Michael Barrett | Mohammed KhanJames H. Hirst | Sheila Williams | Sarah Buckley (Blackburn's first lady Mayor) | Margaret McNamee | Zamir Khan | Salim Mulla
Alan Cottam | Faryad Hussain | Hussain Akhtar | Colin Rigby | Councillor Mrs Pat McFall | Jim Shorrock


Sarah Buckley (Blackburn's first lady Mayor)

Mrs Buckley Mayor023 image and headlines.jpgSarah Buckley was born on the 6th April 1884 to William Henry Hall and Betty (née Townend); the family also included another daughter, Elizabeth, and two sons, William and James. In 1891 they lived at 30, Milnrow Rd., Crompton and, in 1895, her father was the proprietor of the Coach & Horses Hotel, 1, Market St Crompton. On the 25th September 1907, aged twenty three, Sarah Hall married James Edward Buckley, aged 31. James was a mule spinner overlooker and they set up home at 2, Scar Lane off George St. Shaw, near Oldham. A son William was born in 1911. Very shortly after, in 1912, James took a job in Russia and their second son Herbert was born in Moscow during 1913. They remained in Russia for ten years and must have experienced troubled times during that period - the First World War and the Russian Revolution.

Returning home in 1922, James took the job of spinning master at Coddington's mill in Blackburn. At this point, Sarah began to show an interest in politics and became a teacher of the Conservative's Speakers class; she was Lady President of St. Luke's Ward from 1923 to 1933. In 1930, James took up the position as manager of an Anglo-French mill called Rodier in Pondicherry, India and Sarah followed three years later. She started a nursery there and as she was always interested in the welfare of women and children, she introduced a scheme whereby mothers received their wages for a period before and after the birth of their child. Whilst in India, Sarah kept up her position of teacher of the Conservative Speaker's Club, writing lectures and sending them home.

The family returned home in 1935 and lived on Ramsey Rd. Longshaw, Blackburn where Sarah resumed her great interest in local politics. She stood as a councillor and, at her second attempt, in 1937, she was elected for Park Ward. As a councillor she was able to help women and children by becoming Chairman of the Maternity and Clinical Welfare Committee and Vice-chairman of the Health Committee.

At that time she was also Chairman of the Women's Conservative Association, a member of the Central Council of the National Conservative Association and a Borough Magistrate from 1941. Sarah was also a voluntary speaker for the Ministry of Information. This very busy lady was a member of the congregation of Christ Church and the Enrolment Officer for the Women's Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS), eventually becoming the organiser in 1950.

James Edward died in 1943 aged sixty seven; Sarah's son Herbert lived locally, in Accrington, and William lived in Luton.

Sarah was selected as Mayor in 1946/7 and became Blackburn's first lady Mayor. She created a record by becoming Blackburn's Mayor, deputy Mayor and Mayoress consecutively.

As a councillor there are many committees to serve on, and again, Sarah's interest in women and children came to the fore. She was a member of the Joint Hospital Advisory Committee, President of the Blackburn College of Midwives and Chairman of the local Maternity and Children's Welfare Committee. She was also a member of the Housing Committee and elective member of the Blind Person's Act Committee.

On the 31st May 1956 Sarah was awarded the M.B.E. which was justly deserved for all her work for the people of Blackburn.

Sarah must have spent most of her time on one committee or another and even found time to be a patron of the Old Contemptable's Association and Vice Chairman of the Disabled Service Men's Association. For herself, perhaps, she was President of the Women's Conservative and Unionist Association and President of the East Lancashire Luncheon Club.

In 1961, aged seventy six, she was killed crossing Bolton Rd. – the tragic end of a life devoted to the service of others.

​Article compiled and written by Janet Burke, Community History Volunteer. May 2018.

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Margaret McNamee

1963_02_pr40_mcna003 ct new.jpgAlderman and Mayor

This story begins a year after the turn of the century in 1901 when Margaret was born, the eldest of six, at her maternal grand-parent’s home in Lower Darwen. She was nearly as old as the new Labour Party which had been formed in 1900 and to which she was drawn from an early age. Her family were poor and her father was unemployed - he worked for half a crown cleaning out the flues at a print works in Clayton-le-Moors.
Margaret was a half-timer in the mill at the age of twelve, working from 6.00am till 12.30 and then off to school in the afternoon, the times being reversed the following week. She had to sweep up around four looms and, at fourteen, became a weaver at Canterbury St. Mill with her own four looms. Margaret’s father complained as she ought to have been eighteen years old for this work but the manager said she was a good weaver and, after all, they did need the money; Margaret hated weaving. In 1915, there were 144 mills in Blackburn with 36,000 workers operating 90,000 looms. The workers were mainly women and wages were low which led to poor housing and consequent living conditions. The only escape was the quality of activities outside the workplace although another way out was marriage. Joseph McNamee and Margaret were both eighteen when they married – Joe’s father also could not get work but this was mainly because of his views and his fight for better pay and conditions. Margaret’s desire to help those in poor housing, to improve the difficult conditions in the workplace, particularly for women, and the inequality of pay, stemmed from her own experiences at this time. The men who did come home from the war had further battles to fight with the unemployment and resulting poverty. At nineteen, Margaret was a member of the Independent Labour Party, secretary of the women’s section and elected to the Regional Executive.

