Starry Occasion Inspires All


September 15, 2005

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Events – UK

… A special award was also given to a man who is the face of the global Parsi community. Dorab Mistry has led the small but hugely …


IT WAS a night of high emotion when Sir Ian Blair, Commissioner of the Metropolitan police, said that London’s amazing diversity would defeat terrorism.

Sir Ian was speaking as the chief guest last night (September 13) at the GG2 Leadership and Diversity Awards Gala Dinner 2005.

He told the audience of 1,500, including many religious leaders, politicians, corporate chiefs, and celebrities that only by different communities working together could the menace of terrorism be vanquished.

“They would hate an evening like this,” he told the guests at Grovesnor House in Park Lane, London. “They would hate all the different races coming together; the intermingling, the laughter. They hated London. They hated Britain and they hated me. We will defeat them. They will not win.”

Making a keynote address as the chief guest, he said he was keen to recruit more officers from minority groups, lamenting the fact he had only 20 Hindu officers and some 250 Muslim and Sikh members.

He also told the audience that he had made a point of bringing his family to the event so that they could see the richness and meaning of diversity before their very eyes. He also spoke movingly of a young Sikh officer who had died in a car crash, saying that attending the funeral had shown him that grief and pain had no religion.

Sir Ian presented the most prestigious of the 15 awards to actor, writer and performer Meera Syal. She was given the Hammer award, which recognises a person who has smashed the proverbial glass ceiling and inspired others to follow in their footsteps.

Syal, who has appeared in two major BBC dramas this year, Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee and The Secretary Who Stole Millions, said: “`I am really honoured to win this. I have been in the business some 20 years and when I look back over the years it was hard at the beginning and a struggle, and this makes me very proud.”

Britain’s successful 2012 Olympic Bid Team was also recognised. It was given the GG2 Leadership and Diversity Award for Sport after making the capital’s diversity a key selling point in the nation’s successful Olympic bid.

Also recognised on the evening was tv personality Floella Benjamin. She was awarded the GG2 Lifetime Achievement Award for her services to broadcasting, which encompasses not only performing but producing documentaries and directing.

She said she was touched and honoured and urged people to help disadvantaged children.

Guests were entertained with a fashion show staged by Selfridges & Co, one of several leading corporate sponsors. Showcasing over 15 designers, the extravaganza didn’t fail to impress with its plethora of gleaming couture collections.

Many of the awards were presented by celebrities, including The Kumars at No 42 star, Sanjeev Bhaskar, comedian and performer Nina Wadia and former Bombay Dreams lead, Preeya Kalidas. Many other stars were at the event, now in its seventh year and a distinct highlight in the capital’s social diary.

A special award was also given to a man who is the face of the global Parsi community. Dorab Mistry has led the small but hugely influential Parsi community with flair and distinction and was presented with a GG2 Community Leadership award.

There were prizes too for Nikesh Arora, who collected the Man of the Year award for the way he has led Google in Europe; and Nina Ahmad, who picked up the Woman of the Year award for becoming the first Asian woman to edit a mainstream womens’ magazine, B.

But the evening wasn’t just about fashion and celebrity as lesser known people of achievement were also feted last night.

There was an Achievement Through Adversity award for Jasvinder Sanghera, who ran away from home at the age of 15 following a forced marriage and went onto gain a degree and become the national manager for charity Refuge, which helps woman combat domestic violence.

The remarkable story of Tilda Rice was also recognised last night when the Thakrar family, who started the business from a warehouse in Harrow in the 70s, was presented with the GG2 Leadership and Diversity Entrepreneur Award.

And of one the country’s few Muslim women head teachers, Bushra Nasir took the Teacher of the Year Award for the way she has consistently raised academic achievement in Newham.

Kalpesh Solanki, managing editor of the Asian Media and Marketing group, said: “The evening and the awards are a powerful statement of what it means to be British – and different. The awards not only recognise talent and hard work but celebrate difference. They recognise that there are people of inspiration from all communities and that they enrich us all and add immeasurably to the dynamism, vitality and wealth of our nation.”

In his keynote address, he said that Asians had always recognised a brotherhood that cut across religious lines and that this spirit should not be lost – despite recent events.

“Asians have lived together for generations and generations. Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs our history is intertwined living in the same land for a thousand years,” he said.

The evening was compered by broadcaster Niki Bedi and former Bombay Dreams star Sophyia Haque.

Guests enjoyed a sumptuous four course Indian meal.

The winners of the GG2 Leadership and Diversity awards were selected by a high powered jury, which included former Guardian editor Peter Preston, Royal Mail chairman Allan Leighton – both of whom presented major awards on the evening – and several other leading figures from the world of entertainment, business and politics.

The Asian Media and Marketing Group, the organizers of the GG2 Leadership and Diversity Awards, are Britain’s largest Asian publishing house.

The group produces a collection of c