Cambridge Elects First Malayalee Mayor

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Councillor Baiju Thittala was elected as Mayor of Cambridge.

In a landmark event, Cambridge City councillors have elected Councillor Baiju Thittala as its first Malayalee Mayor. Baiju Varkey Thittala, a Labour Party member, will serve a one-year term as mayor. Having served as a councillor for several years and as deputy mayor for the past year, his election is a proud moment for both the UK Malayalee community and the global Malayalee diaspora.

Baiju, who hails from Arpookara in Kottayam, is the son of Pappachan and Alice from Thittala, Arpookara. His wife, Ancy Thittala, a nursing home unit manager in Cambridge, hails from the Melukunnel family in Muttuchira, Kottayam. They have three children: Anna Thittala, Alan Thittala, and Alphonse Thittala.

Baiju has been working as a solicitor, specializing as a criminal defense lawyer. He is actively involved in discussions on issues concerning UK Malayalees and participated in the Bharat Jodo Yatra with Rahul Gandhi. Baiju is also a member of the CLP Executive Committee of the Labour Party, the main opposition party in the UK.

As Mayor, Cllr Thittala intends to focus on championing social justice, equality, and inclusion, with his mayoral themes being deep diversity, inclusivity, and pluralism.

One of Cllr Thittala’s chosen mayoral charities is Cambridge Street Aid, the council’s award-winning initiative which supports rough sleepers. Street Aid gives people who want to support rough sleepers an alternative to handing money directly by pooling people’s donations and giving more meaningful grants to people to support them to make lasting change.

The other mayoral charity is the new world-class Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital, which has the potential to facilitate breakthroughs in early detection of cancer and lead the way in delivering bespoke, precision treatments that will radically improve patient outcomes worldwide, enabled in part thanks to local philanthropists.

Cllr Thittala said: “In 2018, I was elected to represent East Chesterton in the by-election, becoming one of only a handful of first-generation people from a minority ethnic background to be a councillor in the history of Cambridge City Council.

“Since then, I have continued to campaign to build a fairer society, whether in my role as Lead Councillor for Equalities, or my ongoing commitment to supporting my community, as a way of repaying the support I received myself when I first arrived here from Kerala.

“Having experienced homelessness myself, I can better understand the pain, sorrows, sufferings, and agonies of the people who are homeless.

“Even in my professional practice, I have seen people going to prison because they are homeless, inspiring the choice of Street Aid as one of my mayoral charities.”

Cllr Mike Davey, Leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “I am particularly proud that Baiju will be the first person of colour to hold the mayoralty in Cambridge.

“It’s been great to welcome the Natyanjali School of Dance and Samarpana Classical Arts to the Guildhall today showcasing traditional classical dance, sharing some of Baiju’s heritage with us. Following a successful year as Deputy Mayor, I know he will build on the work he has already done to champion the voices of minority groups in Cambridge and I look forward to supporting new initiatives in the year ahead.

“Thank you to our outgoing Mayor, Cllr Jenny Gawthrope Wood, for her work this year. Jenny has used her role to build bridges across the Cambridge community, working both with long-standing institutions and local charities.

“One of my personal highlights was an event organised by Jenny, with support from Sonita Alleyne, Master of Jesus College, linking up Cambridge colleges with local charities to form worthwhile and hopefully long-term connections. This is work that as a council we can and must do.”

 

 

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