Councillor Yakub Patel, an active local politician within the British Indian community, recently took charge as the 695th Mayor of Preston and the first of Indian heritage to occupy this historic ceremonial post that dates back to the 14th century.
Born in Gujarat, Patel has been active within his community since he was first elected to the local council for the Labour Party in the 1990s.
The new Mayor said in a statement: "I am honoured and delighted to become the Mayor of Preston, a city I am proud to call my home. I hope to make positive differences to the communities that I serve and also provide additional support through my mayoral charities for the coming year."
His appointment demonstrates Preston's growing diversity in leadership roles. Cllr Patel served as Deputy Mayor for 2022-2023 and, as is customary, has been elevated to the post of Mayor for the 2023-24 term.
According to the Preston City Council, the tradition of having a Mayor of Preston dates back to the Middle Ages when the City's first Charter – a document bestowing certain rights on the town) was granted by Henry II in 1179. The Mayor of Preston acts as the City's first citizen, meaning they speak on the City's behalf and are an important part of its identity. They also represent local people at civic and ceremonial events.
Nowadays, the Mayor must be a Preston City Councillor, meaning local people have voted for them to represent their communities. Once chosen, they become Deputy Mayor for a year, before stepping up at the following Annual Council and serve as the Mayor for a year.
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In Cllr Patel, Preston also gets its first British Muslim Mayor of the City of Preston. He was born in Bharuch district of the Gujarat peninsula located on the banks of the river Narmada. He graduated from Baroda in the western Indian state before moving to the UK in June 1976, where he married and has lived in the Frenchwood area ever since with his wife, children and grandchildren.
He has been involved in politics since the age of 10 when he started canvassing and delivering election leaflets for his late father, a strong supporter and a member of former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi led Congress Party. He was first elected as a Labour councillor for Avenham Ward in 1995.
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Patel's chosen charities for support during his mayoral tenure include Rosemere Cancer, Preston Domestic Violence Services and homelessness support charity Emmaus in tribute to the work done by these organisations for the people of Preston.