BRADFORD'S outgoing Lord Mayor has spoken of her unprecedented term in office - a period that has seen her welcome royalty and act as the first citizen of the District during a deadly pandemic.

Councillor Doreen Lee (Lab, Keighley East) took on the role of Lord Mayor in May 2019, a role that was due to last until May 2020.

However, when the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in the UK it was decided that the annual Mayor Making ceremony, usually attended by well over 100 people, could not take place, and Cllr Lee would remain in office until May 2021.

On Tuesday at the last full Council meeting before May's local elections, Cllr Lee said being Mayor of Bradford was the best experience of her life.

But she said it was also a time filled with tragedy, as she often found herself paying tribute to friends and colleagues who had died from the virus.

During the meeting Councillors from all parties praised Cllr Lee, and Chief Executive Kersten England referred to her as "Mrs Keighley."

Cllr Lee said at the start of the meeting: "It has probably been the best thing to ever happen to me.

"Being the first citizen, representing everyone in the District is hard work but is really, really rewarding.

New Lord Mayor of Bradford Councillor Doreen Lee speaks of excitement over coming year in office

"I've done my best and I hope I've made you proud. In this City and District there are people who are worth their weight in gold. A lot of happy things happened along the way, but there were also lots of sad things."

In her time as Mayor Cllr Lee welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Bradford, paid tribute to Keighley born Captain Tom and sent out recorded messages to residents during lockdown.

She also raised money for her Lord Mayors Appeal - which will benefit groups including Child Bereavement UK

Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe described it as "an unprecedented term of office,"

Mrs England said: "Sadly she has also had to announce the deaths of former Lord Mayors and friends. I know how much she's grieved for them.

"You were the perfect Lord Mayor to have during a time of crisis."

Councillor Vanda Greenwood (Lab, Windhill and Wrose) had accompanied Cllr Lee on many mayoral visits. She said the highlight of their time was attending the Mr and Mrs Universe event held in St George's Hall.

Cllr Lee said: "I knew Cllr Greenwood would not be able to resist talking about that.

"It was a world wide contest being held in St George's Hall. I've never seen as much baby oil in my life. When we left we were experts on pecs, lumps bumps, fat - we knew everything about every muscle.

"People came from Australia and every country in the world to St George's Hall. They all said what a wonderful place Bradford was and that they couldn't wait to come back."

In her role of presiding over full Council meetings Cllr Lee had developed a no nonsense reputation, often admonishing even senior Councillors for speaking over their allotted time.

And Tuesday's online meeting Cllr Lee put her foot down one last time. During a speech on the Council's Local Plan Consultation, Councillor Geoff Winnard (Cons, Bingley) was interrupted four times by his mobile phone ringing. At one point he went to answer the phone.

After he finished Cllr Lee said: "Can I say to everyone, if you are in a room with your phone either throw it out a window or turn it off."

After the local elections Councillor Shabir Hussain (Lab, Heaton) the current Deputy Lord Mayor, will take on the Lord Mayor role.