Eastern Eye (UK)

Breaking barriers to reach the top


- GG2 Hammer Award: Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak became the first British Asian to become prime minister of the UK in October 2022.

His parents came to the UK in the 1960s from east Africa, and like many immigrant families, Sunak’s GP father Yashvir and pharmacist mother Usha worked long hours to ensure a better future for their children.

Armed with degrees from Oxford and Stanford, Sunak started out as an investment banker. But he switched to politics and was elected to parliament in 2015 from Richmond, Yorkshire, one of the safest Conservati­ve seats in the country.

During the Covid pandemic, Sunak won praise for his efforts in saving jobs as chancellor. In October 2022, he entered 10 Downing Street after the resignatio­n of his predecesso­r Liz Truss.

Man of the Year: Vinai Venkatesha­m

The chief executive of Arsenal Football Club, Vinai Venkatesha­m is the Premier League’s youngest CEO and the only one from an ethnic minority background. A graduate from Oxford University, he started out as an accountant at Arthur Anderson. After working at the London Olympics, he joined Arsenal where he rose through the ranks.

Venkatesha­m has operationa­l responsibi­lity for the club, working closely with the owners and the board, for on and offpitch matters. Previously, he was head of global partnershi­p and then the chief commercial officer at the club.

Before joining Arsenal, he was part of the successful commercial team at London 2012, which raised £2 billion of private finance to host the games.

Venkatesha­m supports British sport’s biggest events in his spare time, including sitting on the board of the World Athletics Championsh­ips in London in 2017. He is also currently on the board of the British Olympic Associatio­n.

Woman of the Year: Ayesha Vardag

Known as ‘Britain’s top divorce lawyer’, Ayesha Vardag brings commercial legal skills to divorce law. She specialise­s in high-net-worth divorces, often with an internatio­nal or celebrity element.

A self-made entreprene­ur, she is an advocate of equality and justice.

In 2010, Vardag represente­d German heiress Katrin Radmacher in the Radmacher v Granatino case. The groundbrea­king 2010 Supreme Court ruling ensured pre-nup agreements had validity in Britain, with eight out of nine Supreme Court judges ruling in Vardag’s favour.

She built Vardags Solicitors into one of the most respected family law firms in the country, breaking barriers in a traditiona­lly male-dominated profession. In 2017, Vardags was declared the fastest-growing law firm in Europe’s FT 1000 rankings.

Ram Solanki Beacon Award: Baroness Patricia Scotland

As the secretary general of the Commonweal­th, Baroness Patricia Scotland has ensured each of the 56 member countries has an equal voice and standing.

During her tenure, she has transforme­d the organisati­on.

Born in Dominica in 1955, she moved to the UK with her family, growing up in east London. She became the first black woman to be appointed a Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 1991 and then the first black female to be appointed deputy high court judge, recorder and master of Middle Temple. She joined the House of Lords in 1997 as Baroness Scotland of Asthal and went on to serve as a minister in the Foreign Office, Home Office and Lord Chancellor’s Department.

She undertook a major reform of the criminal justice system, including the introducti­on of the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act.

Scotland was appointed attorney general in 2007, the first woman to hold the post since it was created in 1315.

Blossom Award: Seeds for Growth

Gregory Cohn created the charity Seeds for Growth to help underprivi­leged communitie­s, and it is developing new gardens in greater London. Its Greening Communitie­s project supports tenants on social housing estates to create new community gardens and green spaces.

Launched in 2006 in London’s Tower Hamlets to initially work with the Bangladesh­i community, Seeds for Growth identifies under-used land on social housing estates and engages local tenants to establish community gardens which help promote wellbeing and healthy lifestyles.

Across the UK, 150 Greening Communitie­s franchise satellites will be launched in cities and large towns. The goal is to create 800 new community gardens annually, which will attract four million visitors a year.

Previously, Cohn developed the idea of establishi­ng food co-ops to provide healthy fresh food for disadvanta­ged communitie­s. In one London borough, 35,000 people are accessing fresh food from such food co-ops.

Outstandin­g Achievemen­t in Law Award: Nasreem Karim

The founder director of Platinum Partnershi­p Solicitors, Nasreen Karim became the first British Pakistani woman to set up a legal practice in Bradford when she launched the law firm in 2004.

Karim is known for leading on diversity and inclusion transforma­tion in business and education in the region through her work as a lawyer and director of the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

She is the founder and chairperso­n of the organisati­on’s first BAME Business Committee, which aims to encourage the active participat­ion of BAME businesses in the city. She is also a board member of the Bradford Chamber and a member of the MBA internatio­nal advisory board at the University of Bradford.

For more than 20 years, Karim helped put Asian businesses on the map when it comes to economic affairs in the west and north Yorkshire region. She is a champion of minority businesses and has also been pivotal in bringing communitie­s together.

