THROUGHOUT my mayoral term, the Mayoress and I have had the opportunity to attend some truly spectacular live performances, fundraising events and award ceremonies. But in my final days as the Mayor of Woking 2022-23, I’ve been reminded that sometimes, smaller, intimate gatherings to celebrate a loved one, can be just as memorable and heart-warming.

This week I got to see Margaret Rapley, aged 99 years and 10 months, fulfil her dream of walking her great granddaughter down the aisle. In an all-round display of love and affection, great granddaughter Bianca and her now husband Mark, successful tied the knot at Kingsleigh Care Home with the help of the staff there, much to the delight and inclusion of Margaret. It was a beautiful moment and I wish the happy couple well.

Cllr Hussain with Mark, Margaret and Bianca. (Picture supplied)

After serving as Deputy Mayor for an unprecedented three years (due to the pandemic), I can say it was well worth the wait.  It has been the greatest honour and privilege of my life to meet so many Woking residents, volunteers and business entrepreneurs who all do so much to make Woking such a special place. 

An early highlight of my Mayoral Year was the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and the lighting of Woking’s Community Beacon in front of a huge crowd in Jubilee Square. The weather was kind, the atmosphere was brilliant, and the feeling of unity with the rest of the nation will stay with me for a long time.

A month or so later, I welcomed more than a hundred guests, including representatives of the High Commissioner for India, to the annual Commemoration Service at the Muslim Burial Ground Peace Garden, which has been a calm oasis for thought and prayer in Woking since 2015. 

The Mayoral robes are only worn on formal occasions, of which there have been a lot during my term. From proclaiming the accession of a new king to leading the tributes to Queen Elizabeth II, I’m honoured to have presided over these historic events and proud of the way we came together as a borough in recognition of the monarchy’s service and contribution to our nation’s heritage.

We all know that volunteers play an enormous part in many of Woking’s community groups, and I have been so impressed to see first-hand the work they do and the difference they make to the lives of so many. I was delighted to formally welcome people to the Woking Voluntary Sector Fair last November, showcasing volunteering opportunities and offering residents the chance to find out more about what community support is available to them.

As a proud member of the Royal British Legion, I have also enjoyed meeting current and former armed services personnel. Another highlight of my year was re-signing Woking’s Military Covenant reaffirming the council’s commitment to supporting the borough’s armed force community. Woking’s drop-in sessions for ex-servicemen at Woking Fire Station have really taken off this past year, and I would like to thank Surrey Fire and Rescue Service for all it is doing to support our veterans.

Whether celebrating Diwali, Christmas or the many other Woking events which I have been privileged to attend, this past year has been both thrilling and humbling, with memories I will always treasure.

There are many people I need to thank – too many for this column, but I must acknowledge the team at LinkAble for its fundraising support, and Pauline Jackson at the council, who makes many of the Mayor’s fundraising and civic events happen. I’m enormously grateful for their help and hard work over the past year.