Where was the Lord Mayor of London Born?

Good Lord - he's from Burnley! John Stuttard's journey from Lancashire lad to Lord Mayor of London involved driving a pink Rolls Royce. Emma Mayoh reports

AS Lord Mayor of London, Burnley-born John Stuttard was cheered through the streets in an ornate gilded coach built in the reign of George II. But ask him about his most memorable journey, and a certain pink Rolls Royce springs to mind. John has come a long way since his early days in Lancashire. He grew up to be a top financial expert, helping to take accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers from just 50 staff to 1,500.

He was also credited with taking then little-known company, Nokia, onto the London stock market. But when the Burnley Football Club fan lists the most memorable moments of his life, the answers are unexpected. 'Looking back, getting to know the Finnish people and their culture while completing the 78km Finlandia ski marathon sticks in my mind and working for Mrs Thatcher on privatizations during the 1980s was very stimulating,' he says. But there's a twinkle in his eye when he recalls a journey back in 1997.

'I drove a 1934 pink Rolls Royce all 16,000 miles from Beijing to Paris including over the world's highest paved road from Qinghai to Tibet.'

What the 62-year-old car enthusiast doesn't mention is that he raised thousands of pounds for the Red Cross and the 1934 Barker saloon, named Harrison, is part of his own astonishing classic car collection. John's enthusiasm for charity work was fired by his time as a Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) teacher in Borneo and part of his Mayoral Appeal is dedicated to helping that organisation.

'I think my enthusiasm was fired by family stories of my ancestor, James Midgeley, who was a missionary in Africa at the time of Livingstone,' he says. 'Education is a strong theme in our family. My brother was a teacher, as were aunts and cousins. My time in Borneo was challenging but a great learning experience for a 21-year-old. My students came from all types of backgrounds and cultures from Malay to Chinese, Indians and local tribes. 'It was great fun, too. Once we staged a production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Lady Bracknell was played by a Malay, Canon Chausible by an Indian, Miss Prism by a Chinese person and Algernon was played by an indigenous Iban, a people once known for headhunting.' While he currently lives with his wife Lesley at the Mansion House, he still has fond memories of growing up in Briercliffe, on the outskirts of Burnley. 'I grew up surrounded by fantastic views of the Pennines and as a child enjoyed fishing in the River Don and canoeing on the Leeds-Liverpool canal.

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The cotton industry was in decline but as a young boy I remember hearing the clatter of looms and seeing Lowry-like landscapes. I loved Oddie's cakes and pies and peas from the shop on Briercliffe Road. My father, who had a wellknown accountancy practice locally, was Burnley FC's auditor and then a director at the club so we spent a lot of time at Turf Moor as well as playing golf at the Nelson Club.

'John doesn't visit Burnley as regularly since the death of his parents in 1969 but he recently returned to his home soil on an official visit. 'I'd like to help put Burnley back on the map,' says the father-of-two. 'I was very encouraged when I was back recently. It went through a rough time as the cotton industry died. Now, on each visit, it looks a little bit smarter. 'I have been keeping in touch through another Burnley boy, Sean Weir, who is a footman at the Old Bailey. He goes back regularly and goes fishing on the Roggerham near Worsthorne and keeps me in touch with all the local gossip. I love the directness of Lancashire people and the fact they have plenty of common sense.

'I also like to visit a pub or two on the moors and, of course, a pint of Thwaites.'

It is clear John loves a challenge with a third of his year taken up traveling abroad but he loves to spend time with his family when he gets a spare moment. 'Our grandchild, Cassia, doesn't seem bothered about the big shows. Last time I held her in my arms in the Mansion House she started chewing at the antique diamond badge I sometimes wear at formal events. When she grows up we'll be able to tell her she cut her teeth on the Lord Mayor's diamonds.'

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