A NEW chapter in history was made at Worcester Cathedral when a Muslim church leader addressed the congregation during the annual civic service for the city's new Mayor.

Worcester Imam, Hafiz Mohammed Tufaiz, gave a reading from The Koran in Arabic as part of a ceremony marking the beginning of the year in office for the Mayor of Worcester, Coun Allah Ditta.

Coun Ditta, the first ever Asian to hold the role in its 777-year history, walked as part of a procession from The Guildhall to the Cathedral for the service yesterday morning.

The Very Rev Peter Marshall, Dean of Worcester, welcomed Hafiz and said the service was a way of "asking for God's blessing on our civil life".

Coun Ditta's daughter and consort, Parveen Akhtar, read a passage of a essay written by an American theologist which told of the important role residents must play in a community.

"Human warmth is the true criterion of a successful community and it grows out of the people's solidarity and their joy in one another," she read.

"Anyone who pretends that the professionals can organise neighbourhood or community life on behalf of the people is either a fool or an interested fool."

After the service, Coun Ditta said he had enjoyed the "historical" morning. "I'm absolutely delighted with how it went. It was a good service and even the weather held when the procession came out," he said.

"It goes without saying it will be a good experience to hold onto and become a treasured memory."

Among the congregation was the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, Ray Seale, the High Sheriff of Herefordshire and Worcestershire, Georgina Britten-Long, the Chairman of Worcestershire County Council, Coun Derek Prodger, and the Rt Rev William Godfrey, the Bishop of Peru, Worcester's link diocese.