Outstandin­g Achievemen­t in Medicine Award: Dr Senthil Nathan

Surgeon Senthil Nathan is a gold medallist from India, before he moved to the UK. After working in general surgery and obtaining an FRCS in Yorkshire, Nathan obtained a diploma in urology while working at Royal Free Hospital.

He is now an eminent urological surgeon working at both University College London Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic in central London.

His pioneering work in robotic surgery revolution­ised surgical procedures, and he continues to develop this cutting-edge technology with the Chitra Sethia Centre for Robotics, funded by the philanthro­pist Nirmal Sethia. He has many firsts in surgical techniques in robotic surgery, especially in urology, and is a keen educator.

Nathan is a member of the British Associatio­n of Urological Surgeons and the Royal Society of Medicine. He is also an honorary advisor to the N Sethia Foundation and trustee of the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation.

Young Achiever Award: Isaan Khan The Daily Mail journalist Isaan Khan is known for his undercover investigat­ions, having already broken several exclusives, and many of them have led to further scrutiny and calls for more probes.

As an investigat­ive reporter, Khan went undercover to expose the security company at the centre of the security failures during the 2020 Euro football final at Wembley stadium. He also acted as a 111 call handler and showed there were serious deficienci­es in the system, which were letting patients down.

In addition, Khan secured an interview with jailed fraud Allen Stamford in the US, securing the cooperatio­n of the authoritie­s on his own. He covered the general election for Trinity Mirror’s data unit, where his role was to fact-check and verify claims and sources. Khan has been trained in London to use platforms such as Trendolize­r, Newswhip and Trendsmap.

Achievemen­t through Adversity Award: Corporal Hari Budha Magar

Having grown up in a farming village in Nepal, Corporal Hari Budha Magar joined the British Army’s Gurkha regiment at the age of 19 and served in some of the harshest terrains in Afghanista­n during his 15-year military career.

Magar, who lost his legs after stepping onto an IED in Afghanista­n in 2010, became determined to challenge perception­s about disabled people. He rediscover­ed his confidence through an array of sports which included skydiving, kayaking, cycling and skiing, before taking up mountain climbing.

He has since scored several firsts, trekking to Everest Base Camp and scaling mountains in Nepal and Western Europe. He climbed to the top of Mont Blanc, Chulu Far East, Kilimanjar­o and Mera Peak. Magar is the first double above-theknee amputee to ever summit a mountain taller than 6,000 metres.

Inspire Award: Dr Geeta Nargund

Professor Geeta Nargund is the founder of Create Fertility, and is also an activist and campaigner for women’s health issues. Her treatments are known for being cost-effective. In addition to running Create, she conducts research, writes papers and serves on the government body which regulates the industry.

Nargund is a senior consultant gynaecolog­ist and lead consultant for reproducti­ve medicine services at St George’s Hospital, London.

She has published more than 60 peerreview­ed scientific papers, including abstracts, as well as several book chapters in the field of reproducti­ve medicine.

Nargund is a pioneer in the field of natural and mild IVF and advanced ultrasound technology in reproducti­ve medicine, and is an accredited trainer for infertilit­y and gynaecolog­ical ultrasound special skills modules. She pioneered the use of follicular Doppler in assessing ‘egg quality’ in humans. She is also a regular speaker at Westminste­r seminars on health and social care in the UK.

Young Journalist of the Year: Elaine Chong

Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Elaine Chong was selected by the BBC’s World Service for its ‘Future Voices’ programme, which took just six bilingual trainees out of an applicatio­n pool of 3,000.

Chong produced a series for the BBC based on observing east Asian migrant culture in Britain and looking at beauty, sex and culture in these groups.

Last year, she was behind Britain’s New Hongkonger­s, a documentar­y that looked at recent arrivals to the UK from the former British colony and how much had changed since the introducti­on of China’s nationwide National Security Law. Her contributi­ons to Rolling Stone magazine, Esquire and Vice had an immediate impact and led to the commission­ing of a TV documentar­y series on BBC Three.

She is an alumna of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Spirit in the Community Award: Harris Bokhari

Community champion Harris Bokhari has strived to help change people’s lives, and founded the Patchwork Foundation in 2010 to increase the representa­tion of young people in the political system.

Bokhari was the first non-white trustee of the Natural History Museum in London, a world-leading science research centre and the most-visited natural history museum in Europe.

He is the first Muslim to be elected to the National Trust Council. As a member of the Honours Committee, Bokhari has been an advocate for senior honours for those from ethnic communitie­s.

His work helps in reaching out to communitie­s to bridge gaps in understand­ing and to encourage dialogue, engagement and collective action.

A chartered accountant and a tax and financial advisor, Bokhari previously worked for PwC, KPMG and Baker Tilly.

 ?? ?? INSPIRATIO­NAL JOURNEY: The GG2 award winners on the night
INSPIRATIO­NAL JOURNEY: The GG2 award winners on the night

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