As the First Citizen of Birmingham, the Lord Mayors represents not only the City but also the people of Birmingham.