PENDLE’S new first citizen is to dedicate his mayoral year to raising funds in memory of a colleague and friend who died two months ago.

Coun Asjad Mahmood, 35, takes over the role of mayor today and will support Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, the Rainbows at the Holden Centre in Barrowford, and Derian House Children’s Hospice during his civic year.

Coun Mahmood works as an MRI radiographer at Burnley General Hospital, having trained at the University of Salford and Hope Hospital.

He said: “Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research is particularly close to my heart as a friend and colleague of mine, Mary Burke, recently died from the illness.

“She was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years ago. Then four months ago she developed leukaemia as a very rare side-effect of her treatment.

Sadly she died in March of this year.

“Before she died I talked to her about using my mayoral year to help raise money to fund research into leukaemia. Of course, she thought it was a great idea.”

Mary, 48, was a mother-of-one who lived in Witton Road, Whalley, and worked with Coun Mahmood at Burnley General Hospital.

Coun Mahmood is a former pupil of Lomeshaye Primary School, Edge End High School and Nelson and Colne College.

Having grown up in Nelson, he now lives in Barrowford with his wife of almost seven years, Samina Khan, who will be his mayoress.

He said: “Samina and I are both excited about representing Pendle as mayor and mayoress.

“It’s a real honour and we’re most looking forward to getting out and meeting lots of Pendle people over the next year.”