It has been a great privilege for me to represent the residents of Cardigan Rhyd-y-Fuwch Ward as their county councillor since 2004. Over the past 13 years, I have endeavoured to be an accessible and approachable councillor with a glass half-full attitude towards everyone and everything.
It was an honour to represent Cardigan as its mayor, aged 26, in 2009-10, alongside my mother Enid, and to represent Ceredigion County Council as its chairman, aged 29, in 2012-13, alongside my wife Alyson.
But in that time, it is the approaches for support to help residents with personal issues that were impacting on their day-to-day lives that will remain in my memory. I hope that I gave them the support and guidance that they needed at a difficult time in their lives.
I may now only be 34, but having only been 21 when first elected in 2004, I have effectively spent my entire adulthood carrying that responsibility of elected office.
I have carried that responsibility with great pride but, at this point in my life, I feel that I need to take a take a step back from that and to draw breath. I have therefore not submitted my name for re-election to Ceredigion County Council and Cardigan Town Council on 4 May.
I may well stand again in the future and I will continue in the meantime to be an active face in our community, but I am now looking forward to a rest.
I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to Alan Wilson, Linda Grace, David Grace and Mair Morris for their personal support to me in those early days when this young and inexperienced 21-year-old Welsh Liberal Democrat councillor had to quickly find his feet in local government. Despite the difference in party politics, their kindness has not been forgotten.
To those who have voted for me and supported me in my efforts to support others during this time, I will be forever grateful.
I will look back on the past 13 years with great fondness, during which time this Pembrokeshire boy has made many life-long friendships and I’m now proud to call myself an ‘adopted Cardi’! I look forward to continuing with those friendships in the many years ahead.
Cllr Mark Cole, Cardigan Rhyd-y-Fuwch ward.