ONE of the town's most influential community figures committed to uniting faith groups and showcasing cultural diversity has reflected on his time in Warrington.

Hasan Kazi, 80, moved to the town in 1993 after living in Zambia and Dubai.

He was one of the founders of Warrington Council of Faiths in June 1999, as well as Warrington Ethnic Communities Association (WECA) in January 2004.

The Woolston resident has been instrumental in bringing a range of community events to the forefront of the borough, including Warrington Mela, and Stockton Heath Arts Festival, which he initiated with the late Tudor Pole.

Now the chairman of WECA, Mr Kazi admits there was a lot of apprehension from people when the organisation was launched almost 18 years ago.

The dad-of-three said: "WECA was initiated by the Government, which wanted to create an umbrella group that worked in between the borough council and the community.

"We have come a long way. The Government and other agencies are very co-operative as they know what results have been achieved through our efforts.

"On the WECA committee, of the founder members, I am the only one left on the committee now.

"I remember we started with 18 members but by the end of the year only a few people were left.

"People said it was a futile exercise and that it was not going to work but it has, in fact, brought so much improvement and acceptance to communities.

"Through WECA, we also brought the Mela to the town – that has really brought people together.

"It started with a local initiation but now it has gone to a national stage, people from all over the country come and exhibit their stalls here.

"The town is a very big family, my association to it is right to the roots.

"It has not been easy but we have achieved plenty in the borough and people have really understood togetherness."

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He also hailed the Council of Faiths for 'bringing communities together' and gave special praise to the the Rev Stephen Kingsnorth, who retired last year.

Mr Kazi added: "We wanted to bring faiths together – it was a massive exercise.

"A lot of people were reluctant to come on board but thanks to Stephen, who was very influential, we managed to bring communities together.

"Most people were suspicious and not ready to take on the idea and thought it would not work out but it did, thanks to hard work and concentrated efforts.

"My intention has been to serve the whole family of Warrington – not only faith-based or ethnic-based – but the entire community in the town.

"Me and Stephen had the same vision and ideas to make the town a very peaceful living community.

"I wanted it to happen as I knew what results we could achieve."

Also a school governor, member of the Lions Club and committee member of Warrington and District Arts Council, Mr Kazi has never been one to shy away from a challenge.

As part of his work with the Lions Club, he helped to establish a blind school for 50 children in Africa, while also highlighting mental health in the continent.

Following his remarkable community achievements in the borough, Mr Kazi is hoping to hand over the baton.

He added: "There is a lot of encouragement and hope for the future.

"I want to consolidate the results that we have achieved and make sure that continues.

"I am looking for the type of people who have community in their heart, like Mo Hussain, general secretary of WECA, who is doing great work."