LETTER: A special year

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I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of the residents for giving me a sensational year as the Mayor of Crawley.

It is amazing how many different and vibrant groups, places and individuals there are in Crawley.

Being the Mayor of Crawley, provides you with that rare opportunity to interact with individuals and organisations that you normally would not.

For myself, being the first Hindu mayor of Crawley was indeed an honour and privilege. It astounded and pleased me that all of the BAME community shared that honour and privilege with me, not only did they invite me into their places of worship, to their social, cultural and religious functions, but also to many of their private functions. I am proud to say that most of the leadership of the Mandirs (Hindu), Gurudawaras (sikh) Temples, Mosques and Churches joined myself and many councillors , along with an assortments of mayors and dignitaries from around sussex and beyond, in our magnificent council chamber and the Civic Hall, to celebrate Eid, Diwali, Christmas, Raksha- Bandhan Easter and Vaisakhi festivals.

There are too many great moments to recollect, so I will mention only a few.

The Civic Service at the Hindu Temple in Ifield was very special, with my family, friends and a very large ‘Chain Gang’( collection of Mayors) in presence. On the day my precious 10 year old granddaughter Maya , reciting shlokas and hymns from the Hindu scriptures in front of over 400 people, a very emotional and proud moment for me.

The numerous times I had the privilege of meeting, greeting and addressing the very talented Cubs and Scouts of Crawley and their very dedicated and able leaders.

The all singing all dancing multi-cultural and colourful Civic Ball and fundraiser at the Hawth. Very appropriately called the Days of the Raj, not mine but that of Queen Victoria. That was an excellent evening , where most of the visiting mayors along with the High Sheriff, councillors and their partners dressed up in colourful saris, Punjabi suits and sherwanis, as well as in a pit helmet, but not shorts, as well as soldiers dressed up in uniforms of that era. The dancers and musicians performed to a spellbound audiences, only to be matched by a very yummy curry meal.

Finally, I would say the charity skydive, a challenge set up by my predecessor and taken up by myself, was one of the most exhilarating 7-minutes experience. This will be a set format for all of the future mayors.

I am happy to announce that we raised over £10,000 for my chosen charity, The Crawley Community Youth Services. A very deserving group, who will put it to very good use for the benefits of all the young people of Crawley, at grassroots levels.

I hope my mayoral year will be most remembered for bringing all of the communities not only together, but inviting them to the council chambers and introducing them to our glorious heritage, which I understand we are likely to lose in the very near future. My thanks to each and every one who contributed to make my year a very special one for me. I shall endeavour to work hard as the councillor for Southgate to promote to promote community cohesion, and unity. For me there will always be “One Crawley - one Community”. Thank you all.

Raj Sharma

Crawley Borough Council (Lab, Southgate)

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