Joe McNamee died in 1932 leaving Margaret with three sons and two daughters. They were living in Dukes Brow at the time and Margaret had to take in boarders in order to provide for her family; this she managed well.  In 1943 she was co-opted onto the town council as a representative for St. Peter’s Ward. After reorganisation, St. Peter’s Ward disappeared and Margaret switched to represent St. Paul’s which she continued to serve throughout her political career. In 1945, she was responsible for introducing Barbara Betts, (better known as Barbara Castle), to the Labour Selection Committee. Barbara Castle won the seat and remained the Member of Parliament for Blackburn for many years.

Margaret continued to fight for child welfare, the elderly and health issues, becoming Chairman of the Welfare Services Committee in 1948. In 1958, Margaret was made an Alderman of the Borough becoming the only woman in the history of Blackburn Borough Council to have held this office and on the 24th May 1962 after twenty one years of tireless work for the aged and underprivileged, she became only the second woman to be elected to the office of Mayor for Blackburn. Her daughter, Mary Winifred McNamee, was chosen to be the Mayoress, (a councillor herself since 1953), creating the first mother and daughter partnership as Mayor and Mayoress.  It was the longest known mayoral procession to St. Annes Roman Catholic Church where the Bishop of Salford presided. Margaret was only the fourth Roman Catholic Mayor to hold this office in Blackburn and later was awarded a Papal Honour in recognition of meritorious civic service and work for the Roman Catholic Church – the Pro Ecclesia and Pontificat given by Pope John and presented by Archbishop Beck. It was most unusual for this honour to be awarded to an ordinary citizen.

Margaret helped to found the West End Youth Club and was appointed to be Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Baby Welfare Council. There was also a lot of work to be done on Blackburn’s new town plan which was to transform the centre of Blackburn. She met many important people such as the Duke of Edinburgh who came to open King George V Playing Fields at Pleasington and Harold Wilson who signed the visitors book at the Town Hall. She commissioned a survey of the number of potholes in the roads of Blackburn which became immortalised by the Beatles hit song “a day in the life”. Barbara Castle brought Margaret to Parliament’s attention for her ability to get food, clothing and fuel in a very short time whilst those in government dragged their feet. In June 1964 she was invited to attend, in Germany, a mounted parade for the Queen’s birthday after she had given a civic send off to the 1st Royal Tank Regiment.

Following a re-shuffle of council posts in 1965, Margaret was most upset to be moved from Health and Welfare to Estates and Housing – so much so that she appealed to the National Executive of the Labour Party. In 1968, after twenty five years on the town council, in spite of losing her leg to cancer, she continued to fight for the aged and underprivileged. She became a little disillusioned with the path the Labour Party was taking and in 1973 stood as a Democratic Labour candidate.

On the 23rd of February 1991, Margaret celebrated her ninetieth birthday and, true to form, asked for donations to be given to The Rainbow Family Trust. This was an organisation working to provide a hospice for children in the North West. Margaret died on the 9th of January 1993 at the age of ninety two; she had lived her life well, serving the people of Blackburn - in particular the aged, the young and those in need.

Article compiled by Janet Burke, November 2018.

Photograph copyright: Wally & Howard Talbot.

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Councillor Michael Barrett




Co​​uncillor Mohammed Khan O.B.E

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Councillor Mohammed Khan was born and raised in Pakistan before coming to Blackburn in June 1965. He is married to Naziran and has five children and twelve Grandchildren.
He worked and studied Textiles at Blackburn College and was subsequently employed in the textile industry in the USA, where he also gained qualifications in Business Management. On returning to Blackburn he resumed work in the textile industry before opening his own general food store in 1985.

Councillor Khan has been an elected member, first of Blackburn Borough 1992-1998 and then Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council  1997 and has represented the Bank Top Ward, which is now Wensley Fold Ward. In addition to serving as Chair/Vice Chair on numerous Committees he had the position of Executive Member for Housing and Neighbourhood Services between 1999 and 2007, and was Deputy Leader of the Council from 2002 until 2007, and again in 2010 until he took over as leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council when Kate Hollern stood down in order to become the Labour MP for Blackburn in 2015, replacing Jack Straw.

