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    A PACKED funeral service was held for a former Labour councillor described as a “true ambassador of Harrow” yesterday.

    Packed funeral service for Harrow's first Asian mayor

    Packed funeral service for Harrow’s first Asian mayor

    Former Queensbury ward councillor Keeki Thammaiah, 76, passed away following a heart attack on his sofa while his wife Naila made dinner in their kitchen last Monday evening.

    The former Wembley High School teacher was elected as a councillor in 1992 and served the borough up until the elections last year, when he stepped down.

    He was appointed mayor in 2000 and during his time on the council also sat on licensing and planning committees.

    He was born in Coorg, in South India, and came to Britain in 1964, teaching maths at Wembley High in the Seventies before moving on to City of Westminster College in 1985.

    London Assembly member Navin Shah spoke at the service referring to Mr Thammaiah as an “elder brother.”

    He said: “He was a laid-back, quiet person with a smile and a glint in his eyes. For Keeki there were no long speeches, no aggression, no controversy, wherever Keeki went as the mayor he gave measured and short speeches in his own inimitable style.

    “He was respected and loved and naturally carried himself as a true ambassador of Harrow.

    “Keeki’s achievements and his contribution to the community are a matter of pride and celebration.”

    Former Harrow mayor Alderman Keith Toms knew Mr Thammaiah for 20 years.

    He said: “He was so honest and related so well to the public. Harrow became a better place because of him but he did things quietly.

    “Keeki stood out simply for all the things he did to improve the area but he never did it loudly.

    “He was very laid-back, unruffled and so dependable.

    “He achieved everything through quietly working within the community and laying the foundations for a better area.”

    Mr Thammaiah is survived by wife Naila, son Ponnu, granddaughter Sonali and grandsons Adit and Alok.

    Son Ponnu, 38, was one of the pallbearers carrying his father’s coffin yesterday.

    He said: “I was so touched by everybody. The visitors and messages have been non-stop.

    “I was living at home when he was mayor and we are so proud of him and the work that he did.

    “There was a great turnout for the funeral so thank you to everyone who came and who has supported us at this time.

    source: http://www.harrowtimes.co.uk / by Suruchi Sharma / Tuesday Apr 05th, 2011

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    Keeki Thammaiah obituary

    Keeki Thammaiah 

    The trappings of office were relished by Keeki Thammaiah as they echoed his native Karnataka ceremonial attire

    My friend the lawyer, educationist and local politician Keeki Thammaiah, who has died of a heart attack aged 76, became the first Asian mayor of Harrow, north-west London, in 2000.

    He came to politics relatively late when elected as a Labour councillor in 1994. As mayor, he demonstrated his skill in working with people across the divide of politics, race and class. He relished the ceremonials – the robes and chains – not only because of his innate respect for the office but also because he felt comfortable with these trappings. Their lavishness echoed the ceremonial attire of his native Coorg in Karnataka, south India, particularly that of the traditional kupya chaleworn by Coorg men – long black tunics with red and gold brocaded cummerbunds from which intricately worked swords in gold and silver were slung.

    Keeki came from an affluent landowning family, and after qualifying as a lawyer served as an advocate in the courts of justice in Bangalore. He arrived in Britain in 1964, drawn by the vibrancy of its contemporary culture (listening to the Beatles for the first time was clearly a defining experience), as well as its legal traditions. He taught business law at institutions including Westminster College for a number of years.

    Keeki and Naila, his wife of 40 years, kept an open house, and visiting Indians – dignitaries, students and tourists – enjoyed the warmth of their hospitality. A champion of Karnataka culture, with its rich tradition of Kannada literature and performing arts, Keeki supported initiatives that helped younger generations living in Britain to engage with this culture. On the day before his death, he and Naila had hosted a reception to launch an initiative to promote Karnataka and its artistic heritage.

    He is survived by Naila, his son, Ponnu, and two grandchildren, Adit and Alok.

    source: http://www.guardian.co.uk / by Nima Poovaya-Smith / The Guardian / Thursday, May 19th, 2011

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