A new Reading mayor was appointed last night at a ceremony at Reading Town Hall.

Councillor Rachel Eden was confirmed as the new mayor of Reading, with councillor Ayo Sokale taking the deputy mayor role.

Departing mayor councillor David Stevens handed over the mayoral chain and mace to Cllr Eden in last night’s mayor making ceremony.

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The ceremony featured live music from councillor Steven’s own daughter and speeches celebrating the four Reading organisations which won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service this year.

Cllr Eden will now serve as mayor for a period of 18 months, until May 2023.

She has chosen five themes to focus on during her mayoralty, which are:

  • Sustainability and the drive to net zero
  • The best start in life for our young people
  • Improving the end of life for all
  • Getting through – and recovering from – the Covid pandemic together
  • Equality and Diversity

Her charities will reflect those chosen themes. They are:

  • Parenting Special Children (supporting families who have children with special needs)
  • The Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Equality (bringing diverse communities together)
  • The Sue Ryder, Duchess of Kent Hospice (supporting people coming to end of life, with specialist medical care alongside with other emotional, practical and spiritual support)

Cllr Eden has been a serving Whitley ward member since 2010 and has previously been a lead councillor for Housing & Neighbourhoods and Adult Social Care.

She is the founder of an accountancy firm that works with a range of small local businesses and charities.

Reading Chronicle: PICTURED: Outgoing mayor David Stevens welcomes new mayor Rachel Eden. Photo by Paul King.PICTURED: Outgoing mayor David Stevens welcomes new mayor Rachel Eden. Photo by Paul King.

Cllr Eden said: “Being Mayor of Reading is a huge privilege and honour.  We are a truly great town and I hope to uphold the best traditions of the Reading mayoralty in bringing our community together, whether in difficult times or when we have things to celebrate.

“Every mayor has their own style and I hope to focus on encouraging a sustainable Reading with our push to net zero carbon, encouraging the best start in life for our young people and promoting better support for people at end of life, as well as of course celebrating our town’s amazing diversity and pushing for equality for all as we get through the pandemic.”

New deputy mayor councillor Sokale will serve in the role until May 2022.

She has served as a Caversham ward councillor since 2019 and is a chartered civil engineer and project manager at the Environment Agency, as well as a TV presenter, presenting science for BBC Bitesize.

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She also co-founded and runs Plastic Free Caversham and was nominated as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering under 35 in June 2017.

Cllr Sokale becomes one of the youngest deputy mayors in the history of the borough and the youngest in recent years.

She said: “I am honoured to represent Reading as deputy mayor, a place I have made my home since graduating from university.

“I am excited to embark on this journey and supporting the mayor and her agenda.

“These are worthy causes that I am thoroughly honoured to support in this role.

“I am pleased to be a positive role model for the brilliant town that is Reading, a place we all love.”