Over the years, Councillor Khan has held a wide ranging number of posts in the Voluntary Sector and has been actively involved as a School Governor. He has represented the Authority on sub Regional, Regional and National Level Forums, Task Groups and Boards. In recognition of his work in Local Government, Councillor Khan was awarded an O.B.E. in the Queen's New Years Honours for 2007.

In his spare time Councillor Khan likes walking, reading and spending time with his grandchildren.

Councillor Khan was Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen between 2008 and 2009. His wife Naziran was the Mayoress.

Councillor James H. Hirst 

James Hunt Hirst was born at Darwen in 1928. During the 2nd World War he served in the Royal Corps of Singles. After demobilisation he took up a career in the printing industry in Wales and Hull. On returning to Darwen he acquired his own printing company, is final job was as managing director of Wardley's Printers Ltd. He met his wife Audrey during her career as a professional musician and concert singer. They were married in 1956 at St. Andrew's, Longton.  

The couple had two children Stuart and Ian and three grandchildren. After 56 years of marriage Audrey died in July 2013.

James was elected to the Council in 1994, representing Billinge Ward, and when the Council gained unitary status he represented Beardwood and Lammack.
Before it became a Unitary Authority James was a spokesman for the Economic Development on the Borough Council, he also represented the Borough on the national Regeneration Committee of the Local Government Association.

He was a Director of the Blackburn and District Enterprise Trust and represented the Council on the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association for the North West of England and the Isle of Man. He also served on the management of the Darwen Old People's Welfare Committee and was vice Chairman of the Authority's Standards Committee.
James Hirst was Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen between 2009 and 2010 with Mrs Maureen Pickup as the Mayoress.
James Hunt Hirst died on the 27th of November 2015 at Springhill Care Home, Accrington and was interred at St. Paul's Churchyard, Hoddlesden.
The Sheila  was born in Blackburn and educated at local schools.  Her Further Education was at Derby and Homerton College, Cambridge.  She taught at St. Hilda’s and Blakey Moor Boys then the High School for Girls, teaching Physical Education and Human Biology.
Town Team Girls Manager, cross-country and athletics, she was a representative on Lancashire Schools Athletic Association. Some years after the High School became Witton Park she taught Religious Education and English and also taught English as a second language.  After early retirement she taught in many local Primary schools and also with the Ethnic Minority Achievement Project.
Entering politics 16 years ago she represents Beardwood and Lammack Ward.  She has served as Conservative spokes man for Education, School Organisation, School Improvement, School Performance, School Governors and Standing Advisory Committee for Religious Education and has served on Planning and Leisure and Culture Committees.  She was previously lead member for the Children’s Services and Sustainable Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee.  Sheila was Mayoress of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council in 2001/2002.
Sheila is Governor of Witton Park School.

Her interests are any kind of sport.  She played League Badminton and holds gold and bronze medal for British Indoor Championships in Veteran Athletics.  She holds various national coaching certificates and enjoys travel, speaks some French and Italian and has a real interest in Gardening, theatre and archaeology.

Married to John, they have one daughter Megan who lives and works in London.


​​Councillor Zamir Khan ​
Mayor Official Zamir Khan 2012 13 640 cropped.jpg

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Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council 2012/2013.  

Zamir was born in 1967, in Siakh, Mirpur (Azad Kashmir) near Islamabad, Pakistan and was brought to the UK  in 1968, settling in Blackburn. He attended Audley Primary School, Everton High and undertook further education at Blackburn College where he studied Sociology. He married his wife, Rahat in 1986 and they have seven children. 

Zamir is one of the founder members of the Queens Park and Audley Asian Forum. He qualified as an advisor through Citizens Advice Bureau and is also a qualified Community Interpreter (Level 2). Zamir was elected Councillor for Audley Ward, Blackburn in 2004 and he has served on various Committees e.g. Social Services, Planning and Highways, Licensing, Leisure, Finance, Education, and Audit. He works very closely with local community groups and locals schools within the Ward. He has served as a School Governor at Audley Nursery and Audley Infants and Junior School. Zamir is a Member of Audley and Queens Park Sure Start Board, a CRZ Board Member and has served on various Community Associations. 

Zamir also enjoys playing football, cricket and volley ball and has been a keen supporter of Blackburn Rovers since 1978.

Information from Mayoral Leaflet.

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​​​​Councillor Salim Mulla​
Mayor official Salim Mulla 2013 14 640 cropped.jpg

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Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, 2013/2014.

