The Lord Mayor of Southampton has spoken about the importance of using her role to promote charitable organisations in the city.

Since becoming the city’s second Lord Mayor in May 2023, Cllr Valerie Laurent – who had previously been instated in the role of Sheriff – has championed three selected charities, the Saints Foundation, Southampton City Farm, and Sea Cadets Southampton.

Speaking to the Echo, the Lord Mayor stated that she wanted to use her role for good and promote the charities close to her heart.

She said: “In this city we need to promote businesses and charitable organisations, it’s very important.

“As Lord Mayor you’re allowed to choose some charities that you’d like to promote over the year and I’ve been very happy to do that, in the hope we can raise as much money as possible – whether it’s through functions or special events.

“The Saints Foundation has always done amazing work within the city and the Southampton Sea Cadets are a brilliant organisation that provide young people up to the age of 18 with some great life experiences and qualifications.”

Daily Echo: Lord Mayor, Cllr Valerie LaurentLord Mayor, Cllr Valerie Laurent (Image: Matt Davey)

As Lord Mayor of Southampton, Cllr Laurent also holds the title of Honorary Admiral of the Port, insisting she is ‘very proud to be associated with the sea cadets.’

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Southampton City Farm is another charity particularly special for the Lord Mayor as she grew up on a farm in North Devon where her family would farm beef, dairy and sheep.

“City farm is a brilliant organisation in Lordshill,’ she said.

“Although it’s surrounded by housing, there’s greenery that’s in a completely different world.

“You look up and there are children living in high-rise flats in Millbrook, literally living in the sky, and haven’t got a garden to run out in.

“So, they can go to city farm and get their hands dirty and be involved in animal care, experiencing something they might not otherwise have, it’s quite inspiring.”

The Lord Mayor has several events – before her successor is elected in May – raising money for her chosen charities, including a Nepalese curry evening, masked ball, and classic car display.

The role of Lord Mayor is ceremonial; it’s a non-political and voluntary role that makes no decisions on council matters.

However, Cllr Laurent hopes her role will continue to showcase her selected charities and have a positive impact on the city.

She said: “It’s my job to be there for everybody and help where I can.

“I do think the role – whoever is in it – brings prestige to the city and it was an honour to be awarded Lord Mayor status before the late Queen passed away, as she only awarded four cities with that accolade in her lifetime.”