NRI to be Gloucester's 1st Asian mayor
Harjit Gill, a keen hockey player, referee and former resident of Dakoha village on the outskirts of Punjab's Jalandhar city, is all set to make history by becoming the first Asian mayor of Britain's Gloucester city.
Gill, the newly re-elected Labour city councillor for Barton and Tredworth, is due to be inaugurated as the city's 527th mayor on May 21. He emerged victorious in the May 3 local elections, defeating Liberal Democrat candidate Shabbir Ahmed Bham.
A "popular" figure in Barton and Tredworth, Gill has worked as a postmaster and became the city's first Asian councillor in 2003. He later set another record in 2004 by becoming Gloucester's first Asian sheriff.
Gill has been mayor of Barton - an area of Gloucester city, which elects its own mayor - for two years from 1999.
Gill, 52, told the reporters in London: "I'm just looking forward to serving the people of Gloucester. There have been 526 mayors so it's taken a long time to see a mayor from an ethnic minority. But I'm very close to every community in my area.
But he does not want to be identified with one community alone.
"I just want to carry on working hard for the people of Gloucester. We must have representation from different communities, but my aim is to represent every member of the public, not just one community."
As a hockey player, who donned India colours at international hockey events and had the entire Indian hockey team attending his wedding with Britain-born Jasminder in 1978, Gill says he always loved challenges.
He moved to Britain the same year he married after completing his Masters in political science from Jalandhar. He had not even met Jasminder till he arrived in England to marry her.
The couple has two children - son Gurkamal, 26, and daughter Amrit, 24.
"It feels great to have a friend like him who goes on to become mayor in his adopted country," his friend for three decades Arvind Abrol said from Dakoha.
He still plays referee at local hockey events. He took the Gloucester police hockey team to India in 1998 to play matches with Indian police teams.
The mayor-in-waiting is now organising a trip of the British police orchestra to India.
He told reporters in London: "It's an excellent way for people to learn about other countries. I think Gloucester is well known for its good community relations. I work in the heart of it and that's what I see every day."