Tributes have been paid to a former councillor and community servant who made history by becoming Hyndburn’s first ever Asian mayor.
Mirza Mohammed Yousaf, of Accrington, died on Saturday, June 16 at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, aged 81. A large turnout attended Sunday’s funeral service at the Raza Jamia Masjid mosque, with the burial at Pleasington Cemetery.
Hyndburn council leader Miles Parkinson described Mr Yousaf as ‘a gentleman’, who overcame traditional barriers faced by minority groups.
He said: “He was the first Asian mayor of Hyndburn, and ‘broke the glass ceiling’. It was a major achievement. It was all about showing to everyone that we can be one community. He will be dearly missed.”
Councillor Munsif Dad said Mr Yousaf, who was on the council from 1990 to 1999 and was Mayor of Hyndburn in 1996/7, had been ill for a while and died in hospital.
He said: “He had an operation and there were some complications.
“He was very well known within the community and well respected. He served on the mosque management committee for a number of years. When he was going on to become mayor he consulted the community and wanted to make sure it wasn’t his morality he was serving, but the community morality.
“That’s the sort of person he was and the sort of legacy he has left.
“He was loved by many people, and left many friends. We are sad to lose him and we support the family.”
A former JP and a postmaster in Avenue Parade, Accrington, the former Peel ward Labour councillor ran a community advice centre before being elected, which provided support and advice for people who did not have English as a first language.
Coun Dad - himself a former Mayor and magistrate - said Mr Yousaf was an inspiration to himself and many others.
He added: “He also stood as a Lancashire county councillor. On many occasions he was at my father’s home to encourage people to support him.”
Family friend Mohammed Nasir said: “He was a very humble person, very loving and helped everybody.”
Coun Noordad Aziz posted on Facebook that he was a ‘great man’, who served the whole Hyndburn community with ‘dignity and grace’.
Mr Yousaf leaves family including two sons and a daughter.