LEICESTER, United Kingdom – A Catholic has been elected as the Lord Mayor of Westminster, the area of London that houses the British government.

Councillor Robert Rigby was elected by the Westminster City Council on May 15.

The Lord Mayor is a largely ceremonial position, with the political duties carried out by the leader of the council.

“Catholicism plays a big part in my life, and I try every day to lead a life which reflects those values. I see it as a strength and feel it will be invaluable in my year of office where I will be attending more than 500 engagements and meeting thousands of people from many different backgrounds,” Rigby said.

He was educated at Ampleforth, which is located at the Benedictine Abbey.

“My education at Ampleforth instilled within me the need to put others first and recognise the two pillars of the rule of St Benedict’s teaching namely ‘listen’ and ‘humility’. Catholic values and social teaching have been and remain important, and that was particularly clear to me during my time as chair of the Catholic Union,” he said.

The Lord Mayor’s chaplain will be Father Christopher Colven, past Rector of St. James’s Church in Marylebone, and is currently the Catholic Chaplain to the Houses of Parliament.

“It is a huge honour and an enormous privilege to accept this role. Westminster is truly an international and multicultural city, and our diverse and vibrant communities make it special and different from other London local authorities. I very much look forward to meeting and supporting our many communities across the city during my year of office,” Rigby said.

Robert Rigby is the new Lord Mayor of Westminster. (Credit: Westminster City Council.)
Robert Rigby is the new Lord Mayor of Westminster. (Credit: Westminster City Council.)

He currently helps with two charities: The Cardinal Hume Centre – which looks after homeless young people – and the MCC Foundation, which promotes the sport of cricket to different communities across the country through free training and matches.

“I have long been impressed with the work the Cardinal Hume Centre does in providing a lifeline to young people and families. There are complex reasons why people become homeless, and the Cardinal Hume Centre is fantastic at helping young people who, for whatever reasons, have ended up on the streets,” Rigby said.

Speaking about his support for the sport of cricket, he said one of my key themes for the Mayoral year will be getting Westminster’s young people fit and engaged with sport.

“I can think of no better partner than the Marylebone Cricket Club Foundation, which does an amazing job introducing children and teens to the game. Cricket is for everyone, and the MCC Foundation works in communities where young people might not perhaps have thought of trying it,” he said.

Rigby is 63, and worked for 20 years with Japan Airlines, where he met his wife, Emiko.

“As Lord Mayor it will be a year of firsts – the first time Westminster has had a Japanese Lady Mayoress, and I’m pretty sure it will be the first time for a Lord Mayor to run a 10k race in under 40 minutes,” he said.

A keen runner, Rigby is a trustee of the London Marathon Foundation but regularly runs 10k and cross-country races as a member of the Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers.

He said he plans to get young Westminster residents up and running by visiting primary schools and promoting the Daily Mile – the initiative to encourage all young children to walk or run a mile every day – and said he hopes to get as many youngsters as possible to enter the Westminster Mile event in September.

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