Salim was first elected to  Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council in 1997 representing Queen's Park Ward. He is married to Sayeeda and they have five children, two boys and three girls. Cllr. Mulla was educated at St. Thomas's Junior School, Shadsworth High School and studied Business and Commerce at Blackburn College. Salim has worked at the heart of the community for the last 30 years. In the early 1970s, he helped to establish the first Muslim & Christian group, building a strong & prosperous relationship between the community. 

He was Chairman of the Sport and Leisure Committee on the Council for a number of years and, for several years, he also chaired the Regeneration and Technical committee on the Council. 

Salim has also served as an independent Advisory Member for the Lancashire Police Authority. He is also joint chair. of the Muslim and Anglican group with the Bishop of Blackburn, which he helped to establish. 
Cllr. Mulla is the current chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques. He has also been involved in the Queens Park & Audley Children’s Centre from the outset and has been chairman for about 5 years. He is a Governor of Audley Junior School and is a very active member of the community, not just in Blackburn, but throughout Lancashire.

Information from Mayoral Leaflet.

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 ​​Councillor Alan Cottam​
Mayor official Alan Cottam 2014 15 640 cropped.jpg

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Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, 2014-2015.
Councillor Alan Cottam was brought up in Bury and came to live and work in Blackburn as Chief Engineer at the old Sun Paper Mill Feniscowles in 1969. Both his parents originated from this borough, his father from Mill Hill and his mother from Edgworth. He has since lived and worked in Blackburn with his wife Agnes and two daughters who both attended Billinge High School. In his earlier life Cllr.Cottam served in The Royal Military Police in Cyprus during the Eoka crisis, as a personal bodyguard to the Commander in Chief of the Middle East Land Forces and,it was there,that he met and married Agnes, who was also a serving soldier. They have been married 54 years, most of which has been in Blackburn. 

When he left Sun Paper Mill, it was to become Manager of the UK operation of Voith Germany. During his employment with Voith he travelled extensively arou
nd the UK and mainland Europe. After leaving Voith, he became Chief Executive of a Paper and Board Mill in Burnley, all this time whilst living in Blackburn and then Pleasington. 

In re
cent years, Cllr. Cottam has operated his own company, managing his intellectual property in the Water Industry. He has been a Conservative Councillor for Livesey with Pleasington since 1997 and since the Council became Unitary, has spent most of his time on the Council in the Regeneration and Planning disciplines, and also, scrutiny. Cllr.Cottam was Executive Member for Regeneration for the period 2008 – 2010.

Information from Mayoral Leaflet.



Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, 2015- 2016, Labour

Cllr. Faryad Hussain was first elected to Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council in 1999 and has represented Queens Park Ward for over 15 years. He is proud to serve as the Mayor and he would like to thank all the constituents of Queens Park ward for making this possible. 

Faryad is married to Parveen they have 2 sons and 4 daughters and are proud grandparents to 3 grandsons. He works full time at Silicone Engineering Ltd and would like to thank his manager who has allowed him to serve as Mayor. Cllr Hussain has worked at community grass roots level for over 25 years, helping local residents long before he became a Councillor. He has served on numerous committees including Education, Regeneration, Planning & Highways, Licensing and Regeneration and Technical to name a few, his most notable achievement was to serve as the Executive Member for Environmental Services for over 3 years.

Information from Mayoral Leaflet.

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​​​​Councillor Hussain Akhtar
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​Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, 2016/2017, Labour

Councillor Hussain Akhtar was first elected to the Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council  in 1997 and has represented Shear Brow Ward for over 18 years.  He has been an active member of the Labour party since 1970 and was seen as a key member of the late Barbara Castle’s team, and, more recently, that of Jack Straw. He is proud to serve as the  Mayor and would like to thank all the constituents of the Shear Brow  ward and the people of Blackburn with Darwen for making this possible. 

He is married to Tahzeem and they have five sons, one daughter and are the proud grandparents to ten grandchildren. Councillor Akhtar ran a very successful cash and carry business in the heart of  Whalley Range for over 40 years and now manages his property portfolio. 

