New mayor for Rochdale borough

The appointment was made following the first full meeting of the council since the local elections earlier in May 2024.

The evening was attended by former mayors, deputy lieutenants as well as other distinguished guests and community leaders as the departing mayor Councillor Mike Holly, and mayoress Margaret Holly handed over their chains of office.

The event was held at Rochdale Town Hall for the first time since 2019 and began with a fanfare played by Rochdale Music Service.

Council leader Neil Emmott spoke fondly about the new mayor.

Council leader Neil Emmott spoke to support the appointment of Shakil, who he said has served the council well for many years:

“I congratulate Shakil and I am certain he will be an excellent mayor with the support of his wife Robina and Councillor Rachel Massey as consort.”

After receiving his chain, the new mayor, said words of thanks to a packed audience of over 300:

“I love this borough and I am very proud to call myself a Rochdalian. It has been quite a journey to get where I am today and a great honour for myself and my family. If my mother and father had still been with us I think they would have been very proud and I am looking forward to getting started and making a positive difference to our borough. Together with my mayoress and consort we are looking forward to supporting all our charities and working hard to raise a significant amount of money.”

The Mayor’s Charity Appeal for 2024/25 will be raising funds for Springhill Hospice, the Team Thompson Against Cancer Appeal in conjunction with Rochdale AFC Community Trust, Aspire 2 Inspire Communities, Rochdale Heartbeat and Get Together After Serving.

Shakil, originally from Coventry, moved to Rochdale in 1984, attending Broadfield High School. Working as a heavy goods vehicle delivery driver, he has represented the Kingsway ward since 2012.

Mayoress Robina Bi with former mayoress Margaret Holly.

Outgoing mayoress Margaret Holly on stage with new mayoress Robina Bi.

Mayoress Robina Bi was born in Kashmir, moving to Rochdale in 1992. She has 2 sons and 3 grandchildren.

Consort Rachel Massey has been a councillor for the last 6 years.

Mayor Shakil Ahmed with Councillor Mike Holly.

Former mayor councillor Mike Holly with new mayor Ali Ahmed.

During the event a past mayors medallion was presented to Councillor Mike Holly. Councillor James Gartside thanked councillor Holly for his fundraising and energy over the past year as mayor:

“Mike has cheered up everyone during his wonderful mayoral year.  He’s probably made more speeches, met more people and visited more places in the last 12 months than many will do in a lifetime.”

Retiring mayor, Councillor Mike Holly said it had been a privilege:

“What a year it has been, providing us with the opportunity to meet so many wonderful residents, charities, community groups, volunteers, businesses and seeing so much of what we have to celebrate in our borough. So many precious moments, but being able to cut the ribbon to re-open our wonderfully restored town hall will live with me forever.”

Councillor Rachel Massey, mayor Shakil Ahmed, mayoress Robina Bi, deputy mayor Janet Emsley and deputy consort Ken Emsley.

Consort Councillor Rachel Massey, mayor councillor Shakil Ahmed, mayoress Robina Bi, deputy mayor Janet Emsley and deputy consort Ken Emsley after the ceremony at Rochdale Town Hall.

Deputy mayor for the new year will be councillor Janet Emsley, with consort Ken Emsley. They were presented with their chains during the ceremony.

Bhangracise drummers performing.

Bhangracise performed to close the evening.

Musical entertainment was produced by Rochdale Music Service and included solo performances by Rochdale Sixth Form College student Madeleine Lions. The evening was closed by a rousing and colourful set featuring Dhol drummers from Bhangracise.

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