The Mayor of High Wycombe followed in the footsteps of two of Britain’s greatest Prime Ministers and delivered a speech by the iconic Red Lion statue in High Wycombe’s market square this morning.

Cllr Khalil Ahmed clambered onto the first floor ledge in his mayoral robes, echoing Benjamin Diraeli in 1832 and the scenes over a hundred years later when Winston Churchill addressed a packed crowd after the conclusion of World War II.

The mayor praised the importance of the town’s historic market, after doing the rounds to speak to traders in the annual mayoral custom, which acknowledges the traders' role in electing the first ever High Wycombe mayor.

He told the BFP afterwards: "It’s about raising the profile of the market and hopefully increasing its footfall.

"Wycombe is built on this market and it would not be the town if it wasn’t for the market.

"So I wanted to tell people a little about the history and why it’s so important to Wycombe.

"It was always the source of prosperity in Wycombe, and it’s apparent we need to do more to support it."

The Muslim mayor also used his address to underline the need for community cohesion, tolerance and respect among residents of different backgrounds, communities and religions.

He admitted to the BFP he wanted to stress this commitment after some criticism of his comments in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier this year.

While crowds did not match the scenes in 1945, when thousands lined the street and shuffled up lampposts for a view of the wartime leader, shoppers and traders stopped to hear the mayor’s message.

He gave a summary of the market’s history and Wycombe’s importance as waypoint almost exactly a day’s ride on a horse from Oxford and London.

And he said market trading in the town – which dates back over 700 years to medieval times – is largely responsible for making Wycombe a thriving place.

Cllr Ahmed’s speech was well received by stallholders, who spoke at length with the mayor before he made his ascent.

Steve Green - who has been trading fruit and veg for 18 years – said: "I knew Winston Churchill had made a speech here but didn’t know much else about it.

"It was a good speech, it makes a change to see someone speaking some sense.

"We need to keep the market, it’s important and it’s been through some bad times.It can be tough, you should try being here in a cold December.

"I think he was right. In these times we need to stick together."

In 1832, Benjamin Disraeli was the first man to deliver a speech by the statue outside the Red Lion Hotel – now home to Iceland and Poundworld.

It was the first public speech from the young statesman, who went on to lead the country during Queen Victoria’s reign.

Then in 1945, Sir Winston Churchill became the second person to scale the heights outside the hotel, with thousands of people lining the streets to see and hear his post-war address.