Alexis Diouf, Mayor of Chesterfield

Following in the footsteps of humble servants.

It is just over six weeks since that Wednesday afternoon when I put on the traditional red robe and black tricorn in Chesterfield Borough Council chambers.

I became the town’s 374th mayor following in the footsteps of illustrious servants of the town, some of whose relatives we have met at various engagements.

I was humbled to be elected but even more so when I saw all the people who turned out at the parade and the civic service. That was only the start of a wonderful love shown to the mayoress and myself so far in our year.

We thank you all and promise to be your servants, champions and representatives.

Since my election, the mayoress and I have attended numerous events in the borough, some big but most of them small in attendance but big in the lives of people concerned.

Our theme “Home and Away” reflects not only the fact I am privileged to have two countries (Senegal and the UK) but my wish to continue to build bridges between my community of Walton and those in other areas of the borough of Chesterfield as well as those in other areas of the UK and abroad.

It is 55 years since Chesterfield and Darmstadt were twinned. The Mayoress and I went to the European Weekend in Darmstadt in May. Darmstadt has 16 European twin towns and it was wonderful to see all these towns’ representatives being warmly welcomed by people in Darmstadt. I was surprised to see how much people of Darmstadt appreciate and value the exchanges between their town and Chesterfield.

Following the 8km “Grenzgang” walk through the forest, we joined in the celebration of the diversity of the communities in Darmstadt. Luisenplatz was bustling with food and craft stalls from diverse ethnic communities. Various bands and musical groups went on stage.

What struck me most, was the fact that it was not Darmstadt Council which lead the event but different community organisations in the town. Businesses, big and small,sponsored various parts of the weekend.

I took the opportunity to speak about our wonderful town of Chesterfield and the importance of people seeking always to foster understanding between people of different backgrounds.

Although less intensively than in past years, there are still fruitful school exchanges between Chesterfield and Darmstadt as well as between community organisations.

What we, as communities and individuals who value these exchanges, need to do now is highlight the benefits of these exchanges through well publicised events, getting the business community in Chesterfield involved.

I hope together we will succeed in keeping the flames of friendship, understanding and solidarity, burning bright to lighten our today and our tomorrow.