The new Mayor of Oldham has promised to dedicate his entire Mayoral year to granting residents’ wishes – in an update to the role’s more traditional approach to charity fundraising.
Councillor Zahid Chauhan OBE, who today (Wednesday 24 May) donned Oldham’s prestigious chains and robes for the first time at Annual Council, is eager to make as big an impact as possible on the lives of local people.
The Mayor, who also practices as a local GP, particularly wants to support those in hardship and those most deserving of something special.
Instead of fundraising for specific causes, the Mayor is set to launch ‘Truly Wished’, a project which aims to give directly back to the people of Oldham.
Councillor Chauhan said: “I am truly honoured and delighted to be taking on the role of Mayor and I am really looking forward to giving back as much as I can to the people of my hometown over the next 12 months.
“Sadly, we all know of someone who has experienced real difficulty, or someone who deserves the chance to experience something special in their life, particularly during the current Cost of Living crisis.
“That’s why, in a change to tradition, I will be giving the money I raise directly back to Oldhamers by making as many of their wishes come true.”
Through “Truly Wished”, people across Oldham will be invited to nominate someone they know, who they think deserves to have a wish granted.
Every nomination must explain why the person was nominated, what their wish would be and how it would make a difference to that person’s life.
Examples could include someone who has raised a large amount for charity, a person who is really struggling and is deserving of a long overdue pick-me-up, or someone who cares for the needs of others before their own.
All wishes up to a maximum value of £500 will be eligible for consideration, with the final decision on which ones are granted being made by the Mayoral Committee – with no involvement from the Mayor himself.
The Mayor is donating his full Mayoral allowance of £16,495 to the cause and already has support from some local businesses. Last year, Cllr Chauhan also donated his entire allowance as Deputy Mayor to Oldham Foodbank.
However, you can also help to make someone’s wish come true by donating to the Mayor’s Charity appeal which will be used to fund Truly Wished.
For more information on how you can do this and further details on Truly Wished, visit www.trulywished.org.
Today’s Mayor Making ceremony took place in the Council Chamber where, in a change to previous years, proceedings were scaled down.
Budget savings agreed in March 2023, meant that the Mayor Making’s formal dinner would be replaced only by afternoon tea and would be sourced from local suppliers, although the Mayor has offered to make a personal contribution to this.
In another change to some Mayoral traditions, Cllr Chauhan has also decided to replace prayers before official council meetings with inspirational stories and poems about Oldham.
“The Mayoral chains aren’t just for show,” Cllr Chauhan added.
“They are worn to signify what it means to represent this borough and every resident who lives here, no matter your background or religion.
“That’s why I would much rather use the time before official meetings, not for me, but as a platform to remind everyone of our many inspiring local achievements and to strengthen our civic pride.”
On Sunday 28 May, the Mayor will lead a procession through Oldham town centre before attending a Civic Service at Oldham Parish from 10.30am.
Here, Cllr Chauhan will be officially invested as honorary church warden for his year of Office and this service is open to all members of the public.