BURY'S new deputy mayor, hailed the 'Iron Lady' of Redvales, has become the first woman from her background to take such a role in the city-region.

Cllr Shaheena Haroon is the first Asian woman in a mayoral role across Greater Manchester.

The Labour councillor, who fled from Pakistan and made Bury her home in 1998, was appointed deputy mayor at a civic ceremony last week.

She said: "My whole life aim is helping and supporting people. It’s a great honour for me and I’m really delighted."

Her fellow Redvales councillor, Tamoor Tariq, nominated her for the role.

He said: "There are many of us who come in to public life to make a difference, to help our community and to support the most vulnerable in our area. But there are very few who are able to break the glass ceiling. Her presence in this chamber, let’s face it, was very unlikely.

“To me this represents a symbol of how Cllr Haroon has always defied the stereotype that many would have associated with women from the South Asian community.”

Cllr Tariq told the crowded council chamber about how his colleague made Bury her home more than twenty years ago.

She came to the UK, accompanied by the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, as one of many supporters who fled to the UK during a period of political unrest.

Before coming to the UK, she played a leading role in visiting female prisoners, secured funding for sewing machines for women who were unable to work and started a fund for vulnerable families.

Since coming to Bury, she has been recognised for her role in developing the Bury Women Asian Centre which supports marginalised women from all backgrounds through issues such as domestic abuse, violence and homelessness.

Cllr Tariq said she has experienced hardships in both Pakistan and the UK where she has faced threats because of her support for domestic violence victims.

He said: "I’ve witnessed her first hand standing up to bullies and thugs. She has stood up for her principles and showed sheer grit and determination. And I have always been in awe of her confidence and stamina."

Cllr Haroon was crowned Bury Woman of the Year in 2010 having been nominated by the borough's new mayor, Cllr Trevor Holt.