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BRIDGWATER in Somerset became the first town or city in the whole of the UK to have a Portuguese mayor as Cllr Diogo Rodrigues took over the role from Cllr Graham Granter.

At just 28 years old, Diogo is also Bridgwater’s youngest ever mayor as well as the town’s first openly gay mayor too. Diogo was born in Madeira, and moved to the UK when he was just one year old.

TV crews even came over from Portugal to film the event which took place at the Town Hall yesterday evening (Friday, May 12).

Cllr Mick Lerry nominated the role, and explained how impressed he had been with Diogo’s work since joining the council.

“It gives me great honour to propose Diogo Rodrigues as the new mayor of Bridgwater,” Cllr Lerry said.

“Since being elected Diogo has been instrumental in the town council’s recent focus on youth and its youth grants.

“I know this first hand having spoken to the manager of the Victoria Park Community Centre – the youth grants there have helped set up youth clubs including one for disabled children, one for those who act as carers to parents or siblings and another for ethnic minority groups.”

Growing up his family ran a restaurant in Essex and now he has followed in their footsteps with his partner Nathan, managing a Portuguese restaurant in Taunton.

Cllr Rodrigues said: “Thank to my fellow councillors for nominating me for this important role.

“Over the coming year we will look to celebrate Bridgwater’s cultural diversity, and I also hope we can continue to support our young people so that they can make progress in their lives.”

Diogo’s consort for the year will be his partner Nathan, who he is getting married to in next year and described as his ‘partner in life and partner in crime!’.

Representing the Portuguese ambassador, Joao Paolo Britos said it was a wonderful occasion.

“It is particularly important at this juncture when there are forces trying to drive Europeans apart. It is genuinely history in the making,” Mr Britos said.

“Often when Portuguese people move to a new country, they tend to keep themselves to themselves but it is fantastic to see someone getting involved in politics and the local community,” he added.

This year the deputy mayor will be Cllr Tony Heywood, who Cllr Liz Leavy praised for his fantastic work as leader of the town council’s transport forum and his involvement in the Bridgwater Cultural Partnership.

Handing over the mayoral chains, Cllr Graham Granter said it had been an honour and a privilege to be the Bridgwater mayor for a third time.

“When you are handed the mayoral chains it is something really special,” Cllr Granter said.

“We have attended around 170 events and functions this year, and I could not have done it without my mayoress Kay.

“The role is a partnership and I would be lost without her.”

Cllr Granter thanked the town clerk Alan Hurford and his assistant Judi for all their hard work over the previous year, as well as all of the town’s dedicated volunteers who keep the various clubs, organisations and societies in Bridgwater running. Taken from Bridgwater Mercury