December 2007 - January 2008
Suresh Kumar presents... The Annual RCA Awards Nite
L to R: Suresh Kumar, Mona Kumar, Col. Alan Hall, The Mayor,
Cllr.Weinberg, leader Redbridge Council, Cllr. Keith Prince
Celebrating the achievements and contributions of the community of Redbridge, Suresh Kumar, Chairman, Redbridge Cultural Association (RCA) hosted the annual Awards Nite on Friday 19th October, beginning with a red-carpet reception at Ilford Town Hall.
The black-tie event has been hosted by the RCA since 2000, with the purpose of bringing together the community of Redbridge and honouring its local citizens, whilst simultaneously raising money for charity. This year RCA are supporting UNICEF and the Redbridge Mayor’s Charity; Victim Support and The Hospital Chapel.
The celebratory evening celebrations were attended by a host of guests, including MPs, dignatories, businessmen and key members of the local community across South East London. On his unfettered commitment to serving the local community, and his passion for the now established RCA Awards, Suresh Kumar, Chairman, Redbridge Cultural Association says, “Having grown up here, I naturally hold Redbridge and the local community very close to my heart. The wonderful sense of unity and community, where all cultures and peoples come together in perfect synchronicity, is a shining example for other parts of London and, indeed, the UK at large.
The coveted RCA Awards were announced for Rising Star, Restaurateur of the Year, Police Officer of the Year, School Head/Teacher of the Year, Service to the Community, Sports Personality of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Doctor of the Year, Local Councillor of the Year, as well as four prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards.
This year’s winners are:
Rising Star: Varun Bhanot
A 17-year-old student at Ilford County High School, Varun founded the ‘Flavours of the Future’ project - a variety show this year at the Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford. This was the first project of its kind in Redbridge and was produced solely by youngsters under 18. Following two years of preparation, Varun managed to recruit over 120 students from every school in the borough and united them for the cause, raising both the profile of the youths and in excess of £5,000 in one night for the Mayor’s Charity, Barnado’s Workshop. As Head of PR for Redbridge Youth Council, Varun takes an active interest in promoting a good message to the youth of Redbridge. An ambassador for the ‘Beatbullying’ campaign in Redbridge, a peer mentor in his school and an avid member of the Redbridge Debate Team, Varun is a high flier, all set to take the world by storm.
Restaurateur of the Year: Sam Baxi
Founder of Kanchan’s restaurant, Sam Baxi was born in Tanzania, came to the UK in 1978, and was a director at British Telecom. In 1994, his wife started a home kitchen service, supplying food to customers from the local community. As this business began to flourish, a decision was taken to open their first restaurant in Manor Park, in 1997, naming it Kanchan’s, after his wife. A second branch was added at Gants Hill in 2001. This tastefully decorated branch was the catalyst for regeneration in the Gants Hill area, as very quickly, other businesses have also begun to develop. Kanchans has been voted one of the top thirty Indian restaurants across the UK, and is registered to conduct civil marriages at its premises in Gants Hill. Its North-Indian food is a favourite amongst restaurant-goers, and the live music provided on weekends has proved popular. Sam Baxi is a charity fundraiser for the World Punjabi Organisation. He also supports the Breast Cancer Awareness Appeal and is now establishing a Rotary Club branch in Ilford.
Police Officer of the Year: Chief Inspector Carl Lindley
Carl Lindley is a Senior Police Officer who continues to work with different communities across London. In 1985, Carl joined the Metropolitan Police Service. He held various roles at Newham and Stoke Newington, before being requested to work in Redbridge in 2004, to establish partnership and community relations. He has been successful in recruiting candidates for the police from within the ethnic community, and took on the task of reassuring the communities after the terrorist atrocities. He has single-handedly established the Muslim Forum against Extremism and Islamophobia. In 2006, when the Guru Swami Ramdev came to the UK, Carl managed his visit with the utmost care and respect, that he has always shown to all faiths within Redbridge. Carl is also one of only a handful of trained and qualified hostage negotiators within the Metropolitan Police Service.
School Head/Teacher of the Year: Keith Wilkinson
Keith Wilkinson has been the Headmaster of the Chadwell Heath Foundation School since 1989. From that time, he has been an amazing role model to staff and pupils alike. His belief is to support and encourage all pupils to succeed and to give pupils the opportunity to develop their special interests and aptitudes. Under Keith’s guidance, the school has gone from strength to strength, as evidenced by the excellent GCSE results this year, where the five A - C passes has risen to an astounding 97% this year, from 21% back in 1988. The sixth form has expanded, and now has over three hundred students. New buildings have also gone up in the school, in the form of a five badminton court sports hall, dance and drama studios and a fitness suite, while a music/media suite is in the process of being built.
Service to the Community: Arun Patel
Founder of Robinsons Sterling in Ilford, Arun Patel was born in Uganda, East Africa, and suffered from polio very early on in life, which left his right leg completely paralysed. At present, both his legs are polio ridden. This, however, has not held him back in any way. At the age of 22, Arun qualified as a Chartered Accountant, and went on to work for KPMG, before starting his own successful business – Robinsons Sterling. In 2003, Arun Patel founded ‘Polio Children,’ a charity with the aim of providing educational facilities for children suffering from polio, giving them hope and the ability to lead a life with dignity. Arun sold his business in 2006, to concentrate further on this charity. In less than four years, Polio Children has raised in excess of £600,000 for charity, and this has enabled the construction of a purpose built hostel and university education for over 40 children. Arun Patel has been very successful in drumming up support within Redbridge for this worthy cause and has a tremendous following from all communities.
