New Mayor encourages everyone to get involved in making borough a better place

Published Friday 20 May 2022 at 7:09

A passionate community supporter, volunteer and local Magistrate has become Blackburn with Darwen’s new Mayor.

Councillor Suleman Khonat will serve as Mayor for 2022/23, following the annual Mayor Making ceremony in Blackburn Town Hall last night.

Coun Khonat said:

I am honoured, humbled and proud to serve as the Mayor for Blackburn with Darwen, and am looking forward to a positive and successful year ahead.

I want to help people. There isn’t a family in Blackburn with Darwen who can say they weren’t affected by the past two years. Health, education or employment, everyone has been dealing with something.

It’s going to be a challenge. After two years, things are opening up now. I know I’m going to be busy.

Blackburn with Darwen has so much to offer. I want to highlight help for the homeless in the borough. I want to be a champion for mental health, to get people to the services that can help them, show them how they can help each other.

I’m also passionate about education. I want to find a way to bring first aid education to school children to help bring more health resilience to our communities.

Coun Khonat was born and raised in Malawi, Africa. He has lived and worked in Blackburn with Darwen since 1976.

Coun Khonat is planning to use his Mayoral year meeting people across our diverse communities and encouraging everyone to help make the borough a better place.

He added:

I speak many languages, so I will be connecting with all communities to engage them and encourage them to get involved and make a positive difference in BwD.

Coun Khonat has selected three main charities to support during his year in office: East Lancashire Hospice, Nightsafe and Anaphylaxis Awareness.

The Mayor, Mayoresses and Consort would also like to support other local charities throughout their Mayoral year by helping raise awareness for them. Coun Khonat is giving charities in Blackburn with Darwen the chance to put themselves forward to get involved with – he’d like to help as many as possible during his time in office.

Any charities that would like the Mayor’s support this year, or anyone who wants to nominate a local charity, can contact the Mayor’s office by emailing or calling 01254 585229.

A widower and a proud father of five children and ten grandchildren, Coun Khonat loves spending time with all of them, especially after the events of the last two years. And his family are keen to support him in this important community role – the BwD Mayoress and Consort titles this year will be shared between his children: Sumayya Mayat, Hajra Sath, Reyhana Khonat, Ridwan Khonat (Consort), Hameema Khan and Sumaiya Khonat, who between them have plenty of professional expertise to share with local organisations and Mayoral charities.

Also at last night’s Annual Council meeting, Coun Parwaiz Akhtar was appointed Deputy Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen.

Anyone who has an event they’d like the Mayor to attend should fill in the online form on the Council website.

The new Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen will be joined by dignitaries from across the area this Sunday, known as Civic Sunday. They will parade from King George’s Hall, through Blackburn town centre and on to the Cathedral for the service at 11.15am.



Coun Khonat was first elected in 2004, as the Labour councillor for the Shear Brow Ward (now known as the Shear Brow and Corporation Park Ward). He has been a committed community servant for over 18 years.

During his councillor career, Coun Khonat has served on several committees including as Vice Chair for the Planning and Highways Committee, as Chair of the Scrutiny Committee, and on the Licencing Committee.

Since 2001, Khonat has served as a local Magistrate and feels particularly proud to be able to provide this service to the community.

Coun Suleman Khonat is a passionate volunteer for East Lancashire Hospice, a cause close to his heart. Along with raising awareness of the services throughout East Lancashire, he has highlighted how the hospice can individually support families and the entire community and helped to raise funds in excess of £250,000 for this worthy cause.

Coun Khonat is also a volunteer with Blackburn Muslim Burial Society which offers a vital support service to local bereaved families.

In 2018 Khonat was shortlisted for a BBC Community Hero Award for his fundraising.

Education for BwD communities is important to Coun Khonat, who has volunteered as a governor of Blackburn’s Tauheedul Islamic Girls’ High School since its start up.

Coun Khonat has lived and worked in Blackburn for over 40 years. He worked as a weaver at Witton Mill within Blackburn’s textile industry. He later worked as a bus conductor and had a few other jobs, before becoming a successful newsagent owner. He later became national President for the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, an organisation supporting independent retailers.

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