Bolton’s new mayor has made history as the first Muslim and the first person of Asian heritage to take up the role.

At an emotional ceremony held on Wednesday morning, Cllr Akhtar Zaman, who represents Halliwell, took over the role from outgoing Mayor Cllr Linda Thomas.

For the new Mayor this was the culmination of a long journey that begun with his birth in a small village in Pakistan.

Quoting lines of poetry his father sent him as a young man, Cllr  Zaman said: "I have given my blood for the betterment of this orchid, remember me when the spring arrives."

As his speech reached its conclusion, he turned again to thank his late father, adding: “now the spring is here."

Cllr Zaman also thanked his mother for her many years of support.

He said: "Wherever I am, whatever I have today it is because of you."

The Bolton News:

Cllr Akhtar Zaman with outgoing Mayor Linda Thomas

The new mayor attributes much of his drive to family influences, with his father and uncles all having served in the British Indian Army.

He said: “If you see a little bit of military style, discipline and precision, now you know where it comes from."

Coming to Bolton at the age of just 18, Cllr Zaman has spent his professional life working in the voluntary and public sectors, latterly for Lancaster University.

He and his wife Nargis, who will serve as Mayoress, have since made Bolton their home with his children and grandchildren all having been born and raised in the borough.

The Bolton News:

Newly minted Bolton Mayor and Mayoress Cllr Akhtar Zaman and Nargis Zaman

Cllr Zaman was proposed for the role by newly reconfirmed Council leader Martyn Cox who spoke of his long friendship with Cllr Zaman and about the importance of forging bonds across party lines.

The proposal was seconded by former Mayor Cllr Martin Donaghy who said hid did so “with absolute pride.”

He said: “If you need a friend, Akhtar is there for you."

Cllr Donaghy added that the new mayor "has always fought discrimination in all its many forms."

He will now spend the next year raising money for the borough’s charities, supporting businesses and presiding over council meetings.