THE new Lord Mayor of York described today's swearing-in ceremony as like "attending your own funeral - but in the best possible way".

Coun Janet Looker today succeeded Coun Charles Hall in the prestigious role. She said that celebrating York's cultural opportunities and promoting the work of the voluntary sector will be key objectives for herself and the new Sheriff, former York councillor Bob Scrase. "It's extremely nice to be alive to listen to people say nice things about you," Coun Looker told guests at the Guildhall during her acceptance speech.

"I'm feeling extremely anxious and nervous today, but I'm sure it will all be wonderful."

Coun Looker, a former solicitor, is a member of the council's Labour Group and has served as a councillor for the Guildhall ward since 1985, on the former York City Council, North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council.

Mr Scrase, who succeeds Coun Keith Orrell, served as a councillor for Holgate ward for 11 years before standing down last year.

The new civic party led a procession from the Guildhall, to the Merchant Adventurers' Hall for the Lord Mayor's luncheon.

Updated: 14:44 Thursday, May 20, 2004