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News article

Celebrating the incredible achievements of young Asians from Yorkshire

Published: 14 November 2022

  •   Featured
Picture of award winner with York St John University Vice Chancellor

Award winner Neil Bharat Patel with Vice Chancellor Professor Karen Bryan

Dubbed the YAYAs, the awards launched in 2020 to celebrate young people aged 16 to 30 of South Asian heritage who were born, are living or are working in Yorkshire, and have overcome barriers to progress. 

The YAYAs were founded by QED Foundation, a charity which improves the social and economic position of disadvantaged communities. QED worked with York St John University as headline partner to organise the awards.  

Aimed at rising stars who have overcome deprivation and disadvantage, or have broken down traditional barriers to progress, the YAYAs attracted scores of entries from across the county and highlighted many outstanding achievers. 

This year's awards ceremony was hosted by BBC TV and Radio Presenter and stand-up comedian, Noreen Khan, on 11 November at the Cedar Court Hotel in Bradford. 

Vice Chancellor Professor Karen Bryan attended the event with colleagues from York St John University. Rob Hickey, Chief Operating Officer said: 

“As always, we are delighted to sponsor the YAYAs and we’ve been truly inspired by this year’s entrants and winners. These awards recognise the remarkable achievements of some exceptional young people, and I was honoured and humbled to be part of the awarding panel. 

Software developer Neil Bharat Patel won the Young Achiever of the Year.    

Leeds-born Neil, who lives in Leicester, has Cerebral Palsy and is a wheelchair user. He overcame the challenges he faced through his health issues to gain a First Class Honours degree in Computer Science from the University of Bradford. 

He was a runner-up in the ‘Overcoming Life Obstacles’ category sponsored by the University of Bradford, but was chosen as the overall winner of the Young Achiever of the Year 2022. 

Adeeba Malik, deputy chief executive of the awards organisers, QED, who chaired the judging panel explained: “We normally pick the overall winner from the winners of the 11 individual categories but Neil was such an outstanding candidate that we decided he simply had to be our Young Achiever of the Year.” 

Adeeba said it also gave them the chance to recognise ‘another exceptional candidate’ Muhammad Waqar Ahmed – the winner of the same category. 

Neil, who works for Next, said his employers helped him to get where he wants to be and he encourages others to follow his lead. 

“I have overcome my challenges and I hope others can do the same and get to where they want to be,” he said. “I was very surprised to receive the award. I feel very happy and it has made me proud and my family proud. 

“I also think it will inspire others with disabilities to overcome challenges and life obstacles and to achieve more.” 

Muhammad Waqar Ahmed, who provides IT technical support at Leeds University, won the Overcoming Life Obstacles category sponsored by the University of Bradford. Muhammad’s disability, in terms of his height and growth, has posed challenges. 

Other winners included: 

Police officer Mehr Ahmar, who chose her career to help the community. Mehr won the Public Sector Category sponsored by the Home Office. 

Mariyah Kayat who, through a range of initiatives, is creating opportunities for women to be themselves, won the Arts and Creative Industries category sponsored by Science Media Museum. 

Aminah Ahmed, who is currently supporting international students through her role as a Student Engagement Assistant at the University of Leeds, won the Education category sponsored by People Cert. 

Habib Karimi, who couldn’t speak English when he arrived from Afghanistan in 2006, and has since graduated and become an Associate Investment Manager with Business Enterprise Fund, won the Private Sector category sponsored by Morrisons. 

Jawairiya Khan, who was determined to achieve her ambition to become a midwife despite the challenges of health issues and a financially disadvantaged childhood, won the School or College category sponsored by Bradford Council. 

Sahar Ijaz, who volunteers her time to help Asian women keep fit, won the Not-for-Profit Sector sponsored by Barnardo’s. 

Bingley restaurant owner, Yeasin Mohammed, who came to England in 2010 as a refugee asylum through United Nations, won the Young Entrepreneur category sponsored by MyLahore. 

Benji Chandra, an optometrist who works at Bradford Hospitals and York Hospitals and helps homeless people in Leeds through his voluntary work with Vision Care, won the Health/Mental Health and Healthcare category sponsored by the University of York. 

ITV Yorkshire viewers will recognise sports reporter and presenter, Arif Ahmed, of Leeds, who won the awards’ Media category, sponsored by LOCALIQ. 

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