By Shuiab Khan Reporter and columnist
United Kingdom, A CHARITY worker and volunteer has said he is “humbled” to take on the role as Blackburn with Darwen’s new Mayor.
The annual Mayor Making ceremony took place in Blackburn Town Hall last night, where Councillor Suleman Khonat spoke about his passion for helping people across communities and raising funds for much needed causes.
Cllr Khonat was first elected in 2004 as the Labour councillor for the Shear Brow Ward (now known as the Shear Brow and Corporation Park Ward).
He has been a keen supporter of the East Lancashire Hospice and a volunteer at Pleasington cemetery helping bereaved families during burials.
Speaking last night, he said: “I am honoured, humbled and proud to serve as the Mayor for Blackburn with Darwen, and am looking forward to a positive and successful year ahead.
“I want to help people. There isn’t a family in Blackburn with Darwen who can say they weren’t affected by the past two years. Health, education or employment, everyone has been dealing with something.
“It’s going to be a challenge. After two years, things are opening up now. I know I’m going to be busy.
“Blackburn with Darwen has so much to offer. I want to highlight help for the homeless in the borough. I want to be a champion for mental health, to get people to the services that can help them, show them how they can help each other.
“I’m also passionate about education. I want to find a way to bring first aid education to school children to help bring more health resilience to our communities.”
Cllr Khonat was born and raised in Malawi, Africa, and has lived and worked in Blackburn with Darwen since 1976.
He worked as a weaver at Witton Mill within Blackburn’s textile industry, before going on to be a bus conductor and had a few other jobs, before becoming a successful newsagent owner.
He later became national President for the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, an organisation supporting independent retailers.
Since 2001, Cllr Khonat has served as a magistrate and feels particularly proud to be able to provide this service to the community.
He added: “I speak many languages, so I will be connecting with all communities to engage them and encourage them to get involved and make a positive difference in BwD.”
Mayoress and Consort titles this year will be shared between his children: Sumayya Mayat, Hajra Sath, Reyhana Khonat, Ridwan Khonat, Hameema Khan and Sumaiya Khonat.
Cllr Parwaiz Akhtar has been appointed Deputy Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen.
Cllr Khonat is still selecting the charities he will use his Mayoral year to support. He is giving charities in Blackburn with Darwen the chance to put themselves forward as his Mayoral charities – and he’d like to help as many as possible during his time in office.
Any charities that would like the Mayor’s support this year, or anyone who wants to nominate a local charity, can contact the Mayor’s office by emailing email@example.com or calling