New mayor for Wokingham 2021 to 2022
At last week’s annual council meeting, Cllr Keith Baker was elected mayor of the Borough of Wokingham for the coming year (2021-2022). He takes over the chain of functions from Cllr Malcolm Richards.
The mayor is officially the “first citizen” of the borough to have a civic role, representing the council and the population of the borough as well as chairing the meetings of the borough council. Unless Her Majesty the Queen or her representative is present, the mayor takes precedence over any other dignitary during events.
Cllr Baker said: “It is a great honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to represent our fantastic borough as mayor. I look forward to the year ahead. The past year has been extremely difficult for everyone. There is not a single person in our borough who has not been affected. I want to thank everyone for their incredible hard work and commitment to the Borough of Wokingham during the pandemic.
“As the restrictions start to diminish, I hope to be able to go out and meet many people and organizations in the Borough of Wokingham who not only make our Borough a great place to live and work, but also impact at the heart of our community.
Cllr keith baker
Cllr Keith Baker has represented the Coronation Ward in Woodley since 2006. He has been head of Woodley City Council since 2011 and has held various leadership positions on Borough Council including Chief, Member of Highways and planning and chairman of the overview and review management committee. For more than a decade he has been a principal at Addington School, one of the best special needs schools in the country. In June 2019, he received an MBE for his contribution to public and political services.
Cllr Baker is a well-known figure in Woodley having lived there for almost three decades with his 21-year-old wife. Now retired, he worked as a Marketing Director for an IT networking company after spending over 30 years in the IT industry in a variety of roles spanning the UK, Europe and around the world. He has six grandchildren with two families living locally and one in New York City, USA.
His interests are wide and varied – he says he follows most sports from the comfort of his armchair, with rugby being his favorite. His other love is the theater. Former president of the Woodley Light Operatic Society, he spent 20 years helping local youth theater group Starmaker as assistant stage manager.
Mayor of Wokingham chooses local charity
The mayor traditionally chooses a local charity to benefit from a fundraiser during the year of his mandate. This year, Cllr Baker chose Chance to Dance Stars CIC, a dance school for students and families in the disability community. Chance to Dance opened in Reading in 2013 with two classes every fortnight and this has now expanded in 2021 to nine classes taking place between Reading, Coley and Bracknell.
There is a class specifically for wheelchair dancers and dance moves classes that cater to students who need extra physical support in order to get the most out of the class. The other six classes are divided by many factors such as age, physical level, communication, ability to follow directions, and overall focus.
Cllr Baker added: “I chose this charity because it combines two of my passionate interests, namely the performing arts and providing new opportunities for children with special needs.
Cllr Baker’s deputy for the year is Cllr Abdul Loyes, who represents Loddon Ward. He has lived in the Borough of Wokingham since 1976 and is married to Nina and has three children, two of whom are college graduates and the youngest is due to graduate later this year.
In addition to being a local advisor, Cllr Loyes also runs his own restaurant business, is a real estate investor and is a director of a local and national charity. Elected in 2019, he previously represented the Loddon district on the Borough Council for 2006-2010 and 2011-2019. During her tenure as an advisor, Cllr Loyes served on numerous committees and assisted local populations concerned with issues ranging from planning to bus services to anti-social behavior.