IF YOUNG people going off the rails need an inspirational story to help them back on the straight and narrow then they should look no further than the new mayor of Torfaen.

Neil Mason has served a prison sentence for robbery, and was unable to read and write until ten years ago.

Now he is Torfaen’s first citizen after turning his life around.

Cllr Mason says he is living proof that “you can go from the bottom to the top” and he wants his story to be an example to others.

Born and bred in Pontypool, Cllr Mason ended up in prison in his early twenties as frustration at his own illiteracy and a temper that he struggled to control led him into problems with drink and the law.

But he avoided trouble after leaving prison, had huge support from his wife, and from a local councillor who encouraged him to take adult learner courses and eventually to stand for election himself.

Now aged 52, he will be wearing chains of office for the next year.

It’s a great story and we hope Cllr Mason can be a true inspiration for young people who, like him, find themselves being tempted down the wrong path.

Anyone can turn their lives around. They need the help and support of others, but anyone can do it.

We wish Cllr Mason well for his term of office.