Sports Personality of the Year: Ravinder Singh Bopara
Batsman for Essex County Cricket Club, Ravi Bopara has already established himself as a force to be reckoned with, at the tender age of 22. At 17, Ravi earned a professional contract with Essex, and since then he has never looked back. He made his first-team debut that same year, before playing for England at the Under-19 World Cup in 2003. Ravinder was a late selection for the England A squad in the West Indies in 2006, but made his ODI debut against Australia at Sydney. A challenging start to anyone’s career, but he handled the pressure of the situation with ease, and claimed the wicket of Mike Hussey. He has a career best so far of 159 runs against Glamorgan at Cardiff. Although a top order batsman, Ravinder can also chip in with some handy middle paced bowling and his fielding is first class, learning more and maturing with every match that he plays.
Entrepreneur of the Year: Jas Dhooper
Founder of Geminex Management Jas Dhooper, a qualified Accountant and an associate of the British Hotel accountants, has a 21-year background in hotels. Over the years, he has successfully held senior finance posts with Millennium & Copthorne hotels and more recently as Director of Finance for Hilton hotels. Jas was heavily involved in the flotation of the Millennium & Copthorne hotels, and the subsequent acquisition and management of over £200m hotels in London. Jas also steered the Hilton hotel through the difficult times of the 9/11 tragedy. In 2004, Jas set up Geminex Management Ltd to manage and develop limited service hotels in key locations in the UK. To date, Geminex manages over 500 bedrooms with a development in the pipeline of over 700 bedrooms.
Doctor of the Year: Dr. Pran Luthra
Dr. Pran Luthra came to the UK in 1968. He was one of the early Indian doctors to come over to England and establish a career in the mid sixties. Thereafter he joined King George Hospital, and worked as a consultant surgeon. He then went on to work as a general surgeon, specialising in Colo Rectal Surgery. After many successful years at King George, Dr. Luthra was one of the first doctors to work at the new Bupa Roding and Holly House Hospitals, and has been an active supporter of Cancer Research UK. In recent years, he has established two nursing homes with the single goal in mind of providing better care and rehabilitation services to the elderly.
Local Councillor of the Year: Cllr Loraine Sladden
Loraine Sladden has lived in Redbridge for over 25 years, and worked in the City as a Bank Manager for over 15 years until the birth of her daughter in 1996. Spending more time in the borough with her new child made her more aware of the surrounding environment. This sparked her interest in local politics, and in 2002 Loraine won the seat in Aldborough Ward as a Conservative Candidate. Loraine has served on a number of committees, notably as Chairman of the Area 4 committee and as the Chairman of the Leisure, Culture and the Olympics Scrutiny Committee. She has been involved in introducing the Parks Police effort, and the formation of ‘Vision,’ a trust set up to effectively run local leisure facilities. In her own ward, Loraine has been the driving force behind the restoration of Fairlop Waters and is currently campaigning to save the Spearpoint Gardens Doctors’ Surgery in Aldborough Road North from closure by the Primary Care Trust.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Peter Scott
Peter Scott has been Head Master of Bancroft’s School, Woodford Green since September 1996, and after 11 years of hard work, he steps down this Christmas. Under the leadership of Dr Scott, Bancroft’s has excelled, becoming firmly established as one of the country’s top co-educational schools and frequently topping the league tables at KS2 and GCSE level. This year’s A level results set a new record, with 2/3 of all entries being graded A. The school has also established a strong record in sport (they are currently the U14 National netball champions) and Engineering. The buildings have been developed, with a new kitchen, sixth form centre, sports hall and drama studio being recent additions. Alongside running a successful school, Peter also lends his time to a whole range of activities. Peter is Chairman of Governors at Gatehouse School in Tower Hamlets, and has become a Trustee of Education Action International, a charity which works to promote education in the aftermath of war; he recently travelled to Uganda to see the problems in that country.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Awtar Singh Johal
Awtar Singh Johal, one of the earliest settlers in the UK from India, arrived in the early 1950’s penniless, but with a burning desire to succeed. In the early years, together with the support of his late wife Harminder, he lent his hand to various business ventures, and was the first Asian tie manufacturer supplying Marks & Spencer - no mean achievement bearing in mind their strict quality control. In more recent years Mr. Johal’s impressive business portfolio includes care homes, hotels and property investments, all of which are based in Redbridge, and the reigns have now been passed over to his two sons. Throughout both the Asian and wider community Awtar Singh Johal is highly respected for his fair and ethical business practice as well as his compassion. Few people can match Awtar’s strong principles, determination or faith. He was the first President of the Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Barking.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Jack Petchey
Jack Petchey was born in 1925, in Plaistow, East London. He left school at the age of 14, and began work as an Office Boy for the Solicitors Law Stationery Society. Eventually, with £60 to his name, he bought his first car before founding a car hire and sales business. A few years later, he undertook a new challenge and opened a holiday complex in a beautiful location in the Algarve, which continues to run successfully to this day. He also introduced the concept of timesharing to Portugal. Though over the years, Jack Petchy has received numerous accolades for his work on property development, in 1999, he founded the Jack Petchey Foundation, commending achievements of schools, colleges and youth clubs. The Foundation recognises the achievement of young people in a positive and practical way, by granting funding for these organisations worth £4,000 a year. In 2004, Jack Petchey was granted the O.B.E, a well deserved honour, for a lifetime of endless achievement, dedication and hard work.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Colonel Alan Hall, TD.DL
Colonel Alan Hall has served Redbridge in excess of 20 years, and has the impressive achievement of working with over 20 mayors. His achievements range from charity work, through to lending his support to youth projects, such as Drugsline. Colonel Hall is also President of the St John Ambulance Ilford Division, President of London North East Scout Association, a Patron of the Haven House Foundation, and the Chief Trustee of the Cystic Fibrosis Holiday Fund. Alongside presenting the Queen’s Awards for Industry, he has also been involved in organising royal visits for the benefit of the borough, including that of HM Queen.
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