Erewash mayor Abey Stevenson has travelled a long way to Erewash from his extraordinary beginnings in Bombay, India.
But the first citizen of the borough certainly does not take the position lightly.
And the respect he has for hardworking, community-minded people is only too evident.
Mayor Stevenson, 74, said he saw the role as a real opportunity to bring that hard work to the forefront of people’s minds.
“You meet so many dedicated, hardworking people who do everything for their community, asking nothing in return, that not only does it humble you, it actually makes you weep,” said Abey.
“I really have never had the opportunity to meet so many generous-hearted people before. “
Councillor Stevenson has represented the Little Eaton Breadsall ward on Erewash Borough Council since 2011 and in 2015 was re-elected to represent the wards which now include Stanley.
But he admits that being mayor is nothing like being a councillor.
“As a councillor you are dealing with day-to-day problems but as mayor you are representing the whole borough.”
Abey was born in Bombay and went on to attend boarding school in the Hill Station town of Panchgani.
He later came to England and enrolled at Loughborough College studying Mechanical Engineering, going on to work for Derby’s International Combustion and finally joining the project management team on Dungeness Nuclear Power Station.
After leaving IC Limited Abey set up Ziggi’s, a fashion store on Derby’s Sadler Gate.
The Erewash mayor, now a hands-on great-grandfather of five, retired from his business in 2009 but he finds it hard to pinpoint which part of his professional past he draws on most in his current office.
“I think most of my previous roles have a part to play in what I bring to the mayor’s office,” said Coun Stevenson.
“But being a father has taught me a lot about the importance of communication and getting priorities right when there are so many other things going on.
“The most important part of this role will be to appreciate the vital work which charitable groups I meet do and making certain I get them before officers at the council to find help and grants to keep them going.”
“And it really is a question of trying to help as many people as possible. That will be my priority this year.
“I want to meet as many charitable organisations as I can so I can understand the work they do.”
And with so many good causes out there Abey has chosen to hold a charity pot from which groups and organisations from within the borough will benefit at the end of the civic year.
As a keen car enthusiast the mayor can be found most nights labouring under a car in his garage but he is no doubt that he needs to be in top gear in order to do a good job for the borough of Erewash.
He said: “I think Erewash is doing very well. The work we are doing in the borough is succeeding but I want is to be the person who can help identify ways of improving our service.”
The main duties of the mayor are procedural and ceremonial.
And for this reason the mayor is the borough council’s principal civic representative and as first citizen is seen as the representative of all people living in the borough.
The functions of the mayor are carried out in four ways:
l As chair of the borough council
l By representing the council and the community at outside engagements
l By presiding at or hosting civic functions which organised by the council
l By helping to raise money for charity.