I was privileged to become Lord Mayor last May.

The end of Covid restrictions revived invitations that had lapsed.

I visited many community groups and hard-pressed charities, whose work filling gaps created by government cuts deserves much more praise, as does all the hard work done by volunteers.

I was particularly touched by the support I received in raising money for my charities Aspire, Asylum Welcome, and Emmaus.

Oxford Mail: Lord Mayor James Fry at a street partyLord Mayor James Fry at a street party (Image: Contributed)

There were numerous university invitations, concerts, and celebrations of Oxford’s twinning links.

All this with superb support from council officers.

It has been demanding.

I have attended hundreds of official engagements alongside my normal council duties and a busy full-time job, but I was very fortunate to have been able to observe some years ago the Lord Mayor’s term of my wife, Susanna Pressel.

This year I benefited hugely from her role as chairwoman of the county council, enabling us to go together to most events.

What have I learnt?

I knew about Oxford’s diversity but was struck by the welcomes I received from relatively recent arrivals in the city: Nepalese, Tamils, Ugandans, Rwandans, Filipinos, Chinese, Turkish...and the welcomes, too, from many religious congregations.

Oxford Mail: James Fry on the far right in picture with his wife Susanna Pressel on the leftJames Fry on the far right in picture with his wife Susanna Pressel on the left (Image: Contributed)

This contrasted with apparent shyness by residents’ associations and schools about inviting me to visit in my splendid regalia.

They missed an opportunity to enjoy some of the pomp associated with the city over centuries.

What did I most enjoy and what do I regret?

I particularly enjoyed the visits to the groups I mentioned and to university colleges, as well as the wonder I saw in the eyes of primary school children.

My hosts over-estimated my power, but with Susanna’s help, I hope we tackled some of the issues raised with us.

One theme that characterises the Lord Mayor’s role is tradition.

People really appreciate the connection with the past.

I am Jewish but it is ironic that I have probably read more lessons in churches than anyone else in the last year!

High points during the year undoubtedly included visiting street parties across the city to celebrate the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, followed by the grand proclamation of the accession of the new King.

The Coronation comes near the end of my term but sadly it brings a regret.

For 700 years the Mayor of Oxford was assistant butler at the Coronation.

This year that role was ended abruptly.

My regret is not for selfish reasons but because the vital work of local government in Oxford and elsewhere should be acknowledged and traditions like a role at the Coronation demonstrate this.