REGIONAL NEWS: Magnifique! Bradford hospital cyclists triumph for charity

    Bradford Royal Infirmary staff are celebrating raising thousands of pounds for charity after saddling up for a gruelling 300-mile cycle ride.

    The ‘magnificent seven’ who cycled from London to Paris in a bid to boost funds for Bradford Hospitals Children’s Charity were: Consultants Beccy Bardgett (Paediatrics), Sarah Jowett (Gastroenterology); Sue Calvert (Gynaecology); Cord Spilker (Neurology) and Farzana Khan (Emergency Medicine), along with Medical Secretary, Linda Lawson and Review Manager, Louise Clarkson.

    They were joined by members of their family and friends, who are supporters of the charity: Mark Christopher, Tim Robinson, Lincoln Jowett, Angelica Santiago, Deborah Hardy, James Simpson and Kirsty Wild.

    The epic ride took four days, finishing under the shadow of the French capital’s famous landmark, the Eiffel Tower, and has raised more than £10,000 so far - with more money yet to come in.

    Together the sterling efforts of the ‘fabulous fourteen’ will make a huge difference to the babies, children and young people who become inpatients of BRI, part of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – as well as their families.

    The journey was not without a couple of glitches though, with two cyclists involved in accidents along the way and suffering injuries.

    Unfortunately, on Day One, just before the cyclists reached Dover, Consultant for Emergency Medicine, Farzana Khan skidded, falling from her bike and cutting her forehead, which she ably patched up herself using Steri-Strips and her mobile phone as a mirror!

    She said: “We were at a fork in the road with a turn to the left and then an immediate turn to the right. Unfortunately, the call to turn right came a bit too late and I turned too sharply. Before I knew it, I was skidding on gravel and bouncing off my bike. I was a bit shaken but managed to carry on.”

    For Medical Secretary, Linda Lawson, the ride ended on Day Three, in the town of Compiegne, when she was involved in an unavoidable collision with another rider. It resulted in a fracture to her collarbone and cuts needing stitches. But happily she was able to be at the finishing line to cheer on her team-mates and she is now slowly recovering.

    Paediatric Consultant, Beccy Bardgett said: “It was a fantastic experience and we certainly had one or two challenges along the way; not least the unfortunate accidents and weather. On Day Two as we arrived in Calais, there was a level three weather warning issued with people being told to stay indoors. The roads were flooded and covered in mud and debris and there were lightning strikes too so the organisers changed our route to try and avoid it. This meant we had some miles to catch up on during Days Three and Four.

    “But everywhere we cycled the French were clapping and cheering us on and shouting ‘allez, allez’ (go, go.)  At one point a French policeman in his car even encouraged us by calling out to us via the tannoy. And as we came up the Champs Elysees, the atmosphere was fantastic.

    “On behalf of the whole team, I would like to thank everyone for all the generous sponsorship and messages of support that we have received.”

    You can donate to Bradford Hospitals Children's Charity on justgiving (Donate now) or Beccy’s dedicated page for the London to Paris ride is also available for donations (Donate now).

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    REGIONAL NEWS: Yorkshire organisation set to document and celebrate history of Asians in cricket

    England cricketers Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid owe part of their success to early Asian migrants who played in local parks and set up teams and leagues over four decades ago. Now, a new project, ‘From Parks to Pavilions’ has been awarded a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund to document the history of Asian cricket in Yorkshire.

    The AYA Foundation, a community organisation specialising in promoting minority heritage, arts and culture, has been awarded a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund to work with young people from across West Yorkshire to record interviews and collect memorabilia from the founders of one of the oldest Asian led cricket leagues in Britain, the Bradford based Quaid-e Azam Sunday Cricket League.

    Mobeen Butt, Projects Director at the AYA Foundation said: “The Quaid-e Azam League has been running for nearly four decades. Players from these Asian cricket leagues are now being scouted by county cricket clubs and have even gone on to play for England. I believe the way Black and mixed-race players and audiences have changed the face of football, Asian players and supporters could go on to change the face of cricket – and when this happens the material that a project like this collects will be vital to help tell a wider story of cricket in Britain.”

