History was made in Birmingham as the city elected the first ever British-Indian Lord Mayor who arrived to the country in 1964 as a youngster with his mother.

Proud Brummie Chaman Lal, who was Councillor of the Soho & Jewellery Quarter for 29 years, is the first British-Indian person from the Sikh faith to take office as Lord Mayor of Birmingham.

New Lord Mayor Lal praised the “strong women in his life” who have inspired him over the years, and said he loves Birmingham in his speech at the mayoral ceremony which was held in the Council House on Tuesday (23 May).

Son of an army officer who served in the British-Indian forces during the campaign against Mussolini’s fascists in Italy in World War II, the new Lord Mayor of Birmingham was born in the Punjab.

He waved goodbye to the village of Pakhowal, in the Hoshiar Pur district, at the tender age of 11 and emigrated to Birmingham in 1964 with his mother.

Chaman Lal is the first ever British-Indian to take office as Lord Mayor of BirminghamDev Mahey
Cllr Chaman Lal is the first ever British-Indian to take office as Lord Mayor of Birmingham

Despite not speaking a word of English, the young man was determined to discover and learn the language of his new country and embrace the diverse people of Birmingham city.

He went on to study economics and law, and later opened a successful electronics business.

As he took up the post of Lord Mayor at a special ceremony inside the Council House, he said he was “proud and honoured” to serve the city.

He also promised to work hard and be inclusive in his role as Lord Mayor: “I want to be known not as lord mayor of Birmingham, but lord mayor for all the people of Birmingham.’

Lord Mayor of Birmingham Chaman Lal and his wife, Lady Mayoress Vidya WatiBCC
Lord Mayor of Birmingham Chaman Lal and his wife, Lady Mayoress Vidya Wati

As he accepted the post, the Lord Mayor addressed the distinguished guests at the mayoral ceremony and said: “It is a very proud moment for me and our family, as a son of an army officer born in India, but made in Birmingham. I am an adopted Brummie, and I never thought that one day I would become the lord mayor of my adopted city.

“I would like to thank my fellow councillors for electing me as their first citizen and of our great city which happens to be the highest civic role entrusted to a serving councillor.

“I would like to thank all the residents and Soho and Jewellery Quarter for their continued support over the past 29 years.”

Lord Mayor Lal also vowed to “promote” Birmingham and to “make it even greater”.

Lord Mayor of Birmingham Chaman Lal and his wife, Lady Mayoress Vidya Wati.BrumLordMayor
Lord Mayor of Birmingham Chaman Lal said “behind every successful man is a great woman”

During his mayoral speech the Lord Mayor also thanked and mentioned the inspirational women in his life: “As the saying goes behind every successful man is a great woman which happens to be true in my life, as I couldn’t have made this achievement without the support of some very important women in my life.”

Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Majid Mahmood, congratulated the new Lord Mayor: “Huge congratulations to my good friend Cllr Chaman Lal the newly elected Lord Mayor of Birmingham.

“Chaman, born in India, made in Birmingham is the first Brummie of both Indian origin and from the Sikh faith to become our first citizen.”

Cllr Waseem Zaffar (Lab, Lozells), added: “Today, my amazing friend, Councillor Chaman Lal took office as the Lord Mayor of Birmingham – he and the Lady Mayoress, Vidya, are the first Indian origin first citizens of the city – such a lovely family who have given years of service to the community.”

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