Ace of Mace: H&F’s Mayor’s mace bearer is nation’s number one

Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s mace bearer has been appointed the number one in the UK and the Commonwealth – the first black person ever to hold the position.

Keith Simpson is now Prime Warden of the Guild of Mace Bearers, and was officially recognised at a ceremony at Hammersmith Town Hall on 15 March.

The mace bearer helps the Mayor carry out their duties. The role dates back to a time when the weapon was carried for the Mayor’s protection rather than for ceremonial purposes. He may no longer need to be a bodyguard but Keith does have a busy job as driver and admin assistant and gives advice on protocol, such as what to do during a visit by the Queen (it involves the mace being turned upside down). He also gives talks at schools.

“I was overwhelmed and overjoyed when they said I would become Prime Warden. It means everything,” he said.

“I was touched by how proud the Chief Executive, councillors and colleagues were when they heard the news.

Image caption: Keith Simpson (centre) with Mayoress Rosemary Petitt (left) and H&F Chief Executive Kim Dero

“The Chief Executive Kim Dero wants me to wear my Prime Warden’s chain and have my Prime Warden’s mace carried behind me at the next council meeting.  

“It really is an honour and I will make sure I do the council proud.”

As Prime Warden, Keith will help train other mayors, advise on protocol and chair meetings of mace bearers across the UK.

After being appointed, he spent the last year in training in the role as Renter Prime Warden, the Prime Warden’s deputy.

Keith, who is 54, has been a mace bearer for H&F Council for 20 years.

The office of Prime Warden was created in 1947. Their mace is a traditional wooden war mace which was presented to the Guild of Mace Bearers by Australia’s National Association of Macebearers in 1948.

“Keith is one of the most experienced of mace bearers, “We’re very lucky to have him in Hammersmith & Fulham. I’m delighted to see him honoured in this way.” said Kim Dero, Chief Executive of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

Image caption: Keith Simpson was officially recognised at a ceremony at Hammersmith Town Hall

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