Head of Drug Interventions at Her Majesty Prison Birmingham Charanjit Mehat and Founder of National Halal Centres, Hafiz Muhammad Yaqoob, were amongst the delighted winners, scooping top honours at this year’s Lloyds TSB Central Jewel Awards.
The prestigious event, now in its fifth year, was held on Saturday 14th July 2007 at the NEC, Hilton and played host to the cream of the Asian community from in and around the region. The awards are held to celebrate the huge impact of British Asians in both the public and private sector and will reinforce Central England’s reputation as a hub of the UK’s Asian economy. Estimates are that over 200,000 Asian firms exist in the UK, many of which are based in the Midlands and across Central England.
Seven coveted Jewel Awards were announced for Business & Commerce Excellence; Entrepreneur Excellence; Healthcare & Education Excellence; Professional Excellence; Public Service Excellence; Retail Food & Franchise Excellence; and the coveted Lifetime Achievement Jewel Award. This year’s winners are:
Business & Commerce Excellence Jewel Award: Mohammed Iqbal
Mohammed Iqbal’s career in retail began in 1989 with Topps Tiles, progressing to Retail Operations Director. He now runs his own business, Tile Giant, which he acquired just over 3 years ago with 2 stores, and is now trading with 29 stores, with a further 11 stores planned over the next 9 months. This has created over 100 jobs throughout the business. Through Tile Giant and its employees, Mohammed has started a foundation charity to sponsor an orphanage in Kashmir so he can provide a better environment and a brighter future for these children. He is also a Director of the Minority Business Association and actively tries to mentor and encourage young people to set up in business.
Entrepreneur Excellence Jewel Award: Waseem Saddique
Waseem Saddique started on the road to success in 1996, with the opening of mobile phone retailer Mobile Connections, a part of the EverPlus Group, in the Bordesley Green area of Birmingham. The success of Mobile Connections led it to quickly double in size, and this growth continues today, with a turnover of £39m generated in 2006/07. Today, Waseem remains at the helm of the group, overlooking its continued expansion, consolidation and diversification. He has developed an organisation which had a combined turnover in 2006/07 of over £74m, and which, even more impressively, has at least doubled its turnover year on year since its creation. This growth looks set to continue, with turnover forecast for 2007/08 at over £150m.
Healthcare & Education Excellence Jewel Award: Asha Khemka
Asha`s story is truly unique and an example of determination, commitment and passion for lifelong learning, culminating in great success and achievements not just for herself, but also for others around her. She was born and brought up in a small village in India. She got married at the age of 15, was a full-time housewife for 20 years and had little opportunity for formal education. Within the space of 20 years, she has gone from being a mature student to becoming the Principal and Chief Executive of West Nottinghamshire College, which is one of the biggest colleges in Europe with 20,000 students and 1,200 staff. Asha is one of the only 2 female Asian principals in the UK today.
Professional Excellence Jewel Award: Iftkhar Ahmed
Iftkhar joined Eversheds in 1991 as a trainee solicitor after completing his Law Society finals at The College of Law, London. He is now an equity partner in the firm’s real estate department – the largest real estate department in the UK. Iftkhar leads major corporate business and has considerable experience on a wide range of commercial property work from portfolio management through to investment and development work. He has acted and led on some of the largest and most significant property transactions in the country including acting as lead advisor on the £2 billion plus securitisation of Mitchells & Butlers Plc’s pub/hotel portfolio and on Mitchells & Butlers acquisition of 239 properties from Whitbread Group for £500 million.
Public Service Excellence Jewel Award: Charanjit Mehat
Charanjit was promoted to Healthcare Senior Officer at HMP Moorlands in Doncaster in 1999. She then gained promotion to the rank of Healthcare Principal Officer (the highest uniformed rank within the Prison Service) at HMP Birmingham in 2002. Since her arrival at HPM Birmingham she has gained promotion to the Governor grades and has managed two remand wings and is currently Head of Drug Interventions. Charanjit is the first Asian female to get to Governor grade through the ranks. As an only child she had the sole responsibility of looking after her late mother and late grandmother and two young children, whilst maintaining a successful career in the prison service.
Retail Food & Franchise Excellence Jewel Award: Shelim Hussain MBE
Since finding a niche in the food market, and selling his first box of frozen prawns in January 1993, Shelim Hussain MBE has strived to make it his own and over the past 14 years, has worked tirelessly to make a name for himself as one of the most talented entrepreneurs in the UK. As Chairman of the Eurofoods Group he has become a respected businessman both within the Bangladeshi Community and also within the UK Business Community mainly due to his acute commercial acumen and sensitive approach to business. This has been recognised by numerous awards and honours, including an MBE for service to business in Wales. With the addition of factories in Bangladesh and the chicken processing plant in Newport, Eurofoods Group now employs around 2000 people – quite a significant achievement from someone who started selling prawns from the back of his car.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Hafiz Muhammad Yaqoob
When Hafiz Muhammad Yaqoob left Pakistan more than 50 years ago little did he know that he would become the pioneer of the Halal food industry in UK and Europe. He was the first British Muslim businessman to set up in Birmingham Wholesale Market, selling Halal products nationwide, establishing Halal abattoirs, serving the community for over 41 years through the wholesale and export industry. In 1995 he created retail outlets, known as ‘National Halal Centres,’ which have now been recognised by leading supermarkets. The first concession opened within Tesco Extra store in Slough – a historical breakthrough for a small British Muslim Company. He has also served the community by being the Founder Trustee of Birmingham Central Mosque and contributed to many charities over the years.
The Lloyds TSB Central Jewel Awards was the second of three glittering award ceremonies celebrating and congratulating the achievements of the movers and shakers of UK Asian enterprise, with the final event, Lloyds TSB Southern Jewel Awards, taking place on 15th September 2007 at Hilton Park Lane, London.
Truett Tate, Group Executive Director, Wholesale & International Banking, Lloyds TSB, said: “The success story of Britain’s Asian community continues to be unabated. Year after year, the shortlist for the Lloyds TSB Jewel Awards showcases an incredible array of talent and this year is no exception.
“Through the Lloyds TSB Jewel Awards we want to demonstrate the achievements of the community across the public and private sector. But that is just the start. We have established ourselves as a bank that is dedicated to serving Britain’s communities. Our Islamic financial products and our India Banking Service are just two examples of initiatives we have launched to cater for the needs of our increasingly diverse population.”