Long-serving borough councillor Stuart Hirst, 64, who represents the Wilpshire and Ramsgreave ward, was born in Darwen and grew up in East Lancashire.
He attended Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Blackburn, Hymers College in Hull and the University of Dundee, from which he graduated with a law degree in 1980.
In 1985, he was selected to represent Rotary International on a prestigious two-month work and study exchange programme in Australia.
He then worked as a commercial manager in the print and paper manufacturing industry, before starting his own print company in 1991. He sold the business in 2003, before starting another print company, Avebell, where he won the Timpson Chairman’s Supplier Award in 2008.
Stuart joined the Conservative Party aged 16 and has 27 years’ service as a councillors on two district authorities.
From 1984 to 1992, he served on Blackburn Borough Council, including a stint as deputy opposition leader, and has been a Ribble Valley borough councillor since 2003.
He was the council’s deputy leader from 2011 to 2013, leader from 2013 to 2017 and has been chairman of the health and housing, accounts and audit, economic development and policy and finance committees, as well as chairman of the Lancashire District Leaders Group.
Coun. Hirst is also a former non-executive director of Blackburn Transport Ltd and former board member of Blackburn and District Chamber of Industry and Commerce, as well as a trustee of the Salesbury Memorial Hall, governor of Salesbury Primary School and active member of St Peter’s Church, Salesbury.
He is married to Elaine, who will be his mayoress, and they have two adult children, Rob and Annie.
His chosen charities are MS Society UK, the Pink Ribbon Foundation, which provides financial support to UK charities that help people with or who have been affected by breast cancer; and Lancashire Linus, a voluntary organisation that creates patchwork quilts and blankets for children experiencing trauma.
A keen hillwalker, Stuart is currently completing the Lake District Wainwrights and is a chorister with several local choirs.