Wednesday 23rd March 2016 marked the launch of the Myriad Foundation’s inaugural Community Champions Award ceremony at the auspicious grade II listed British Muslim Heritage Centre, celebrating and showcasing the charitable community achievements of secondary school students from around Greater Manchester.
One of the key aims for the Community Champions Award was to emphasise the importance of civic duty by rewarding students for their contribution and to encourage them to stay active members of society beyond their secondary education.
The award ceremony itself was a hotly contested event with a final shortlist of four schools; The Manchester Islamic High School for Girls, The Radclyffe School, Stockport Academy and The Kingsway School competing with each other by presenting to a carefully selected panel of independent judges; Robb Potts - Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Alanna Vine - a long serving respected local councillor from Cheadle, and Muhammed Bangi – Director of fundraising from the sponsoring charity Human Appeal International as well as a packed hall full of community workers and volunteers from a broad range of unique specialisms for the chance to be the Myriad Foundation’s Community Champion for 2016.
The presentations delivered by all four of the finalist schools were extremely impressive. Achievements ranged from raising vast amounts of money for local and international charitable causes, running IT classes for the elderly, visiting residents in care homes, interfaith activities and sponsoring the entire running of a school in East Africa. The judges really did have a tough decision to make. Whilst the judges deliberated, guests mingled and the young students from the schools took this as an opportunity to get to know one and other.
The judges all spoke about how impressed they were with all of the students, their presentations and how difficult it was to choose an eventual winner. They were truly awed by how much of a difference these young students were making to the lives of their local and international communities. It was nothing short of remarkable.
Special guests Julie Ward – European Member of Parliament and actor, Marc Anwar who plays businessman Sharif Nazir on Coronation Street took stage to give a few words about their experience and to hand medals and certificates to all of the participating students. Marc Anwar echoed the sentiments of the judges, expressing his delight at the range of charitable and community driven activities the schools were involved in. He urged the students to never lose this trait and to carry it on throughout their adult lives. Julie Ward spoke about the importance of youth in shaping adult life and how she often spoke to her parliamentary colleagues throughout Europe about how communities in Manchester support each other by working together which gained a massive rouse of a round of applause from the audience.
In the end, like any award ceremony, there can only be one eventual winner. As Julie Ward waited to hand the winning school the Myriad Foundation Community Champions Award 2016 plaque as well as a signed shirt from Manchester City star, Yaya Toure - who sent his apologies that he was sadly unable to attend due to international football duties with Ivory Coast, Marc Anwar slowly opened winners envelope and the name of the wining school was read; The Kingsway School had won and they received a well-deserved standing ovation and a resounding round of applause.