    L-R: Nasser Hanif (Project Manager -FP2P), Taj Butt (Development Officer for Yorkshire Cricket Foundation), Mobeen Butt (Project Lead - FP2P) at Park Avenue Cricket Ground in Bradford.  [Image credit: AYA Foundation / Mobeen Butt]

    L-R: Nasser Hanif, Taj Butt, Mobeen Butt, at Park Avenue Cricket Ground in Bradford.
    [Image credit: AYA Foundation / Mobeen Butt]

    Thanks to National Lottery, players the project will work with over twenty young people and include trips to museums and archives, as well as, visits to Headingley and Lords. The project will produce a documentary and exhibit at this summer’s England versus Pakistan one day international at Headingley.

    Mr Butt added: “It’s very important that minority ethnic communities start writing their own history. Recording first-hand the voices of the pioneers and collecting primary source material is invaluable. We have already started losing some of our ‘founding-fathers’, those that arrived in the 1960s and 1970s. It is imperative that we empower the second, third and now fourth generations by giving them the resources and skills necessary to capture their own histories; before they are lost forever.

    He went on the say: “This project is important on so many levels and without the financial support of the Heritage Lottery Fund a project like this wouldn’t be possible. Young people will be taught how to conduct oral history interviews; how archives and museums work; how to produce documentaries;  how to develop exhibitions; how to conserve fragile objects; and hopefully one day in the not too distance future they will start to develop their own heritage projects.”

    Nasser Hanif, a BBC Radio journalist and Project Manager of the From Parks to Pavilions project, commented: “This project has been developed to coincide with this summer’s Pakistan tour of England. Older members of the Quaid-e Azam League say that it was when Pakistan toured England in the 70s that their passion for cricket was ignited and they would grab a bat and ball and start playing in the streets, alley ways and parks.

    “Asian men came to England to work in the 60s and 70s. They worked unsociable hours, did the night shifts and many worked six days a week. The only day they had off was Sundays, and as cricket was traditionally played during the week and Saturdays, the Asian cricketers didn’t get a chance to play with the established teams. Asian cricketers ended up playing in the streets, in car parks and play grounds. They started their own teams and competitions, and eventually their own Sunday leagues. The investment the Asian cricketing pioneers put in nearly four decades ago is now reaping rewards as theirs sons, nephews and grandchildren are now starting to break into the highest levels of English cricket.”

    Mark Arthur, Chief Executive of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, noted: “Yorkshire Cricket has a rich history and heritage and Asian cricket plays a major part in this. The Quaid-e Azam League is a very strong and well respected league, not just in Yorkshire, but nationally.  This project will be fantastic in documenting how the clubs and league have developed over the years as well as providing many people with fond memories.”

    Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Environment, Sport and Culture, said: “It’s important to record the rich history of our South Asian communities participating in one of our great national sports. Cricket is still close to the hearts of local people and is a significant factor in community cohesion. We’re pleased to see the Heritage Lottery Fund get behind this as we have an enormous passion for sport across the Yorkshire region and it is a great unifier.”

    Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “South Asian communities have contributed to cricket across the UK for many years, and we are delighted to fund this fascinating project looking back at the grassroots origins of so many successful players. We are particularly pleased to see young people getting the opportunity to explore an area of their community’s heritage with particular relevance to them”.

    Mr Hanif adds: ‘We are looking for enthusiastic and energetic young people, 14 to 24 year olds, from across West Yorkshire to help with the project. So please do come forward if you are a young person or know a young person that would benefit from taking part.’

    Anyone interested in finding out more should email or phone 07764 335 879.

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    REGIONAL NEWS: Winners announced for Bradford Small World Film Festival 2016

    A powerful story of a young Indian rag picker who aspires to be an engineer as he picks electronic waste to make machines from a monstrous hill of waste, has won top prize at this year’s Bradford Small World Film Festival.

    City’s Stepchild and the Dumphill Dreams by Delhi-based director Pranab Aich also took the documentary shorts top award. The moving film about children living at the margins of health and poverty was one of 31 which was selected by Bradford UNESCO  City of Film to be played in the month long film festival celebrating the diversity of life through film, in City Park on the Big Screen.

