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Published 28th Sep 2011

Life Time Achievement Award winner for 2011 Choon Dee

Tireless commitment and selfless contribution to the community have been celebrated at this year’s Tees Valley BME Achievement Awards.

Leading figures from the region’s black and minority ethnic communities gathered for the annual ceremony and dinner at Middlesbrough’s Thistle Hotel.

This year’s categories included youth, community, business, housing sector, woman of the year, public sector, education and a lifetime achievement award.

Winners included a Lifetime Achievement Award for Choon Dee Neoh and Business of the Year award for Akbar’s restaurant.

Martin Harvey, Community Regeneration Manager with Middlesbrough Council, accepted the Public Sector award on behalf of his team.

He said: “Our award is a tribute to the tireless hard work of staff and volunteers who work with local BME communities across Middlesbrough.

“These groups give the town its unique and tolerant character and I’m delighted to see that recognised in this way.”

BME Network Partnership Manager Idrees Rashid said: “The Tees Valley BME Achievement Awards provide a unique platform for minority ethnic communities to be recognised and honoured for their achievement and success in a number of different fields.”

“The members of the BME community play a pivotal role in the society today, contributing to social, economic and cultural progression of the Tees Valley region.

“These awards are a small gesture of thanks from the awards organisers to the many countless community champions for their hard work and effort, as well raising ambition and aspiration in future generations.”

Winners list

Youth – Individual Presented by Thomas Robinson

Junaid Iqbal has played a pivotal role in a number of different organisations, supporting the development of numerous youth projects. With a gift for IT and media this young volunteer has unselfishly dedicated hundreds of hours, volunteering to support the development and delivery of youth projects as a peer mentor.

Organisations which have greatly benefited as result of his voluntary work include Middlesbrough Council’s myplace initiative, Community Voice FM Radio and the BME Network.

Youth – Organisation Presented by Idrees Rashid

Ormesby Hall Cricket Club. The club uses the South Asian communities’ passion for cricket to create a platform where dreams come true for young people, aspirations are raised and a sense of community pride is created.

Community - individual

Dr Mohammed Shafiq has been a leading light in the Tees Valley community for well over a decade now, whether it’s a local community development project or International disaster emergency appeal.

During the catastrophic Kashmir earth quake in 2005 and the recent floods in Pakistan Dr Shafiq has been instrumental in co-ordination of the community to support relief efforts.

He has also led several medical expeditions to the affected regions taking a team of specialist doctors and consultants to carry out life saving operation and offering medical assistance.

Community – organisation

TeesFast FM Radio Ramadan developed a popular community platform accessed by more than 10,000 people from the Tees Valley region.

The self-funded project has evolved over the last decade into a bespoke media platform for the Muslim community during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

During this year’s broadcast the station raised more than £75,000 for local causes as well as developing international capital projects.

Woman of the Year

Amanah Khalid has been practising and promoting the concept of the ‘big society’ for many years.

As volunteer community organiser with a steel determination and the word “no” missing from her vocabulary she has managed to develop countless projects and initiatives which promote the empowerment of women, integration, healthy lifestyles and active citizenship.

Public sector

Middlesbrough Council’s Community Regeneration Team has more than 22% of its workforce from the BME community.

The team, with backing from dedicated Neighbourhood Managers and community workers, supports black, Asian, minority ethnic and refugee communities, both through the development of local groups and in social, cultural and religious activities.

Education Award

Middlesbrough College not only reflects the BME community but excels at the engagement of BME young learners, developing them into tomorrow’s engineers, doctors and business leaders.

The college is not only a catalyst for physical regeneration in Middlesbrough but leads an educational revolution with the BME community in mind.

Business – organisations

Akbar’s has established itself as one of most vibrant places to be as businesses fight for survival in the economic downturn.

Employing more 50 local BME staff and with another branch has opening to the north of the region, Akbar’s service skills and attention to detail ensure people flock there time after time.

Business – individuals

Nas Khan is an inspirational business leader representing the entrepreneurial spirit and ethics of hard work instilled by the pioneering first and second generations of economic migrants from south Asia.

After gaining his degree at Manchester University, he joined Jennings in 1984 as a sales executive, rising through the ranks to become Sales & Marketing Director in 1990. In 2005 he was appointed Managing Director.

Housing sector – Diversity Champion

Ronnie Harris As self-regulation becomes the way forward for housing associations, effective, strong leadership is pivotal in driving forward service excellence and positive outcomes for all communities.

Ronnie is a modest individual whose successful leadership has reaped excellent outcomes internally, recognised and respected amongst her peers.

Housing sector – organisations

Erimus Housing has continually supported and facilitated BME residents by providing the empowerment tools to facilitate change in making neighbourhoods safer and more cohesive.

Life Time Achievement Award for 2011

Choon Dee has been an active community volunteer since 1989 when she joined the Management Board of the North of England Chinese Association and has accumulated 1000s of hours of committed and enthusiastic volunteering ever since.

Some of Choon Dee’s volunteering credentials include: Chair of Tees Valley Chinese Community Centre; Management Board Stockton International Family Centre; Management Board Tees Valley Trust Ltd; Management Board Tees Valley Housing; Vice-secretary UK Federation of Chinese Schools; Chair Recreation & Culture UK Federation of Chinese Schools; Chair Stockton Black & Minority Ethnic Network; and, member of Teesside Women’s Multi-Ethnic Health & Health Care Forum.

Though Choon Dee actively and formally represents people from BME communities, she also plays an extensive role in bringing communities together by working with mainstream organisations and the statutory sector. Choon Dee has been a representative on Stockton’s LSP and Housing Board and has helped both BME and mainstream communities gain a greater understanding of each other – her work here has had a far-reaching impact on BME communities, particularly women from these communities, using more and more of the service provision; encouraging more people from the BME communities to engage in mainstream activity has also benefited service providers and allowed them to, where possible or necessary, change the way they deliver their services and able to maintain a dialogue for future change.

Useful links

BME Awards

BME Awards on Twitter






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