Burnley's youngest ever Mayor takes office
Burnley's youngest ever Mayor said it was the "greatest honour of his life" to take the town's chain of office.
Coun. Wajid Khan (40) was installed as the town's new Mayor during a virtual online ceremony last night at Burnley Town Hall.
He said he was truly humbled to be serving the people of Burnley and Padiham and immediately announced a weekly awards scheme to recognise individuals and organisations who have gone above and beyond during the current crisis.
Speaking about his 'Mayor's Medal' initiative, Coun. Khan said: "Award winners will be announced on a weekly basis and we aim to have a presentation ceremony for 50 award winners towards the end of my tenure. Please send your nominations to [email protected]
"This year, we will raise money for community and voluntary groups across the borough in addition to supporting the homeless Shelter Project. Online fundraising will be launched for our charitable work and I will detail some personal initiatives to help fundraise in the near future."
Coun. Khan, who went to Heasandford Primary School and Habergham High School, said it saddened him that his parents could not be with him in the chamber for the mayor-making ceremony.
"Due to Government guidelines, it saddens me to say that my mother and father could not be here with me in person," he said. "I wanted to introduce to the chamber the two people who made me the person I am today.
"My father come to this country and made Burnley his home at the age of 15. My mother came years later. They instilled public service and helping others as strong family values. They inspired me to use what skills and experience I have in the service of the community."
The dad-of-two called his wife Anam a "continuous rock of solid support" as he congratulated her on taking up the position of mayoress. He also said he was delighted to announce that his brother, Zahid, would be his consort.
Coun. Zhan has won four consecutive elections in the Daneshouse and Stoneyholme ward and extended his deep gratitude to the people there for putting their "trust and confidence" in him.
He also paid tribute to outgoing Mayor, Coun. Anne Kelly.
"She’s had months of disruption and many cancellations. It’s been hard on her and I’m sure I speak for everyone in saying thank you for all your work in your mayoral year."
Coun. Khan has been bestowed numerous prestigious accolades during a prominent and lauded career, so to call this appointment the "greatest honour of his life" shows just how highly he regards his new role.
In 2002, he graduated in law from UCLan before working in the voluntary sector with young offenders, gaining qualifications in advice and guidance as well as mentoring, and teaching homeless young people numeracy and literacy
He completed a Masters in European Law in 2004, during which time, inspired by the disturbances in Burnley in 2001, he initiated several projects involving community cohesion. This included the Corrymeela project in Northern Ireland, his role gaining him a National Cohesion Award.
He worked as a taxi driver to fund his postgraduate studies and has been a strong advocate for community leadership.
After winning a landslide election in Daneshouse and Stoneyholme in 2007, he went on to serve as the MEP for the North West of England from 2017 to 2019.
Last year, he was awarded the highest civilian award by the President of Pakistan, Sitara-i-Qaide Azam, for his work on International human rights.
Coun. Khan currently works as a senior lecturer in community leadership and course leads the Masters in community leadership degree programme, which he was a key architect in developing.
He had this message for the people of the borough: "At this time of terrible sadness and mourning, I assure you that I will do everything in my power to support you. Your compassion and community spirit is the backbone of Burnley and Padiham and I intend to play the greatest role I can.
"We must continue to support men and women on the frontline – NHS workers, care workers and everybody putting themselves at risk for the common good – we must support them by all of us following the Government guidelines."
He added: "During this time of rainbows on our windows and uncertainty in our lives, let’s think outside the box this year and lift the spirits of the people.
"In Burnley, we have seen difficult times previously. We came together as a town after the 2001 disturbances and it’s our togetherness, kindness and compassion that is helping us in these strange times. We must never lose hope."