    A carpet weaver’s story of losing her family in a bomb attack, My Sardasht directed by  Ziba Arzhang  from Iran won in Best Animation.  And a tale of a botched blind date, The Park Bench, by American director G. Daniel Bailey won in the make Make Us Laugh category.  A special category featuring work from Sydney UNESCO City of Film with a focus on overcoming disability and prejudice was also screened for the panel.

    In a new addition to the festival, the winners were selected by Bradford people from all walks of life, coming together last night (Tuesday 21 June) as the People’s Panel in the glorious surroundings of City Hall.

    Festival director, David Wilson said: “We had a brilliant evening and I was bowled over with the enthusiasm and energy of our wonderful panel.  We had a really enjoyable and challenging time picking the winners as the quality and creativity of our filmmakers was so high.

    Panel member Rebecca Crabtree said: “It’s been a really enjoyable evening and the films covered such a variety of subjects giving us insights into all different sorts of worlds which I really liked.”

    Nasrina Malik who also sat on the panel said: “It’s been absolutely brilliant sitting on the People’s Panel. It’s been an event for all ages with both young and old here.  I was able to bring my elderly mum to the event and together we really enjoyed watching and voting for the films. It’s been a wonderful experience to share and we’d like to see more of these events in Bradford.”

    You can still catch the films on the big screen twice a day until the end of June.  For the programme see the website:

    Some of the films will also be selected to play at the the Harrogate International Festival next month.

    Bradford Small World Film 2016  Festival Finalists

    Finalists in the Animation category

    • Canned directed by Ivan Joy, Tanya Zaman and Nathanial Hatton, USA

    A street artist paints a beautiful mural of a woman on the wall, and is suddenly chased by police for having vandalised. The beautiful creation comes to life to save her creator in a chase scene through the favela’s of Rio de Janeiro.

    • Wildlife Crossing directed by Noro Držiak and Anthony Wong, Czech Republic

    The story of a witty and dynamic narrative about love of two snails, which must overcome the pitfalls of the harsh reality that separates them – the road in the middle of the countryside. Does he overcome his handicaps and proofs that true love never gives up

    • My Sardasht directed by Ziba Arzhang, Iran (CATEGORY WINNER)

    A bomb causes devastation in the city of Sardasht, leaving Kajal as the only survivor of her family. The story is told through carpet weaving.

    Finalists in the Documentary Short category

    • Together we are Beautiful directed by Natasha Hawthornthwaite, UK

     A documentary about love and happiness. The film follows a couple and their everyday life together. Filmed below the waistline along with the sound of their poems is an experimental way to see if the audience can understand characters without seeing their faces.

    • Master Kezban directed by Yavuz Özer, Turkey

    The story of Master Kezban who has been a carpenter in a remote Anatolian village for 20 years.

    • Hussein and Hassan directed by Jamillah van der Hulst, Netherlands

    Passionate boxing coaches Hussein and Hassan are the driving forces behind the East Coast Boxing Club, located in Naguru, one of the poorest neighborhoods of Uganda’s capital city Kampala. At a young age Hussein and Hassan had a successful international boxing career. This motivated them to go back to their local community and to support young boxers who, despite the tough living conditions, want to pursue their dreams to be something.

    • The Barnyard Sanctuary directed by Rebecca Blomgren, USA

    An animal sanctuary in Northwest New Jersey focuses on saving livestock from abandonment, homelessness, and slaughter

    • City’s Step Child and the Dump Hill Dreams directed by Pranab Kumar Aich, India  ( CATEGORY WINNER AND OVERALL WINNER)

    Unlike the many rag pickers working at this dump hill in Delhi, young Devendra is committed to collecting electronic waste discarded from our homes, in an attempt to create machines. Even the carcinogenic gases emitting from this hill have not been able to poison his engineering dreams. This documentary takes us through the breadwinning yet melancholic hill made out of city waste and its inhabitants living at the margins of health and poverty.

