KEWAL Singh Athwal, who was formally elected as the Mayor of Erewash during Erewash Borough Council’s annual meeting on May 8.
He is the first ethnic mayor since 1887. Erewash is a local government district and borough in eastern Derbyshire in the East Midlands of England.
Councillor Athwal, who has represented the Wilsthorpe Ward on the Borough Council since May 2007, will serve residents as the First Citizen of the Borough for the civic year 2014/15.
During his mayoral year, Councillor Athwal will be supported by his wife, Lakhbir, and other family members – while he will also be accompanied at many events by Mayor’s Cadets from the Derbyshire Air Cadet Force, the Air Training Squadron and the Long Eaton Sea Cadets.
Throughout the year, several fundraising events will be held to raise funds for Councillor Athwal’s ‘charity pot’ which will be distributed to charitable groups and organisations across Erewash at the end of his term.
Councillor Athwal says he is looking forward to his year in office: “I am honoured to have been elected to serve as the Mayor of Erewash and will do my utmost to represent the council and serve the people of this wonderful borough with great pride over the coming year.
“I feel very privileged to become Erewash’s first elected mayor from an ethnic group and sincerely hope that I will be able to promote harmony and understanding between all cultures within our borough during my term of office.
“Whilst carrying out my duties as Deputy Mayor over the past year, I have met many people who volunteer and work so selflessly to help others. I am well aware of the inspiring and valuable work that goes on daily in all corners of Erewash and I look forward to attending further events during this year and to meeting residents of all ages, hearing their stories and applauding their support of the borough. There is much of which we can be proud in Erewash and I am truly excited to be in a position to promote this during the coming year.”
Born into a Sikh family in the Punjab area near the city of Jalandhar in India, Councillor Athwal moved to the United Kingdom in 1961. His career has been mainly in two industries, the motor trade and textiles, starting on the shop floor of both industries and progressing to senior managerial roles. He now owns his own business based in Long Eaton importing, wholesaling and exporting ladies fashion accessories to independent retailers and wholesalers.
Over the years, Councillor Athwal has carried out charity work both here in the UK and in India, having instigated and raised funding to organise medical clinics in India for the poor to get treatment for various ailments – including funding around 500 cataract operations. He is a former chairman of the Indian Community Association (Erewash) and has been a non executive director and business advisor to a number of trade associations.
Councillor Athwal and his wife Lakhbir have been married for over 40 years and have two children who are both married – daughter Navjit and son Sukhraj – and three grand-daughters. As well as spending time with members of his family, Councillor Athwal lists his hobbies as football, cricket, socialising and being involved in a variety of charity work.
The Mayor’s Chaplain for 2014/15 will be the Reverend Gary Dundas of Draycott and Councillor Athwal will also be supported by Karamvir Athwal from the Sikh faith.