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Biography of the current Mayor of Walsall

Councillor Anthony Harris, Mayor of Walsall 2024/25

Mayor and Mayoress of Walsall, Anthony and Christina Harris, wearing mayoral chains of office
Mayor and Mayoress of Walsall, Anthony and Christina Harris

Anthony was born in 1940 at Southampton where his maternal grandfather ran a haulage business.  His father, Elias Harris, was from a long line of Cambridgeshire travelling showmen. His connection with Walsall came through his first wife, Margaret Collins, one of Pat Collins’ granddaughters. Pat Collins was the legendary travelling showman, who established his funfair in the early 1880’s. Elias and Margaret ran a “Wall of Death” on Pat Collins’ circuit of fairs. This partnership ended in 1934, when Margaret sadly died. Some years later, Elias married again, this time to Evelyn a daughter of the showman-turned-haulage contractor, Dan Baker.

In the post-war years, Anthony was educated at a boarding school, returning during the holidays to assist in his father’s business, which was by then expanding. Anthony became a member of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain, the trade association for travelling showmen and soon became involved in its administration.  This lead to his election as Chairman of the Guild’s Midland regional committee and saw him in turn playing a role in the Guild at a national level. In 1986 he was elected as one of its two vice-presidents.  One of his first responsibilities in this new post was to oversee the celebrations of the Guild’s centenary in 1989, including the staging of a fair in Hyde Park.

Prior to that he had already been instrumental in the drive to promote higher standards of fairground safety.  For over 28 years in total, he was the Guild’s main representative on the Health & Safety Executive’s joint action committee on safety in fairgrounds and amusement parks.  When the HSE published its first guidance manual on the subject Anthony was one of the key speakers at its national launch. During his three-year term as Guild president, he spoke at the inauguration of the National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield and was later invited to serve on the archive’s advisory management committee.  Although he retired from that role once his council duties grew, the University appointed him as an Advisor Emeritus. Anthony took full ownership of Pat Collins Funfair 40 years ago and continues to remain active with the running of this business alongside his wife and two sons, Anthony and Michael.

He was first elected to Walsall Council in 2004, representing the Aldridge North and Walsall Wood ward.  Anthony has served on several committees including Cabinet, Planning, Licensing and Safety and Personnel to name a few.  His proudest achievement is assisting in successfully realising the opening of leisure centres at Walsall Wood and Bloxwich.

Anthony is married to Christina, who is his Mayoress, and they have three sons. He keeps busy with his seven grandchildren, maintaining vintage vehicles and refurbishing vintage funfair equipment.

The Mayor’s charities

Anthony has chosen the following charities to benefit from the Mayor’s Appeal 2024/25:

  • Well Wishers supports the work of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust by helping to fund equipment and resources to help patients and their families.
  • Guide Dogs for the Blind Association provides guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services to people who are blind and partially sighted.
  • The Midlands Air Ambulance Charity operates and funds three air ambulance helicopters and a fleet of critical care cars serving the communities of six Midlands counties including the West Midlands.