The Mayor of Rotherham

Councillor Sheila Cowen

The Mayor of Rotherham for 2024-25 is Councillor Sheila Anne Cowen.

The Mayor is “bursting with pride” to serve the people of Rotherham as Mayor, adding “my most important function is to honour the role of First Citizen”.

The Mayor has lived in Wath for the last twenty-two years, having been born in nearby Mexborough. A proud daughter of a miner, her parents encouraged education and learning which continues with the Mayor herself.

In the first part of the Mayor’s teenage years, she served in the Royal Air Force and was based at the central air traffic control school at Shawbury. The Mayor said:

I am so proud of the military service because there is one thing that it gives you and that is discipline, and this has given me the discipline to approach this role with confidence.

Whilst in the Royal Air Force, the Mayor was chosen to serve tea to Princess Margaret. However, this was not without incident as her hat blew away when her plane was landing.

In later life, the Mayor went to university and studied to become a teacher, pursuing her passion for education. The Mayor specialised in Special Educational Needs and in the latter part of her 27-year teaching career was a specialist teacher who supported children who had autism. On her experience as a teacher, the Mayor shared that “this has given me the understanding, patience and knowledge to help in any situation”.

The Mayor is a mother to three children and described her children as her “pride and joy”. When the Mayor was widowed at a young age her children were of great support and guidance. All of her children are graduates and the Mayor is incredibly proud of their achievements.

Elected as a Borough Councillor for Wath in 2021, the Mayor enjoys being able to help local residents, sharing:

Nothing brings me more joy than for someone to bring a problem to me. I enjoy every minute of solving it, and hopefully changing someone’s life in the process.

Over the coming year, the Mayor is looking forward to representing the Borough at events and speaking with local residents. The Mayor said:

Next year Rotherham will become the first Children’s Capital of Culture and I look forward to supporting these events in my role as Mayor. This underpins my fundamental belief that children really are our future.

"Rotherham has a spectacular timetable of events with something for everyone. A favourite of mine is Armed Forces Day. Watching the marching and listening to the bands is reminiscent of my formative years. 

“Over the coming year, I am looking forward to representing the Borough at events. I want to be out there speaking with local residents and supporting communities.”

On selecting her charities, the Mayor shared: “On selecting my charities, I  have considered the whole of life including illness and misfortune.”

The Mayor has chosen the following charities to support in 2024/25:

  • Help 4 Homeless Veterans (Charity No 1148155) provides support for veterans facing homelessness, by working with private landlords and housing associations to provide help and support to members of the Armed Forces community and assist to improve the lives of veterans in need.
  • The Rotherham Hospice Trust (Charity No 700356) provides excellence in care for adults throughout Rotherham affected by a terminal illness. Dedicated staff and volunteers provide palliative care to help patients and their families achieve the very best quality of life, both at home and in the Hospice.
  • The Common Lands of Rotherham Charity (Charity No 223050) is Rotherham’s oldest charity, established in the early part of the 14th century. Present charitable work consists of two main areas: support for the disadvantaged throughout Rotherham and provision of educational scholarships and bursaries.
  • Roundabout Ltd (Charity No 1061313) is a local youth housing charity providing shelter, support and life skills to young people aged 16 to 25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The service offers a pathway to young people to gain independent living skills and to be supported to achieve their goals and aspirations.

Councillor Sheila Cowen served as the Deputy Mayor for the last 12 months, a role which has now been taken by Councillor Rukhsana Haleem.