    Finalists in the Make Us Laugh category

    • The Park Bench directed by G. Daniel Bailey, USA. (CATEGORY WINNER)

    Two different men. Two different blind dates. One park bench. What could possibly go wrong?

    • Indalopathy directed by Jaime Garcia, Spain

    The life of an ancient village changes by an unexpected present.

    • Hijabi Fashionista directed by Aya Algergawy, The United Arab Emirates.

    Since the Hijab is quite a tactful matter, this short film aims to amiably portray the evolution of the head veil also known as the hijab from 1970 till today as many seem to seek it as a fashion trend

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    Tribute: 'Proud and pleased Jo Cox was my MP. We were lucky to have her!'

    BY Alison Bellamy

    She was undoubtedly a breath of fresh air and a force to be reckoned with in a political world which can often be petty, egotistical and cruel.

    Even for those of us who have or want nothing to do with politics, Jo Cox made her mark. And whatever your beliefs, she fought relentlessly for what she believed was right and just, particularly when it came to sticking up for those who were suffering injustice.

    One comment I saw made by a young Syrian man was that ‘she brightened up your day’. How very appropriate.
    In recent months she had visited the primary school my own young children attend as part of her local constituency work in Batley and Spen Valley. My little girls were talking non-stop about Jo Cox and what an MP did and how lovely she was. You can imagine how entranced the kids would have been as she simply and clearly explained herself.

    As my local MP, Jo Cox was immediately likeable. Not all MPs are. The overwhelming tributes which have flooded in from around the world pay justice to that. Canadian politician Nathan Cullen said in tears: “She used her voice for those who had none, dedicated her passion to those who needed it most.”

    jo cox 2I last saw her in Scope charity shop in Batley, happily chatting to people while perusing the clothes for sale and looking at brightly coloured blouses and I was struck by how extraordinary it was to see an MP in a charity shop buying her clothes. The same clothes she would probably wear in parliament to fight for people and debate life changing decisions. She may have been small in stature but her passion and heart were massive.

    I imagined the things she had seen as part of her humanitarian work abroad in Africa and Syria and felt proud and pleased she was choosing to buy recycled clothes. She fought tirelessly against injustice, child poverty and spoke up for Syria. After many years of being an aid worker she ended up being the head of humanitarian campaigning for Oxfam worldwide and had also worked for Save the Children and the NSPCC.

    She met her husband Brendan when working abroad and together they were known for their humanitarian beliefs, as they made their home when in London on a converted barge on the River Thames, where they raised their two young children aged three and five. She had recently told colleagues about putting calamine lotion on her child’s chicken pox.

    As a mum of two myself, I can barely think about what is left behind. And the heart-numbing and beautiful words written by husband Brendan in the hours after her death must have been the hardest thing he has ever had to do.

    Yet they say it all: “Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love. I and Jo’s friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo.

    “Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people. She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.

    “Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.”

    She had always worked hard, was the first from her family to go to university after attending Heckmondwike Grammar School and then Cambridge University, where she studied social and political science at Pembroke College, graduating in 1995.

    At the age of 40 she won the dream role of being MP in the area where she grew up, replacing retiring MP Mike Wood.
    Her mum Jean was a school secretary and her dad Gordon worked in a toothpaste factory in Leeds, where she also had summer jobs while studying. Her sister Kim works at Bradford College.

    She had called repeatedly for Britain to do more to help the victims of Syria’s civil war and had spoken out in favour of taking action against Syria, to stop the brutal way its people were and are suffering.

    She had set up a parliamentary group on Syria and staged Commons debates on the plight of the refugees. She argued forcefully that the UK Government should be doing more both to help the victims and use its influence abroad to bring an end to the Syrian conflict.

    Ms Cox, was the national chair of Labour's women's network and a senior advisor to the anti-slavery charity the Freedom Fund.

    One of her most significant interventions was over the decision to intervene in Syria, when she disagreed with her leader Mr Corbyn, who does not support military action in the region. She said at the time: "Syria is our generation’s test, our responsibility. A conflict so horrific that more than half of its people have been forced to flee their homes. Yet the international community’s response through the UN has been woefully inadequate. "

    She was loved by all who knew her, especially those in her beloved West Yorkshire constituency.

