The borough welcomed its new Mayor as Councillor Mohammed Zaman was sworn-in during a ceremony at Rochdale Town Hall last night.
The evening was attended by former mayors, MP Tony Lloyd, the counsel general of Pakistan, the mayor of Sahiwal - Rochdale's twin town and other distinguished guests as the departing mayor, Councillor Ian Duckworth, handed over the chain of office to Councillor Zaman.
Our leader, Allen Brett, formally welcomed the election, seconded by Councillor Ashley Dearnley, supported by Councillors Janet Emsley and Daalat Ali. After receiving the chain, the new mayor said words of thanks, before Councillors Neil Emmott and Ashley Dearnley thanked the outgoing mayor and mayoress for their services and hard work over the last year.
'I will be very proud to represent this remarkable borough'
The retiring mayoress, Mrs Christine Duckworth, assisted by the mayor's attendant, placed the mayoress' chain on Mrs Naaira Zaman.
On his arrival in Rochdale in 1975, with formal education in Chawala, Dadyal and Mirpur, Councillor Zaman worked as a labourer in Arrow Mill in Castleton. With a keen interest in technical work, teaching and management he started his first role as a trainee mechanic at Courtaulds and was later promoted to supervisor. He then served as a community languages co-ordinator for Bury Council for 18 years and over spent 25 years as a youth worker with Rochdale, working with various community organisations.
In 2006 he took a part-time teaching role at Hopwood Hall College, teaching the diploma in public service and interpreting, which helped many individuals from different nationalities gain access to training, employment and progress their careers. He became councillor for Milkstone and Deeplish in 2011 and in 2015 was re-elected with an increased majority.
The new mayor said he will work hard raising the profile of the borough, promoting community cohesion, peace, harmony and positive interaction between people of different backgrounds, faiths and cultures:
"I am really honoured to have been selected to be the mayor of Rochdale for the next 12 months and I will be very proud to represent this remarkable borough."
Mayoress will be his daughter, Naaira Zaman, commissioning officer of children's services across the city of Manchester. A former Balderstone Technology College student, she is married with 2 young children.
The mayor's consort is Mohammed Sheraz, who has worked in the community for the past 25 years and is currently a senior practitioner for Empowering Mind Consultancy.
In March 2016 he was invited to meet the then Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street to receive an award in recognition of work undertaken during the Rochdale floods.
Deputy mayor will be Councillor Billy Sheerin and the deputy mayoress his wife Lynn.
The retiring mayor, Councillor Ian Duckworth said:
"Being the mayor has been a revelation. We have discovered hundreds upon hundreds of local people working unpaid and often unrecognised in the voluntary sector. The borough and the nation would be lost without them. It has been an honour to meet with them and thank everyone on behalf of the borough. The greatest joy has been meeting the people of our borough from all walks of life and making many new friends. I also thank my charity committee for their hard work and support."
Musical entertainment during the evening was provided by Rochdale Music Service, Rossendale Theatre, Lia Fisher, The Multicultural Arts Centre and the Centre of Wellbeing, Training and Culture.
The Mayor's Charity Appeal for 2018-19 will be raising funds for Springhill Hospice, Petrus, Parkinson's UK, Rochdale Community Partnership, MoorEnd Trust and British Heart Foundation, plus other local charities and groups.