History has been made as the first Black Mayor of Reading has been sworn into office.

Councillor Glenn Dennis (Labour, Kentwood) has been made mayor of the town at Reading Borough Council’s annual general meeting yesterday (Wednesday, May 22).

Cllr Dennis was nominated by his colleague cllr Mark Keeping (Labour, Kentwood) seconded by cllr Ellie Emberson (Labour, Coley).

Nominating his friend, cllr Keeping said: “He is a dedicated councillor. After meeting, I thought what a nice guy.”

Reading Chronicle: Councillor Mark Keeping (Labour, Kentwood) speaks at the Reading Borough Council annual general meeting 2024.Councillor Mark Keeping (Labour, Kentwood) speaks at the Reading Borough Council annual general meeting 2024. (Image: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting Service)

Cllr Keeping joined the Labour Party after Brexit, reflecting that Cllr Dennis was welcoming. “He’s served twice now as deputy mayor, it’s only right that he gets an upgrade.”

Cllr Dennis was pipped to be mayor in 2018, but lost an election in Kentwood ward by winner cllr Raj Singh by just six votes.

Cllr Dennis went on to be a parish councillor in Tilehurst. He returned to the council after the all out elections in 2022, getting the highest vote share in Kentwood.

Cllr Keeping said: “He is both engaged and engaging as a councillor. That local election was busy for all of us, he was also campaigning in Norcot for his wife.

Sadly, his wife Colette died shortly after he became deputy mayor. Cllr Keeping added: “We still feel her loss.”

He then reflected that cllr Dennis was stoic in mourning, and took part in the by-election campaign for cllr Finn McGoldrick (Labour, Norcot).

 Meanwhile, cllr Emberson said: “Tonight really is historic with Glenn becoming mayor.” She calls him a ‘comrade’. “Glenn is never bland. He’s everywhere Glenn, year in, year out. It’s always such a joy to see him.

“I’ve always been struck by his dapper aesthetic. He’s in second place, only losing out to Cllr Paul Woodward (Labour, Church).

“Campaigning is inherently stressful, yet Glenn was always smiling. We’d blast tunes, grab a meal deal. He was always calm, collected and focused.”

Cllr Dennis was sworn in during an interval, where a music couple Julia and Luke played ‘you can get it if you really want’ and Jeffrey Hinds sang a special song called ‘the Mayor’s calypso’.

In his first speech as Mayor, cllr Dennis said: “Thank you from the bottom of my heart, ready to embark on this journey with unwavering enthusiasm. As I embark on this journey, I cannot help but think about my wife Colette, who is looking down on us.

“I have lived in Reading since 2010 and this town truly is my home.”

He praises its diversity, announcing Reading Community Learning Centre as one of his Mayor’s charities, with the second being Reading Prostate Cancer Support Group.

Cllr Dennis said: “As the first ever black mayor of this borough I stand here with immense pride.”

He added that he will represent all of Reading’s residents as mayor.