NEWS ROUNDUP: New Lord Mayor of Leeds
21/05/21 | Leeds local news | Leeds City councillors have voted Coun Asghar Khan in as the next Lord Mayor of Leeds.
Coun Khan becomes the city’s 127th Lord Mayor at Leeds City Council’s AGM council’s annual meeting on Thursday, May 20, taking over the role from the previous incumbent Coun Eileen Taylor, who served an unprecedented two years in the role.
Coun Khan will be accompanied during his time as Mayor by his wife and Lady Mayoress, Robina Kosar.
Having spent his early years living in the Mirpur district of Kashmir, Asghar moved to Beeston in 1980 when he was 11 years old to join his father, who had found work in an Armley foundry.
He attended Cross Flats Park Primary School and Cockburn High School, before embarking on a career as a postman, which has lasted 30 years.
Since 2011, Coun Khan has represented the Burmantofts and Richmond Hill ward as a Labour councillor, serving on the city plans panel, various scrutiny and community committees, and more recently as a deputy executive member.
During his time as Lord Mayor, Coun Khan has chosen to support Leeds Hospitals Charity, with a particular focus on raising awareness and funds for renal and diabetes services.
LHC is the dedicated charity for Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust. Each year it provides an extra £5m in funding to make life easier for more than 20,000 staff working across our local NHS hospitals.
After paying tribute to NHS staff and key workers over the past year, Coun Khan said: “It is due to our efforts that we are able to see the hope we have needed for so long.
“I arrived in the UK the same day as Alton Towers opened and Liverpool won the league. My father met us at Heathrow Airport and took us up to Leeds. I was taken aback by the housing – the rows and rows of houses that looked exactly the same.
“How would I ever know which one of these houses was mine? How would I find my way home if I left the house, and what if I did get lost – I didn’t speak a word of English at the time – so how would I ask for help. I was really nervous.
“My father who worked at the foundry in Armley wanted me to achieve. I needed to catch up, so he spent part of his earnings on tuition for me. I owe my father a debt of gratitude for that.
“Living in Beeston, I was alarmed by how negatively my community was being presented and vilified because of the actions of a few – it was not something I recognised.
“The hostility was intense and awful. I even thought about leaving the area and the city. I now want to encourage others to stay, fight for their community and make a difference.
“The difference between the nervous 11-year-old immigrant boy and the proud Yorkshireman addressing you today is huge. It shows what you can achieve with the right support and help from family and friends.”
A 19-year-old lad says he has enjoyed the “best gap year ever” - after becoming one of the youngest people to row across the Atlantic.
Rupert Fenby was primed to start engineering at university last year but opted to take a year out instead when the pandemic struck and disrupted his plans.
The adventurous teen then saw an ad to be one of a group of 12 crew members on a 3,000 mile trans-atlantic rowing trip between Tenerife and Antigua.
Despite never even having sat in a rowing boat he applied “for the hell of it”, and “couldn’t believe it” when he received an email to say he had been accepted.
Rupert spent around nine months tirelessly preparing for the challenge before setting off from the Canary Islands in March.
He spent a total of 42 days at sea on a boat measuring only 38ft long with his 11 other crewmates, who all did three hour on/off rowing shifts.
Rupert, from near York, North Yorks., said: “The whole experience was just incredible. It was one of the best experiences of my life, without a doubt.
“I enjoyed it so, so much.
“If someone said to me ‘we have a spare space on another boat, do you want it?’ I would be there tomorrow.”
Rupert says he had dreamed of rowing across the Atlantic since childhood after learning about Oliver Crane, the youngest person to ever do it solo, aged only 19.
He said: “Something gripped me, it was something I had to do. It looked incredible.”
Early last summer, with the coronavirus pandemic raging, Rupert decided to defer from the University of Exeter where he was due to study engineering.
He didn’t have any set plans for what to do but within weeks he spotted an ad to be a crew member on a rowboat called Roxy.
Rupert said: “I didn’t think I stood much of a chance but I applied for the hell of it.”
An interview with the skipper, Charlie Pitcher, followed and just a fortnight after first applying Rupert had been offered a place on the boat.
He said: “I was over the moon. I flew downstairs to tell my family.”
Prior to the trip, Rupert’s only rowing experience was on a machine as part of a school team and he had never been on board a rowboat.
He spent the next nine months training fitness and strength to prepare for the upcoming voyage, which set off from Tenerife on March 28.
Rupert and his crew members, 11 men and women from various backgrounds, worked in three-hour shifts for the entire row and survived on freeze-dried food.
They didn’t have physical contact with anyone else for the entire time as there was no other boat ushering them across the sea.
The crew lived in incredibly tight quarters underneath the boat, which is only 5ft 6ins tall.
Rupert said: “It was definitely hard and took some getting used to but I found that I got used to things quite quickly.”
He added: “I can’t speak highly enough of all the people I was with, they were all incredible”
Rupert, one of four boys who lives with his parents, said that physically he fared surprisingly well, although the rowing took a huge toll on his back and hands.
At one point during the trip, he had 31 blisters on a single hand.
He said: “Quite early on I realised that a lot of the challenge was mental so I did my best to stay mentally strong.”
Rupert was met on the finish line by his dad on May 9, who travelled from the UK, and celebrated the huge success with some proper food and a beer on the shore.
Despite only just finishing, Rupert has his sights set on rowing the Pacific with one of his brothers in two years' time and is currently seeking sponsorship.
He said: “My younger brother will be on his gap year then so it will work out nicely.”
(SWNS | Barnaby Kellaway)
A three-year-old boy obsessed with bin workers has been made an honorary refuse collector and even had a truck named after him by kind-hearted crew members.
Noah Lawrence was forced to shield as he has Down Syndrome, but the highlight of his week throughout lockdown was seeing the group of bin men come on a Wednesday.
Little Noah would press his nose up against the window with excitement whenever the SUEZ recycling truck would pull up outside his house in Halifax, West Yorks.
Bin crew Kevin Lewins, Barry Taylor and Mark Wardman would wave and blow kisses back at the youngster.
In recent weeks, they dropped him off his own model garbage truck and brought him his own mini hi-vis vest and cap so he could dress up like his heroes.
And the kind-hearted workers went a step further last month when they name their truck after him and turned up with "Noah" in vinyl lettering on the wagon.
Noah’s mum Paige Hanson, 25, said: “It’s just amazing what the recycling crew have done for Noah.
"It’s such a nice thing to do and it’s great to know there’s such lovely people in the world.
“Noah has Down Syndrome and he used to be very outgoing and would be out seven days a week but because of lockdown we had to keep him in.
“Noah doesn’t communicate very well and it’s hard to make him understand, that’s why it’s amazing he’s built a relationship with the recycling crew.
“Noah just took to them and they made him smile.
"They come at 8am every Wednesday but Noah doesn’t understand they don’t come every day so he’s always watching out for them.
“Noah didn’t have a clue they were going to name the truck after him and he got really excited. He knows it’s his name.”
The bin crew said it "makes their day" to see Noah's enthusiasm when they arrive and they wanted to thank him for keeping their spirits up.
Kevin said: “Noah was there every single week throughout the lockdowns to wave and cheer us on.
“He did such a great job at keeping our spirits up that we wanted to say thank you in our own special way.”
Gareth Richardson, senior contract manager for SUEZ in Calderdale, said: “There have been so many acts of kindness shown to SUEZ crews over the last 12 months, ranging from rounds of applause to thank you posters left on bins, but Noah’s commitment was so exceptional that we just had to name our truck after him.”
(SWNS | Ashley Pemberton)
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