“I don’t believe I am a hero, I think I did what any other normal person would have done.”
The prestigious GG2 Leadership Awards champions the achievements of different communities in the UK.
Now in its 15th year, the awards show no signs of slowing down. In fact they are becoming bigger and better! DESIblitz went along to meet the winners and catch the action.
On a frosty November evening, nothing beats rocking up at a glitzy awards ceremony.
Public figures such as Keith Vaz MP, Preeya Kalidas, Goldy Notay, Asad Shan and Laila Rouass swarmed the red carpet at the Westminster Park Plaza, London. All were eager to recognise and support our communities’ achievements.
This after all is an awards ceremony with a difference; honouring everyday people doing incredible things.
Ramniklal Solanki CBE, Editor in Chief of Asian Media & Marketing Group, summed up the event beautifully:
“We’re looking to recognise the best in everyone and tell people that whatever they are and whatever they are doing, it is possible to reach the heights they aspire to. Tonight’s winners are examples to us all.”
DJ and presenter Nihal from the BBC Asian Network hosted this year’s ceremony: “I was honoured to be invited by the Solanki family and I’m looking forward to the night,” he told DESIblitz before he took to the stage.
He certainly lived up to audience expectations. He brought a lot of energy and comedy to the show: “They normally only let one Sri Lankan it at ceremonies such as this. It was either me or George Alaghia,” he joked.
Entertainment came in the form of stand-up comedian Inder Manocha and a live jazz band. The band, fronted by Patrick Alan, kicked off the show and played music in between some of the awards and speeches.
The first award of the evening was the Spirit in the Community Award, won by Ingrid Loyau-Kennett. She courageously confronted two men armed with knives and a gun during a Woolwich attack. Ingrid was extremely modest on receiving the award:
“I don’t believe I am a hero, I think I did what any other normal person would have done,” she said.
Ritula Shah picked up the Media & Creative Arts Award for her work as a journalist and news presenter. She admitted to DESIblitz that the schedule of a news correspondent really is as hectic as it looks: “I admit that sometimes you do work eighteen hour days, but I enjoy it and that’s what keeps me doing it!”
GG2 Man of the Year was won by Professor Tejinder Virdee, who has been a professor of Physics for the last thirty years.
GG2 Woman of the Year was given to Christine Lee who founded the largest British Chinese law firm in the UK. She told DESIblitz that this award was ‘dedicated to the British Chinese community who are still very much unheard of in society’.
The most important achievement for many was that of Malala Yousafzai and her two friends, Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan. They showed exceptional bravery in standing up against Taliban rule in their village in Swat Valley, Pakistan.
The girls now campaign for women’s rights. They were honoured this evening with the Hammer Award. Malala also topped the GG2 Power 101 list which captures the 101 most influential Asians in the UK.
As well as the awards, the speeches were a key part of the night. It came as no surprise that chief guest Nick Clegg’s speech commanded the full attention of the audience:
“I may not be Asian, but I know what it is like to have feet in different communities. I am half Dutch, a quarter Russian and my wife is from Spain. Having a different culture is something that I celebrate, something that I want to see my country celebrate.”
No event of this kind is complete without a mouth-watering menu. The catering at this year’s GG2 Leadership Awards provided by Madhu’s definitely ticked all boxes. Guests were wowed with dishes including salmon tikka canapés, mattar paneer and the heavenly butterscotch pot de crème.
The full list of winners of the GG2 Leadership Awards 2013 are as follows:
GG2 Spirit in the Community Award
GG2 World Food Award
Harry Dulai (Sales Director, Surya Foods)
GG2 Professional of the Year Award
Tariq Sadiq (Barrister, St Philips Chambers)
GG2 Media & Creative Arts Award
Ritula Shah (Journalist and News Presenter, BBC Radio)
GG2 Young Journalist of the Year
Nazia Dewji (Reporter, Surrey Comet and Kingston Guardian)
GG2 Achievement through Adversity
Asif Iqbal MBE (President, Harrow Deaf Club)
GG2 Entrepreneur of the Year
Prakash Thakrar (Managing Director, HT & Co Drinks)
GG2 Pride of Britain Award
Simon Woolley (Director, Operation Black Vote)
GG2 Woman of the Year
Christine Lee (Managing Director, Christine Lee & Co)
GG2 Man of The Year
Professor Tejinder Virdee (Imperial College, London)
GG2 Hammer Award
Malala Yousafzai, Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz.
The awards demonstrate yet again that ordinary people are doing extraordinary things. By recognising and celebrating these achievements, we are hopefully making the sheer hard work of the all those nominated worthwhile. Congratulations to all winners.