Leeds: Gala night for those who ‘make society better’

Sharon Cheng, director of the Leeds Children's Heart Surgery Fund. PIC: Arnie Sajid
Sharon Cheng, director of the Leeds Children's Heart Surgery Fund. PIC: Arnie Sajid
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A host of unsung Leeds heroes have been honoured for their selfless dedication to their city and their communities.

Among the winners at the fourth annual Hamara Community Awards was the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. The charity delivered the UK’s biggest ever regional petition, with 600,000 signatures, to Downing Street. The charity was awarded Hamara’s Special Initiative award, which was accepted by director Sharon Cheng.

Hundreds of guests, among them Leeds Rhinos star and guest speaker Jamie Jones Buchanan, attended the gala night at the Aagrah Midpoint Suite.

The Community Organisation of the Year award went to the Manuel Bravo Project, which offers free legal advice to asylum seekers. The project is named after a Leeds asylum seeker from Angola, who had fled to the UK after his pro-democracy activity led to attacks on his family, including the murder of his parents. After the legal system failed him, he took his own life, hoping his son would be allowed to remain safely in the UK.

The other winners were: Service to the Community – Margaret Bingham for the Ciaran Bingham Foundation Trust, set up in the name of her teenage son who died in a car crash, and which supports vulnerable and older people; Young Person’s award – boxer Qais Ashfaq, who is set to represent the UK at the next Commonwealth and Olympic games; Women’s Achievement – community worker and mum-of-five Fatima Ayub; Lifetime Achievement – Ishtiaq Mir.

Hanif Malik, CEO of Hamara, said the awards offered “the opportunity to not only highlight the achievements of Hamara, but also the fantastic and often unheralded work undertaken by so many who make society a better place to live”.

“We are only able to honour six of these individuals and agencies with awards, but we salute the efforts of everyone involved in the voluntary and community sector,” he said.

Hamara, based in Tempest Road, Beeston, will celebrate its 10th birthday in February.

It started from humble beginnings as a support group for Asian elders, but now runs youth groups, an educational supplementary school, community cohesion work, projects to address health inequalities in the inner cities and more.

Stephen Blake of the CMA  Photo: Vikki Ellis

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