Page last updated at 08:08 GMT, Friday, 16 May 2008 09:08 UK

City gets Asian woman lord mayor

Manjula Sood
Mrs Sood was sworn in at Leicester Town Hall

A former schoolteacher has been sworn in as Leicester's first Asian woman Lord Mayor.

Councillor Manjula Sood was inaugurated in a ceremony at the city's Town Hall on Thursday evening.

Mrs Sood, 60, who has lived in the city for more than 30 years, said she wanted other women from ethnic minorities to become involved in civic life.

She said: "This is great news for a great city, especially as a woman who came here to make it her home."

'No heating'

Mrs Sood arrived in Leicester from India in the 1970s.

"I want to reach as many communities as possible. I want to visit schools and hospitals and make an impact," Mrs Sood said.

Her chosen charity is next year's Special Olympics for people with learning disabilities. The city is hosting the event.

In the 1970s, she moved from a 25-room house in the Punjab district of Ludhiana to a small flat on an inner-city estate with her late husband Paul.

"There were no carpets and no heating and it was snowing. I told my husband 'I'm not staying here'.

"But my granddad told me to make the most of it. He said: 'Definitely not - I have given you an education, now Leicester is your home and Britain is your country'."

"Now I am glad I stayed."

At present, 29.3% of councillors in England are women and 3.1% of them are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Councils need more women - Blears
24 Sep 07 |  UK Politics
City gets first Asian Lord Mayor
22 May 06 |  West Yorkshire
City picks first Asian Lord Mayor
18 May 05 |  Manchester

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