“Be yourself, don’t try to be anyone else. And make a connect with everyone, speak to as many people as you can.”

That’s the advice the outgoing mayor of Swindon Junab Ali to his successor who is very likely to be the current deputy mayor Kevin Parry, to be elected at the first full council meeting of the new municipal year tomorrow.

Mr Ali said: “As mayor you get invited to a lot of big events and you’re always on the top table, along with the High Sheriff and the Lord Lieutenant if they’re there. And that’s great, but at every event, after the speeches were over I’d always make a point of visiting every other table, speaking to everyone, shaking every hand, mingling. I’m there to represent all the citizens of Swindon, all 230,000 and growing of us.

“This job is about meeting everyone, connecting with everyone and representing everyone, not just hobnobbing with those on the top table.

“The response you get, the gratitude and, yes, the love that you get back is just incredible. It’s been absolutely the highlight of my year the way ordinary people have treated me when I’ve met them and spoken to them has been amazing.”

When he hands over his chains of office and settles back on the council chamber benches as an ordinary councillor, the mayor says he won’t be hankering after a longer term: “A year’s enough. I was asked a few years ago and said no because it wasn’t the right time for me or my family.

“I’ve been one of the younger mayors and I’m glad because it’s a lot of work, but I’ve given it 110 per cent. I’ve put everything into it, as well as running my business. I didn’t want to do it unless I could do that.

“The most amazing thing has been seeing all the volunteers that give their time to organisations of whatever size all through every section of our our community.

“I thought I knew Swindon well, but I’ve seen so much more of what goes on here, and it is really amazing.

“I think our town and our country couldn’t run without all these people volunteering to help others.”