Liberal Democrat councillor Thay Thayalan outlined his intention to build a community of respect, tolerance, courtesy and love after being sworn in as mayor of Kingston upon Thames.
In an interfaith ceremony that reflected the diversity of the borough, the chains of office were ceremonially passed from outgoing Mayor Julie Pickering, to the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames’ 183rd Mayor.
Mr Thayalan came to the UK from Sri Lanka as a post-graduate student in the 1970’s and has lived in Kingston for the past 42 years, having first been elected in 2014 for Tolworth and Hook Rise ward.
“Kingston is a vibrant borough,” he said.
“I’m enjoying being Mayor and I’m looking forward to getting involved.”
The mayor has been involved in charity work for most of his life and was involved in the setting up and running of the Kingston Institute of Tamil Culture which has been running for 32 years.
“It was important to teach the second generation Tamil’s here about their roots, where they come from, their language and culture,” he said.
“I’ve worked with all different communities and want to represent everyone.”
Councillor Thayalan has appointed his wife Lata Thayalan as his Mayoress. The new deputy mayor will be Councillor Olivia Boult and her escort will be Jamie Wallace
Councillor Thayalan was one of the founding members of charity Global Arts Kingston which promotes the culture and arts of Kingston’s different cultural groups.
The continuing promotion of arts is something he is keen to keep up during his tenure and one of the official mayor’s charities will be Creative Youth.
The charity launched the week long International Youth Arts Festival Kingston in 2009 and Mayor Thayalan said he is excited to see the community come together again this year.
After a visit to the Kingston Samaritans last year he was exceptionally impressed with the charities work in the borough.
“The charity is 50 this year and I am pleased to be supporting them,” he said.
“It’s important for people to know they have somewhere they can turn to.”
Inclusivity and the celebration of diversity is at the heart of Mayor Thayalan’s legacy, he was chair of the Race and Equality Council for eight years and a founder of the Kingston Carnival.
The Race and Equality Council is his third charity choice and will also benefit from his promotion and the funds raised through the Mayoral ball and gala.
He opened the Kingston Community Refugee Sponsorship charity last week which is mainly aimed at Syrian Refugees.
Last year Kingston Council committed to resettling 50 refugees in the borough and Mayor Thayalan said they are aiming to raise £9000 to help the families.
The welcoming heart of the borough is at the centre of the new mayor’s legacy and he is kicking off with the first £100 pledge for Kingston’s newest Syrian residents.