About the Mayor

Councillor Richard Williams, Mayor of Elmbridge, is an Esher Residents Association Member and Esher Councillor.

Mayor of Elmbridge, Councillor Richard Williams

Richard was born in St. Osyth, on the Essex coast, where his parents were restoring an Elizabethan house, only for his father to die very young and the family to be uprooted to a dull rented house in an anonymous village in the middle of nowhere.

He was packed off to boarding school in London, aged 11 and never really returned to Essex. Being at school in Highgate in the 1960s was infinitely preferable to grey, old Essex and to his good fortune, having always been keen with a pencil, his art masters were the renowned Welsh painter Sir Kyffin Williams OBE RA and Anthony Green RA. There could be no better teachers for a boy whose favourite place was the art room rather than the classroom.

In London Richard found his feet and Hampstead soon became his favourite stamping ground. He developed an enduring love of pop culture and his devotion to rock and blues music means he’s a regular at the Ealing Blues Festival and any other gig where the likes of Georgie Fame and Zoot Money can still be found thrilling audiences of a certain age.

A life changing year’s stint working in a Rudolph Steiner home for disabled children in Switzerland followed school and then he won a place on the prestigious London College of Printing’s Graphic Design course, where he met his future wife Agnieszka.

His design career covered a spell working at Sainsbury’s highly creative in-house studio (prints of his 1970s designs have recently adorned their shopping bags) and then the creation of two of Britain’s best known, award winning, design agencies, one of which has become a global behemoth. He sat on the board of the Design Business Association and on the executive team of the Design Council – leading to his being a judge, alongside Prince Philip and others, of the Prince Philip Designers Prize.

Richard retired just at the onset of the pandemic and he has filled his time with being a Samaritans listening volunteer and an Esher Residents Association Councillor, elected in 2019. He found becoming a Councillor “The most daunting job I’ve ever undertaken. My family would describe my impatience as being at the very extreme end of the scale and I sensed that being a Councillor might test that - and it has. However, I have learned a new skill in these twilight years, thoroughness. You can’t be a decent Councillor if you don’t read the documentation properly and there is a lot of it!” 

His missionary zeal for great design and interest in the built environment is often brought to bear in Council planning meetings. “I just want people to build places where people from all walks of life are proud to live, no matter what their circumstances. This is perfectly possible, but it takes excellent architects and developers to grasp the needs of the community. It can’t all be about profit.'

Early on in his Councillor career, Richard found himself chairing the Countryside Consultative Group. “As a resident I tended to walk Esher Commons without much of a thought as to who maintained them and how, but now I know what goes on, I’m so impressed. Elmbridge’s Countryside team and its numerous volunteers do an amazing job. Similarly, the people who run our Community Care services and their volunteers are extraordinarily dedicated and do such important work. It’s far too easy to overlook officers and volunteers.”

He has lived in Esher for fourteen years, having been lured by the modernist estate in which he lives and by the open spaces that he feels we are so lucky to have.

Beyond the Council, which consumes most of his days, his interests are in old cars (he has a couple of tatty 1970s Citroens that occasionally work) motor sport of which he’s been an avid fan since the early 1970s and sailing (very badly). His growing brood of grandchildren manage to occupy what spare moments he has.

Mayor’s charity

Richard has chosen the charity Oasis Childcare to support during his Mayoral Year. Oasis aims to fully understand all the issues impacting the families who go to them and support them for as long as they need help, rather than offering assistance for a finite period of time which often yields little if no improvement at all.

The needs of families who go to Oasis have changed over the years which led them to adapt the nature of their support and the services they offer.  Oasis may further evolve as societal and economic pressures change over time.  Currently the services provided include outreach, signposting, advocacy, crisis support, emotional wellbeing, legal surgery, emergency help and children’s services.

Richard and Agnieszka are looking forward to the forthcoming mayoral year and to meeting the many volunteers and organisations and their supporters that make Elmbridge such a great place to live and work.

If you would like further details about the Mayor or his charity please email the Mayor’s secretary: themayor@elmbridge.gov.uk or view:

Further information

For further information about the Mayor, please see Councillor Richard Williams or for information about the Deputy Mayor, please see, Councillor Charu Sood (Deputy Mayor).