My year as a Lord Mayor’s Student Consort

It was a year ago when former councillor Al Garthwaite was elected as The Lord Mayor of Leeds, along with her long-time friend Lady Mayoress Hon Alderwoman Angela Gabriel. By late October, an email was sent out to students across Leeds Beckett University regarding upcoming careers and voluntary services. Within the email there was a small advertisement promoting the Lord Mayor and asking all those who were interested to join her as a Student Consort. Around twelve candidates were asked to part take in an assessment day, where we were put on the spot to present ourselves in front of the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of which eight were successful.

I was always fascinated about the roles of such dignitaries as they purported to be an elusive figure, especially coming from the small town of Tunbridge Wells to a big cosmopolitan city, such people were hard to find. To have an opportunity to have an insider’s perspective and understand what a Lord Mayor is and what they do, has developed my understanding of this significant role. To have the opportunity to accompany a mayor and to experience the celebrated diversity of this amazing city was an absolute pleasure.

It is often thought that students are always seen to be living in their own bubble, without any thought to what lies beyond the view of our university and the local pub. To be given to opportunity liaise with the mayor, one can understand that a Lord Mayor is not just about cutting ribbons and being non-political. A Lord Mayor is the cultural thread that binds the city together creating a tapestry of cultural unity. I believe that Al has done this with great integrity and devotion, from personal experience I can see her enthusiasm and dedication as she would attend every engagement with a passionate aura which would often light up a room.

Unlike majority of jobs, a Lord Mayor’s office hours are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. More often than not, many engagements are back-to-back, and some may last longer than 4 hours. The sheer willingness to put her duties before her own needs is admirable, of course none of which would have been done without the amazing team who are always on standby to help her perform her duties.

Looking back at my time with the Lord Mayor, I remember the amazing people, events, and charities I have met along the way. I did not know that Leeds was full of such incredible people who have set up organisations to help and engage with the large diaspora of citizens and local communities alike. However, it was in the quiet moments with The Lord Mayor which stuck with me the most.

The office in the Civic Hall that was once a daunting prospect, had become a homely environment in which I could spend time with Al and Angela and get to know them better. Their achievements alone ranging from starting the Reclaim the Night marches to managing Beeston in Bloom is commendable. It is apparent that both Al and Angela are incredibly devoted to Leeds and has given so much to the city. It is without question that none of this would be possible without the help of the secretaries and the drivers Mark and Stephen who have been so wonderful in imparting their local knowledge of Leeds as well as making me laugh.

I would like to thank Al, Angela and all those who have made this experience possible, it was a privilege to serve them and the people of Leeds.


This post was written by Yuvaraj Parmar

Photo: Yuvaraj Parmar (right) with Lord Mayor, Cllr Al Garthwaite (centre) and Lady Mayoress Hon Alderwoman Angela Gabriel (left) at Leeds Civic Hall

We encourage anyone living or working in South Leeds to use this website to tell their news. You can either use the Create an article for South Leeds Life page, or email us at:


While you’re here, can we ask a favour?

South Leeds Life is published by a not-for-profit social enterprise. We keep our costs as low as possible but we’ve been hit by increases in the print costs for our monthly newspaper which have doubled in the last two years.

Could you help support local community news by making a one off donation, or even better taking out a supporters subscription?

Donate here, or sign up for a subscription at

Thank you for your support

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *