Hanif Malik: Leeds community leader thrilled with honour at Buckingham Palace

PIC: PA

PIC: PA

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A stalwart of the Leeds community mixed with royalty as he received an OBE for his work in the south of the city.

Hanif Malik travelled to Buckingham Palace with wife Rifhat and 12 year-old daughter Hibah to collect the medal.

It was presented to him by the Duke of Cambridge who asked Mr Malik about his work in Leeds and the young people he works with.

Mr Malik said: “I was not sure who would be presenting it so that was a nice bonus.

“It went by so quickly but we chatted for about a minute.

“He asked about my charity work and if I could pick one bit out because I told him I work with various aspects and I said young people.

“He was very genuine and seemed interested in what I was saying, I was not too sure what to expect but he was just as friendly as people say that he is.

“It has been an exciting day and the usual mixture of emotions. The adrenaline is just about wearing off.”

He added that the day had been made extra special because his family had been able to join him after getting special permission to take Hibah out of school for the day.

He joked: “They asked whether it was for a dentist or doctor’s appointment and I said ‘no, I am going to Buckingham Palace.

“They said it was not an excuse they had heard before but it was genuine.”

Mr Malik found out in June that he was to receive the OBE for services to sport and the community, particularly in Yorkshire after being nominated by others.

A huge part of his work is the Hamara Healthy Living Centre in Beeston.

He is the founder and chief executive of the organisation which started out in an office with two members of staff in 2002.

It has since grown to become the largest ethnic minority organisation in the voluntary and community sector in Leeds.

Working primarily with the South Asian community, it now employs over 20 staff in a £1.2m purpose-built centre who deliver a range of health, well-being and educational services.

He was also awarded an honorary degree from Leeds Metropolitan University in 2014.

Mr Malik said he was speechless when he found out he would be getting an OBE but added he hoped it would aid the work he does.

He said: “It is great to get the accolade and nice to be recognised and I am hugely honoured, but if it impacts positively on the work itself then that would be the greatest legacy.

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