Councillor Akhtar has worked at community grass roots level for over 30 years, helping  local residents, long before he became a Councillor. He has served on numerous committees including Education, Planning & Highways, Vice Chair of Licensing and as lead member for Leisure and Culture Services working with the then Leader of  the Council, Ms Kate Hollern. He has helped a great deal in community cohesion and building bridges with ethnic minorities.​

Mayoral Charities: East Lancashire Hospice andThe North West Air Ambulance
Information from Mayoral Leaflet

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​​​​Councillor Colin Rigby, O.B.E
Mayor official Colin Rigby 2017 18 640 cropped.jpg​​​

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​Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, 2017/2018, Conservative

Colin was born in Oldham and lived in Colwyn Bay before moving to Bolton. Colin married Jean when he was twenty-ome and they have had two children.   After their marriage, they moved to Harwood and then to their home in Edgworth. Colin worked for eleven years with a Bolton Industrial Door Manufacturing Company in Southern Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Israel, Algeria and Tanzania. He then worked for a Canadian Company in the Ivory Coast (East Africa), building a sugar refinery. From there, he moved to Abu Dhabi running a company in the oilfield area for five years. He then returned home and started his own business which he ran for 30 years. 

Having been a member of the Conservative Association he was selected to stand as a candidate for a Councillor position and was duly elected in 1991. He has served on several Council Committees, and, in 2007, he became Leader of the Council, becoming the first Conservative Leader for some 50 years. Colin has recently served as Shadow Spokesperson on the Resources Portfolio dealing with the general financial state of the Borough. Locally, he is a Trust member responsible for Turton Tower, and, for 4 years was a member of the Barlow Charitable Trust and acted as treasurer during this period. Colin is looking forward to his new role as Mayor. Colin represents the North Turton with Tockholes Ward on the Borough Council. He will be the first Mayor from this Ward; a long overdue achievement. 

Colin was awarded the OBE in 2011 New Year’s Honours List.

Mayoral Charities: East Lancashire Hospice, Bolton Hospice, Eve Appeal, Royal Navy & Royal Marine's Children's Fund

Information from Mayoral Leaflet.

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Councillor Mrs Pat McFall​​​
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​Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, 2018/2019, Labour

Councillor Mrs Pat McFall was first elected to Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council in 2002 and represents Little Harwood & Whitebirk ward where she works tirelessly with local projects. Pat was Chair. of the Children’s Centre for a long time and is non-voting member of the Community Centre Management Board.

Since being elected in 2005, Pat has been a Lead Member for Children’s Services, initially working for Schools and Education, and then for Early Years. More recently her current responsibilities involve overseeing services to Disabled Children within the Borough. She has served on numerous committees including Planning, Licensing and Education.  Pat works hard and with dedication for constituents and the portfolio which she is passionate about.
Pat is Chair. of the Strategic Domestic Abuse Group and works in partnership with other agencies to tackle domestic abuse.

Pat has four children and seven grandchildren plus four great grandchildren.

Pat believes it is an honour to serve as Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and is looking forward to the year ahead.​​

Mayoral Charities: 
Domestic violence services • Blackburn and District Without Abuse (BDDWA)  • Changing Lives. Changing Lives support women, men and children who are affected by domestic violence or domestic abuse in the Borough. • Humraaz Humraaz Support Services provides confidential specialist support to Black and Minority Ethnic women who are experiencing Domestic Abuse and all forms of Harmful Traditional Practices. 
Derian House Children’s Hospice
Cherished Gowns. Cherished Gowns UK provide the families of babies that are stillborn, miscarried or pass away shortly after birth, with items of clothing that they are able to be dressed in for their funeral. ​

​​Information from Mayoral Leaflet.

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Councillor Jim Shorrock​​

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Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, 2019/2020, Labour

On leaving school, Jim worked at G.E.C. Engineering in Clayton-le-Moors, before joining the R.A.F. in 1979. He served six years as a Steward working in Officers and Senior N.C.O’s Messes, and on V.I.P. and Royal Functions.

Having been brought up in the Licensed Trade from a young age, Jim then pursued a career running several Public Houses in the borough, including The Horseshoe in Darwen, The Globe Inn and The Courts Hotel.  Jim served as Treasurer and Chair. of Daniel Thwaites Tenants Association in the mid 1990’s, and, as a Member of Blackburn Licensed Victuallers and as North-West Parliamentary Representative for the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations.

In 2001, Jim then took up a new career with ISS Facility Services Ltd, serving in several job roles, including, most recently, as a Training Manager.

In 2004, Jim was elected to the Council, representing Shadsworth with Whitebirk Ward, and, more recently, Blackburn Southeast, for the Labour Party, holding several positions including Chair. of Policy and Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee for most of that time.  He also serves as a School Governor for both Shadsworth Infants and Junior Schools.

In 2012, Jim achieved the title of Fellow of the British Institute of Innkeeping, recognising his many years in the Licensed Trade.

Jim is looking forward to his Mayoral year, ably accompanied by his Consort Mark and Mayoress Linda.
​THOMAS, Derian House, Every Action Has Consequences, Youth Action 

Information from Mayoral Leaflet

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