New mayor of Berkhamsted was inspired to get into politics during a pub quiz

New mayor of Berkhamsted Peter Matthews
New mayor of Berkhamsted Peter Matthews

The man who has just been elected mayor of Berkhamsted was first inspired to get into politics during a pub quiz.

It will be Peter Matthews’ first time in the role after accepting the mayoral chain on Monday night.

He became Berkhamsted Town Councillor about seven years ago after being persuaded to join the body by Ron Cowie during a quiz he was hosting at The George. Mr Matthews, 62, had no previous experience in politics.

But he said: “Without volunteers, things do not run and I was at the stage in my working and family life that I could spend a bit more time volunteering.

“I am very much of the belief that if you have still got the energy and ability, you have got to give something back to the community and support it.

“It was a growing feeling, like most people experience who put a lot of effort into building a home, having children, concentrating on work and those sorts of things.

“It is all very personal and family-centric. Then I began talking to Ron.”

Mr Cowie, who died on New Year’s Day, was chairman of the Berkhamsted & District Chamber of Commerce for 20 years and once served as mayor of the town himself.

Mr Matthews hopes as mayor he can keep traffic in Berkhamsted running as smoothly as possible in anticipation of the opening of two new food stores in the town.

He said the opening of the Marks & Spencer Simply Food store next Wednesday, and plans for a new Lidl nearby, would double the number of supermarkets in the area.

This could mean a lot more delivery vehicles on the town’s streets, he added.

He also hopes to encourage more people to use Berkhamsted Castle for public events, like open air theatre shows.

Mr Matthews said: “I am one of only a small number of councillors who is still working full-time.”

He is looking forward to getting invited to many more events than he ever would have been called out to as an ordinary councillor.

His employers are allowing him time off to perform such duties, he added – though evening work could end up cancelling out the time away from his desk. He said: “It is going to be great to get out and meet people.”