Leeds Black Awards 2011 preview

Unsung members of the community who have helped to transform the lives of others will be recognised at a special awards ceremony tonight.

Residents in Leeds who have made a positive contribution to the city's African and Caribbean community will be honoured for their work at the Leeds Black Awards.

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Among the nominees in line for an accolade is 27-year-old Nathan James, who recently received a Pride of Britain Award for his work with disadvantaged young people.

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He made the life-changing decision to turn his back on a life of crime after sharing a cell with a heroin addict in Armley Prison.

Nathan was jailed twice and shot in the leg but now he is hoping to inspire disadvantaged youths to break out of the cycle of unemployment and crime.

He has been nominated for the Life Change Award and the Community Hero Award.

Founder of the Leeds Black Awards, Richard Smith, said: "The Leeds Black Awards was something that emerged out of a discussion about the basic human need to be acknowledged.

"It was felt that there were many people of African lineage who were

doing great things in their community, which were going unnoticed by all but those who knew of them.

"We decided that we should not only encourage these labours but also inspire others to realise that the things that they were doing were making an important contribution."

Nominees also include Kenneth Higgins for the Life Change Award, who, despite physical disabilities, has established himself as one of the most sought after bass players in the country.

He currently tours with singing sensation Corrinne Bailey-Rae.

Sporting and community hero Laila Nelson, who is on a mission to get children off the street and into sport, is also up for two awards including the Community Hero and Youth and Community Worker.

Winners will be unveiled at a special ceremony tonight at TJ's Woodhouse Club, in Leeds.

Nominees are voted for by the community and categories include Award for the Arts, Contribution to Sport, Best Radio Personality and Young Achiever.

Leeds Civic Hall golden owl. Picture: Ian Heszelgrave

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