THE 801st Lord Mayor of York has taken office at a traditional ceremony outside the historic Guildhall, in a rare exception to the centuries-old practice.

Long-serving Liberal Democrat councillor Keith Orrell was sworn in at the Merchant Adventurers Hall, instead of the Medieval Guildhall, which is currently closed for renovations.

City council spokesmen said it was a rare example of the ceremony leaving the traditional home, with one ceremony taking place in York Minster in the 15th century.

Cllr Orrell said the unique setting added to the honour of the occasion for him.

He said: “We are all making history today. This is the first time in the hundreds of years of York’s mayoralty that the ceremony has taken place in this magnificent hall.”

Proposing Cllr Orrell as Lord Mayor, fellow Huntington and New Earswick councillor Cllr Carol Runciman spoke of his years of service on councils in South Tyneside, Ryedale and York.

Serving as Sheriff and Sheriff’s Lady in 2003 will help Cllr Orrell and his wife Judith - who is now Lady Mayoress - in their new role.

Thursday also saw a new Sheriff appointed with retired city teacher Verna Campbell taking on the role and her husband Prof Colin Campbell becoming Sheriff’s Consort.

Cllr Orrell named his Lord Mayoral charities - York Blind and Partially Sighted Society, The Island and York Music Hub - saying they wanted to small local organisations in York.

He follows Labour councillor Barbara Boyce as Lord Mayor, and Cllr Boyce used yesterday’s ceremony to thank those who had supported her during the civic year.

Cllr Boyce said: “It has been the biggest honour of my life to be elected as first citizen. Thank you for putting your trust in me to carry out this very special role.”

Cllr Boyce said there was a misconception that Lord Mayors have their own staff, when in fact the civic office relied on various different people who all have other jobs to do in the council.

She also thanked those who had help the mayoral charity work, raising £40,000 in the year for Refugee Action York, Keep Your Pet and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

Without large individual donations or help from council officers, all the money raised has come from the hard work and creativity of those who helped her fundraise, Cllr Boyce added.

The mayor making ceremony ended with a procession through city streets, led by the Superintendent of York Police Lindsey Robson and the York Guard and Waits.

It was followed by a lunch at the Assembly Rooms, where guests included the York-born Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable.