A WELL-known Keighley figure has spoken of his desire to boost pride in the town and bring communities together.

Javed Bashir has outlined his hopes after being appointed cultural heritage and diversity lead with arts charity Keighley Creative.

The father-of-four said he wanted people to be proud of the town – and that the arts were an ideal way of achieving that.

"This is a good opportunity to bring different communities on board and work together – that’s what we need in Keighley," said Mr Bashir.

"My father’s generation only knew two professions – become a doctor or a lawyer – but nowadays we need to give people alternative options. Art is a wonderful opportunity. It’s not just painting, it’s about being creative. A lot of people have talent and we need to nurture that.

"Keighley Creative is a platform with which to promote talent. My job is to ensure new people can access this opportunity. It’s also about helping people understand the importance of art.

"I want Keighley to become a national platform that we can be proud of, where we have helped young people develop their skills.

"Keighley was a fabulous place and I’m sure it still is – but we need to get communities working together, appreciating and understanding each other’s cultures.

"I’m working with some local institutions, developing a video of young people from the community. The title will be I Love Keighley."

Mr Bashir – who recently received a doctorate from the University of Bradford for his services in the community – has worked across the country and overseas, but said he was keen to "put something back into Keighley".

He added that the make-up of the town had changed considerably over the past 30 years.

He said: "Previously I was only working with the English and Asian communities, and was aware of the established Italian and Ukrainian communities, but there has been a new influx of people from different parts of the world. So we need to be inclusive, ensuring everyone gets the opportunity to be part and parcel of this."

His appointment is welcomed by the charity’s creative director, Gemma Hobbs.

She said: "It’s fantastic to welcome Javed to the Keighley Creative team.

"The knowledge, energy and understanding he has gained over many years of community work are infectious and he is already planning some exciting and ambitious new events alongside our team."