A KEIGHLEY councillor and community stalwart has spoken with pride about his year as the district’s civic head.

Zafar Ali said it had been a “huge honour and privilege” to serve as the Lord Mayor of Bradford.

He attended around 1,200 engagements in every part of the district and beyond.

And he visited places he’d never been to before – including, he admits, some right on the doorstep!

“I’d never had the chance previously to visit the Bronte Parsonage Museum at Haworth – although it’s just up the road!” said Cllr Ali. “I was invited there twice.

“And I travelled on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, which I hadn’t done before.

“We’re so fortunate to have these wonderful places on our doorstep.”

Reflecting publicly on his term in office for the first time in an interview since relinquishing the role, he said the mayorship had confirmed to him the great strengths and attributes of the district and its people.

“I’ve been involved in every aspect of public life since the early 1970s so over the years have come across many different people and organisations – but not on the level of intensity of the past year,” said the 71-year-old, who lives at Cark Road in Keighley.

“Sometimes I was attending five or six engagements a day, dashing from one to the next, so the demands could be quite heavy.

“But I met so many wonderful people, of all ages and from every walk of life, and saw the fantastic work that is going on right across the district.

“There are large numbers of people giving their own time for the benefit of their communities and to improve others’ lives and that was a great honour for me to see.”

Cllr Ali attended countless events and visited many places, from factories and shops to schools and nursing homes.The 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War fell during his time as Lord Mayor, and he went to a number of functions related to the commemorations.

“The district is a real hub of multi-culturalism and one of my aims as Lord Mayor was to help build links between our communities,” he added. “Whilst our population is made-up of people from many different backgrounds and religions, we are all part of one community – that’s a theme I tried to promote and it was well received.

“The love and support shown to me was immense and I’m hugely appreciative of that.”

Cllr Ali’s chosen beneficiaries from the Lord Mayor’s Appeal were Oxenhope Sue Ryder hospice Manorlands and Bradford Nightstop, which provides homeless 16-to-25-year-olds with safe accommodation in the homes of volunteers. The final total is still to be confirmed, but Cllr Ali said the public had rallied round and he was delighted with the response.

“People have been extremely generous to support two charities which do such fantastic work – and my thanks go to everyone,” he added. “And I would also like to say a big thank-you to Mike Gibbons, who chaired the appeal committee, and his team for all their great work.”