“Latter-day Saint Is First Woman to Chair Council,” Ensign, Mar. 1990, 80
Mary Armstrong, of the Consett Branch, Sunderland England Stake, has become the first woman to chair the Derwentside Council. The council covers an area with a population of more than eighty thousand. As chair, Mary’s functions include leading the full council meetings, signing official documents, hosting visitors and dignitaries, and meeting with other local authorities in County Durham.
Among the duties Mary most enjoys is visiting the elderly on such occasions as Diamond Wedding anniversaries and birthdays. “People are so grateful and loving,” she says, adding that the privilege of being in their lives makes her feel humble.
Mary was born in No Place, England, and gained her initial interest in politics through her trade union, the Union of Shop Distributors and Allied Workers. She founded the West Stanley Branch of the USDAW and later joined the Labour Party. After serving in various ways, she was elected to the council in 1983. Then, in May 1989, after serving as vice-chairman for a year, she became the first woman chairman.
Eleven years ago, Mary sought out the missionaries after seeing the difference the Church made in the life of her son Thomas—one of her four children. Since Mary’s baptism, her husband, Chris, has also joined the Church. “As much as my civic involvement means to me, my family and the Church are the most important things in my life,” she says.—Janet Hughes, Lanchester, England