Cardiff Lord Mayor reflects on 'busy and delightful' year in office

With around 270 official engagements under her belt, including tree-planting ceremonies, charity fund-raisers, Royal salutes and school visits, no-one can say Bablin Molik has spent the past year as Cardiff's Lord Mayor twiddling her thumbs.

"It's been both busy and delightful at the same time," she said. "I knew it would be an honour and a privilege to serve as Cardiff's first citizen and I didn't want to miss any of it. Every engagement has been delightful in its own way."

Even before her diary began to fill up, her year was always going to be memorable. As the first woman of colour, and the first Muslim to serve as Cardiff's Lord Mayor, she has been something of a trailblazer. But it's a tribute to her capacity for hard work that she has taken it all in her stride.

She has managed to fulfil her duties while, at the same time, working as the CEO of Sight Cymru, a charity supporting people with sight loss in Wales, continuing to handle her casework as a ward councillor for Cyncoed, and – not least – helping her husband bring up two daughters.

"I wanted to prove it can be done," she said. "As women, we often think it’s not possible for us due to other responsibilities we have, it was important to me to show working women with care responsibilities could do these things and do them well. It's been hard work – and some weeks have been more tiring than others – but it was an experience I would not have wanted to miss."

One of her engagements has been to officiate at the weekly ceremonies in which migrants who have been working for British citizenship are granted their new status. "As someone from a foreign land myself (she arrived in Britain from Bangladesh in the 1980s aged just six) these ceremonies have been especially significant for me. We've had people from across the globe, America, New Zealand and everywhere in between, coming here. Cardiff and the UK are enriched and stronger because of its diversity."

She has played no small part herself in helping to promote diversity, hosting an iftar (Muslim fast-breaking) party during Ramadan this year at the Mansion House and inspiring young people of all ethnicities during her engagements to learn more about democracy and take part in the democratic process.

"When I took over as Lord Mayor last May I found out that the first people from Bangladesh to settle in Cardiff came in the 1700s – that's how long it took for a member of that community, a community that has lived and served in this great capital city, to become recognised as the first citizen," she said. "It was a long journey and I owe this to those founding fathers – and mothers – who came here and settled here despite all the challenges and made Cardiff their home.

"When my family came here we were different in so many respects – mixing in has always been a challenge, especially as a Muslim girl in a Catholic school, but it's important that those mixes happen to build a better society. It's been a learning experience on both sides – I wanted to show that someone like me from that community can hold this kind of position. This was essential for our next generations to be able to recognise themselves in such roles. We are all trying to better ourselves and the communities we live in, if we are all given opportunities to contribute to the best of our abilities then we grow stronger as a nation."

Central to her year as Lord Mayor has been the Cardiff-based UCAN Productions charity which helps children and young adults with sight loss. "I was aware of them through my work and knew how much they did with the people they helped, giving them great confidence to achieve so much. We have raised more than £35,000 so far. There are still some fund-raising events that will take place during the summer but by the end I hope we will have raised much more for such a worthy cause."

  • Cllr Molik ends her year as Lord Mayor at the Council’s annual general meeting on Thursday (May 23) when she will be succeeded by her current deputy, Cllr Jane Henshaw. Her deputy for the year will be Cllr Helen Lloyd Jones.