President-elect Marie is thrown in at the deep end

IT TOOK a long time to pin down Board of Deputies president-elect Marie van der Zyl for an interview.

But speaking to her yesterday, it turns out that she was thrown straight in at the deep end.

The 52-year-old mother-of-two said: “At 5am, the morning after the election, I was on my way to the BBC to be interviewed.

“I haven’t had time to think about winning the election yet. It’s been very busy!”

Mrs Van der Zyl, who is married to Darrell, became only the second woman in the Board’s 258-year history to become president — succeeding Jonathan Arkush, who will step down at the beginning of June.

She defeated Dr Sheila Gewolb, Simon Hochauser and Edwin Shuker to the position.

But, she said, the four of them all “came together” to support each other.

The employment lawyer said: “So much good has come out of this election. One of my priorities will be to provide more support to the regions.

“In my manifesto, I proposed regional advocacy, quarterly away days and supporting them as a key part of it.”

And Mrs van der Zyl (nee Kaye), has a big northern connection, which not many people know about — she is a Liverpool FC supporter. And she read law at Liverpool John Moores University.

She said: “I am very close to that community, and I visit regularly. The north-west is really close to my heart.”

The Board has often been criticised for being a “talking shop for old men” — to steal a phrase used by candidate Dr Gewolb during the Manchester hustings earlier this month. And that is something Mrs van der Zyl is looking to change.

“I want to bring the youth with us and engage young people, not just as tokens, but to bring them into the heart of the Board. I want to make it a relevant place.”

And she has already started doing so, thanks to her two daughters.

The former JLGB members said: “My girls are amazingly proud. This election victory, and the fact that there are more female deputies than ever before, makes us tremendous role models for women.

“But I didn’t win because I was a woman I won because I was the right candidate. It is wonderful for my children to see that, though.”

Mrs van der Zyl defeated Mr Shuker by 132 votes to 94 under the single transferable vote system, after Dr Gewolb and Dr Hochhauser had been eliminated.

She gained 96 first-preference votes, Dr Hochhauser 59, Mr Shuker 51 and Dr Gewolb 31.

Dr Gewolb will serve as senior vice-president after winning the election, which was contested by nine candidates, including two other women.

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