    In her maiden speech in 2015 she told how proud she was to represent her local area: “Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration, be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir. While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel ​around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

    Tributes came in from around the world and all the political greats with Jeremy Corbyn describing her as a ”much-loved colleague“ and David Cameron and Hilary Clinton among others praising her work and legacy.

    But it is perhaps the words from her own people, those she represented, that best sum up her dedication.
    Mehboob Khan, leader of Kirklees council, tweeted: “I knew Jo well, she was a fantastic MP in Kirklees, who only wanted to help people in Batley & Birstall”jo cox 1

    Her friend Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff, who is MP in the neighbouring town to Batley, tweeted: ‘All my love, thoughts and deepest sympathies to friends & family of Jo Cox. Such a horrific crime and massive loss. There are no words.’

    Author Ismail Patel, Chairman of the Friends of Al Aqsa, tweeted: ‘Greatly saddened to hear the murder of Jo Cox MP She was a great person champion of Justice Human Rights and worked tirelessly for the needy.’

    Mohamed Mulla, chair of the Indian Muslim Welfare Society, said: “She always fought for her constituents irrespective of race or faith. There is no place in our society for any form of extremism or violence instigated through radical thoughts.

    “It is a huge loss to all locally. And an even greater one to those close to her especially her husband and two young children. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family.”

    Ml Muhammad Mota, chairman of Rabetah al-Ulama al-Islamiyyah, the Institute of Islamic Scholars in Batley, said: “Jo was passionate about serving humanity, evident in her unrelenting support for the plight of the victims and particularly the children in Palestine and Syria.

    “Rabetah had the opportunity to work with Jo. She understood her community and actively sought to bridge divides.

    “Alongside her humanitarian work, Jo made it a priority to combat hate and Islamophobia. Sadly, we are once again reminded of the consequences of violence and hatred, and the poison of those who demonstrate a flagrant disregard for human life.”

    “Jo was always prepared to listen. She will be deeply missed by the whole community and Batley and beyond. Our deepest thoughts and condolences are with Brendan and the children in the difficult days ahead.”

    What rings out to me is the significance of the message in her maiden speech about us all having far more common with each other than things that divide us and she certainly worked passionately to prove that, irrespective of the hate that killed her; from mosques, to churches to diverse communities, people of all races, religions and beliefs have come together irrespective of background to unite against hate and celebrate the great life of Jo Cox.

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    MD of Aagrah restaurant appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire

    Yorkshire based Aagrah Restaurant Group Managing Director, Mohammed Aslam, MBE, DL, has been appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant for the County of West Yorkshire.  He will assist the Lord Lieutenant, Dr Ingrid Roscoe, who represents HM The Queen in the execution of her duties in the County.

    Mr Aslam has been at the helm of the successful family business for nearly four decades. There will be a number of events where the Lord Lieutenant is unavailable and he will attend in her place

    “I will do whatever is required of me,” he said. “I’m very honoured to be offered this opportunity to further help the community.” “From a business point of view, we like to support the communities in which we work and this is an opportunity for me to do something further for the people around West Yorkshire.”

    Aagrah Restaurant Group was setup by Group Chairman, Mohammed Sabir,MBE, Dbs, in 1977.  It is an independent family business with 14 sites throughout Yorkshire. The company is UK and Europe’s largest Kashmiri Restaurant chain. Mr Aslam has worked with both community and industry initiatives such as schools and colleges to inspire and promote the industry and region.  He also developed the national South Asian Chef Competition to recognise and reward talent from the hospitality sector.

    His passion for food has led to both national and international recognition over the years, boasting not one, but two, International UK Chefs of the Year awards. Mohammed Aslam was also awarded with a Special Recognition accolade at the British Curry Awards 2013 by Prime Minster David Cameron. The prestigious award acknowledges his significant contributions to services to industry. The 2000 strong audience gave a rapturous standing ovation to Mohammed Aslam in appreciation of his commitment and dedication.

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