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Friday People: we talk to Craigavon mayor Colin McCusker

We ask personalities about the special relationships in their lives

By Kerry McKittrick

The 43-year-old lives in Levaghery, near Portadown, with his wife, Anne-Louise, and their children, Jane (8) and Sam (7). He is the outgoing and final mayor of Craigavon Borough Council, as it will be absorbed into the new Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council at the beginning of April.

My wife, Anne-Louise

Anne-Louise and I met in 2001. She works for the same pharmaceutical company as my brother. From time to time all of the employees would have gone out for a social night and I was very concious of the fact that there were many attractive ladies working there, so I went along and met Anne.

I got to a stage in my life in my late 20s that if I went out with someone and couldn't decide if I wanted to marry them within six months then I would end the relationship. With Anne, I knew within two or three months that this was the girl I wanted to marry and we got engaged a year later.

My children, Jane and Sam

Becoming a dad is the most important thing I've ever done and it's fantastic.

Having two children so close together has been a blessing as Jane and Sam are good company for each other.

They keep me sane and grounded and I love family time. In the summer, if I had mayoral events I would have brought the children and my wife along to help make them family events as well.

They have very different interests - Sam is a keen rugby fan and likes to get out and about, while Jane likes arts and crafts.

My best friends

I don't like singling out individuals but my closest friends all came from school.

They were Peter Jeffers, whose dad owned a newsagents in Portadown; Colin Weir, who lived next door to me and is now a Brigadier in the British Army; and Simon Dougan, who is now a Canon in the Church of Ireland in Bangor.

There's also more friends now that I've got older, especially Gary and Ronnie Buckley - they help me with my Lambeg drums and I socialise with them a lot.

Person I got to for advice

Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson and I are very close politically. She's been like a role model for me because she's worked extremely hard since she entered politics in 2009.

My mentor

Alderman Arnold Hatch has always encouraged and supported me. He's been an Ulster Unionist for 20 years and blames my dad for getting him into politics. He says he's getting his own back by encouraging me and pushing me on. He is someone who has always been around in my life

My parents

My dad Harold was an Ulster Unionist MP for 16 years, first for Armagh and then Upper Bann. He died from cancer when I was 18. My mum Jennifer is still alive and she ran dad's office for him out of the garage at home, which is hard to believe when you think about what MPs have for offices these days.

Mum and I still live close to each other and she does a lot of free childminding for us. She's very good at giving advice, particularly about homeopathy, because she has a real passion for it. I also have two older brothers, Moore and James. Moore lives in England but James is still close by in Portadown. We don't get to see each other as much as we would like, but if there are ever problems then we all pull together.

My secret celebrity crush, Jill Dando

There are too many to mention, but at the time I found the BBC newsreader and presenter very attractive and was very shocked when she was so brutally murdered. I especially liked her on the Holiday Programme.

Fantasy dinner party

I would like my dad to be there. He has been dead 25 years next month, so I have been without him more than I was with him.

I'd also like to talk about politics with him because I didn't get involved in it until after he'd gone. People come up to me all the time with stories about him.

Next, I'd ask Princess Diana. She seemed like a lovely lady. I would also like Gerry Anderson, particularly with his producer Sean Coyle. I used to listen to them in the car with tears of laughter running down my cheeks.

Finally, the late SDLP politician Gerry Fitt. Although they were at either end of the political spectrum, he and my dad were great pals and lived close to each other when they stayed in London.

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