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Tribute to late councillor who led the way

Published Tuesday, 26 November 2019

A tree and plaque have been unveiled in memory of the city’s first Asian councillor.

Pictured: left to right, Dev Patel (son in law), Lord Mayor Cllr Linda Bigham, Sheila Malhotra (wife), Nyla Patel (granddaughter), Ash Malhotra (son), Natasha Malhotra Patel (daughter), Rhea Patel (granddaughter).
Pictured: left to right, Dev Patel (son in law), Lord Mayor Cllr Linda Bigham, Sheila Malhotra (wife), Nyla Patel (granddaughter), Ash Malhotra (son), Natasha Malhotra Patel (daughter), Rhea Patel (granddaughter).

Family members and community leaders joined Lord Mayor Cllr Linda Bigham at the ceremony to honour the late Cllr Raj Malhotra.

He was elected as a councillor in the Lower Stoke Ward in 1987 and he went on to represent the people of that area until 1992.

He tragically died in an accident at his home five years ago.

Mr Malhotra had lived an extraordinary life.

As young men in 1974, he and a friend set off from their home in India on a pair of old pushbikes with barely anything to their name.

They cycled around the world, covering around 7,500 miles and visiting countries such as Turkey, Hungary, Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and England.

But he said of all the places he visited, Coventry stole his heart and it was the place he decided to call home. He worked as an electrical engineer at JS Chinn Ltd in Exhall until his retirement in 2001.

The memorial tree was planted on Saturday on Binley Road.

Lord Mayor Cllr Linda Bigham, said: “Raj Malhotra was not born and bred here, but he was a true Coventrian and he deeply loved his adopted city. He helped to shape our wonderful multicultural home and he stood for so many values we hold dear.

“He served the people of Lower Stoke brilliantly and was well loved and respected by his constituents and his fellow councillors. His popularity crossed all races, faiths, backgrounds – and even political divides!

“Today we plant a tree in his name and I am delighted that there will be this physical tribute to Raj – but actually, his real tribute is everywhere around our city and clear for all to see.

“He may have served as a councillor over 25 years ago, but he changed our Council and made it a better one for residents. He made a difference to our city and we are so honoured he chose to call it home.”

The memorial was supported through financial help from groups including the Indian Workers’ Association, Mercia Lions Club and the Sikh Union.

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