CLLR Beryl Austen is the new chairman of Teignbridge Council, having been vice-chairman for the past 12 months. She has been one of the councillors representing Kingsteignton on the district authority since 1995, and was planning committee chairman for a number of years. Cllr Austen has also served on Kingsteignton Parish Council for many years and is a former chairman. Her son, Lawrence, who was a district councillor in the South Hams between 1995-99, is to be her official escort, and the Rev Bob Banwell, of St Michael's Parish Church, Kingsteignton, her chaplain. She took over the reins at the council's annual meeting on Monday from fellow Kingsteignton councillor Mike Walters, whom she thanked for his considerable efforts during a demanding and time-consuming year. 'He has carried out his duties diligently,' she said. Cllr Walters, who was presented with his past chairman's badge by Cllr Austen, said it had been an honour and a privilege to have served as chairman for the past 12 months. He said he hoped he had left his mark in some way that would benefit the council and he had taken the post seriously in representing the council in the civic duties involving presenting the face of Teignbridge to the public and also to neighbours when visiting other districts. 'The civic events are, I consider, very important, particularly in this age of partnership and working with others to benefit our communities. 'I believe we must retain our identity with dignity and pride in what we do in representing our residents and in providing the services that are recognised as being important to our lives here in Teignbridge,' he said. Cllr Walters praised volunteers in the community and said it was a humbling experience to see so much being carried out by a few for the benefit of others in many different fields and activities. His charity in the past year was the Children's Hospice South West, and he presented a cheque for £2,600 to hospice representative Alison Burridge. The new vice-chairman of the council is Cllr Keith Smith, of Newton Abbot, who said it gave him immense pride to take on the position.