Outgoing Lord Mayor reflects on his time in office

When the Lord Mayor of Cardiff welcomed Princess Anne to the Principality Stadium on the occasion of the Wales-Scotland rugby match in February the tartan trews he sported might have raised a royal eyebrow.

But for Cllr Rod McKerlich, the game gave him a chance to demonstrate his two allegiances. A proud Scotsman and a proud Cardiffian, he was in his element on that day, one of many he has enjoyed during his spell in the mayoral robes.

“It was a wonderful time at the rugby,” said Rod, “and it gave me a chance to reflect on the strong ties that Cardiff has with Scotland, through the Bute family who created so much of what we now know as Cardiff.”

Rod was originally elected to the council in 2008 after a successful career in business. Having lived in Radyr since 1974, and having served as a school governor, captain of the local golf club, chair of the tennis club and vice-chair of the cricket club, it was an easy decision to stand in the Radyr and Morganstown ward.

He has held the seat for the Conservatives continuously since then but stood down at this year’s election and when he hands over the Lord Mayor’s duties tonight (May 26) it will bring an end to his civic duties.

“I’m 77 now and if I’d been elected this time I would have been 82 at the next election,” he said. “I think that would be too old for me, although I’m in good health now.

“I’ve had 18 months as mayor due to the pandemic,” he said, “and it was extremely enjoyable and a great honour. We’ve raised a reasonable amount of money for Alzheimer’s Society Cymru but, of course, a lot of fund-raising events didn’t take place, along with the chance to meet with donors.

“Nevertheless, I had the great privilege of seeing the work done on Alzheimer’s at Cardiff University, one of seven major centres of research in the UK.

“And we have had a lot of support from all the communities in Cardiff. On one day in November I attended a remembrance service, then went to a mosque and finally to celebrate Diwali with members of the city’s Hindu community.

“This, for me, typified what is so wonderful about Cardiff – its diversity. Meeting so many people from all parts of Cardiff has been a real highlight for me during my time as mayor – along with meeting the Queen at the opening of the Senedd – and it has been lovely that they have all been pleased to see a member of the council.”

One aspect of his work he won’t miss is officiating at votes during council meetings. “Because of the pandemic they were held remotely,” he said, “and the votes were counted by a roll-call. That took 10 minutes every time.”

For now, though, his first priority is a break in his native Scotland with his wife Sue. “We will be going to the Isle of Bute for a look at Mount Stuart House, the home of the Marquess of Bute.”