Young heroes of Brent honoured with golden medallions at community awards ceremony
PUBLISHED: 12:52 05 February 2016 | UPDATED: 12:55 05 February 2016
A secondary school student who fought to have her best friend returned to the UK was among young people from Brent handed golden medallions and cheques for £200 at a charity awards ceremony.
Hundreds of young people from secondary schools and youth clubs across Brent packed out the Civic Centre in Engineers Way on February 3 to celebrate this year’s winners of the Jack Petchey Foundation Achievement awards.
The awards, founded by former taxi driver and self-made multi-millionaire Sir Jack Petchey, recognize young Londoners aged 11-25 who are voted by their peers and leaders for their efforts to support others and lead by example in their community.
One award-winner Harisa Bhatti, 17, was nominated by her teachers at Kingsbury High School in Princes Avenue after she successfully battled to have her best friend brought back to the UK after she was taken abroad against her will.
After a harrowing 18-month ordeal, in which Ms Bhatti lobbied UK authorities and supported her friend via social media when many others had given up hope, her friend was finally brought home.
Anette Woodrow, co-ordinator of the Jack Petchey award at Kingsbury High School, said: “Harisa is a student I have the outmost admiration for, and truly highlights what it means to be a Kingsburian. When you think about what true friendship is, I would highlight Harisa as a true example of this.”
Ms Bhatti’s grant award has funded the purchase of a collection of classic literature novels for the school library.
Seven members of staff and the student community at the Convent of Jesus and Mary language college in Crownhill Road, Willesden were joined by Deputy Mayor of Brent Cllr Parvez Ahmed as they received their golden medallions for outstanding contributions to the school community.
Sir Jack also congratulated 13-year-old steel-pan musician Maya Baker from St Michael’s Youth Project based at All Angels Church in Stonebridge on her “positive contribution” and dedication to her steel orchestra.
Commenting on Ms Baker’s three-years of contribution to the St Michael and All Angels Steel Orchestra, a spokesman for the Jack Petchey organization said: “Maya Baker demonstrated all the qualities of a Jack Petchey award winner when she took a small ensemble to perform and wow the audience at the arts depot in Finchley.
“Since then she has been the cornerstone of the bass section of the steel orchestra and has performed at the Notting Hill Carnival every year for the past three years. She continues to be a great ambassador for the St Michael’s youth project.”
Attending the awards ceremony, Cllr Ruth Moher, cabinet member for children’s services said: “It is wonderful to see so many young people having their achievements recognised. Well done and thanks to the Jack Petchey Foundation for their work in Brent.”
East-end born Sir Jack Petchey, 90 founded his £100 million charitable foundation in 1999 after becoming one of London’s most successful self-made businessmen.
Youth groups across Brent have won more than £582,000 in funding for their projects since 2005.