THE city’s outgoing mayor Jabba Riaz has remembered a “spectacular” year in which his persistent theme of ‘love not hate’ was tested to the extreme in an eventful 12 months for the city.

Handing over his mayoral chain to Councillor Allah Ditta, who will represent the city as mayor for the next year, Cllr Jabba Riaz said he hoped he had succeeded in his three key aims for his mayoral term.

He said he wanted to make the mayor more accessible to Worcester’s young people, uphold the message of peace and goodwill that Worcester was renowned for and to reach out to the city’s diverse communities and bring them all together.

Cllr Riaz described his mayoral term as “spectacular” in a year which saw the extremely popular Worcester Stands Tall giraffe trail run through the city in support of one of his chosen mayoral charities St Richard’s Hospice as well as the first ever Pride march through the city and the city’s first Polish heritage day.

Cllr Riaz also said he was honoured to posthumously award the freedom of the city to cricketing legend and personal hero, Basil D’Oliveira.

At the Guildhall on Tuesday (May 14), Cllr Riaz said he chose his ‘love not hate’ theme because he needed a way to bring all of the city’s communities together in the wake of the EU referendum result and an increase in hate crime across the city.

He led counter-protestors at an EDL march in the city last September brandishing a placard carrying his message.

He also said the thousands that attended a vigil for University of Worcester student Tom Jones and the thousands that queued to sign up to a blood stem cell register for five-year-old Oscar Saxelby-Lee showed his message was starting to get through.

He added: “Being a relative young whipper-snapper to the office of mayor brought its own expectations and pressures having not only to respect and uphold the position and the traditions of the office but bring a fresh approach and appeal to a wider audience.”

Cllr Riaz said he had been “truly humbled” by the comments he had “dusted the cobwebs off the mayoralty” and brought the role into the modern world.

Cllr Lynn Denham said Cllr Riaz would be a hard act to follow. She said: “Jabba is a true man of Worcester. You have done the city proud, you have done your family proud and you have done your community proud.”

Cllr Marc Bayliss, leader of the council, congratulated Cllr Riaz on his year as mayor and a "job well done."