COMMUNITY HERO: Nana Abrah Nyarko
AS RIOTERS went on a rampage destroying buildings and looting in Croydon, Surrey during the August 2011 unrest, bus controller Nana Abrah Nyarko made valiant patrols of a bus station.
He not only ensured bus drivers and passengers were safe but on the night of August 8, walked from one length of the Croydon bus station to the other, doing what he could to make sure rioters did not ransack or set the place on fire.
The Ghanaian-born father-of-two has now been honoured in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list with a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his selfless act and his years of service to London buses.
But the controller, who has worked at Croydon Bus Station since 2004, while being pleasantly surprised, remains humble.
“I was just doing my job,” he told The Voice. “So I was so surprised to get that letter [notifying him of his MBE]. I said ‘Oh that is nice to be recognised for the job that we do’.”
Nyarko, who said he had to read the letter three times, added: “I was just following procedure but in a way I am proud of myself…I love my job.”
Others who will be honoured include Trinidadian-born music promoter Wilfred Walker, who is receiving a CBE for services to live black music and consultant paediatrician Dr Nellie Adjaye, from Ghana, who is getting an MBE for services to child health and protection.
Cassa Pancho, artistic director and founder of the dance company Ballet Black, is getting an MBE for services to ballet. The half British, half Trinidadian classic dancer set up the organisation in 2001 to create opportunities for dancers of black and Asian descent.
She said: "I am delighted and very surprised to receive this honour. I don't really see it as a solo achievement, but rather an acknowledgment of what Ballet Black has achieved over the past twelve years. It has always been very much a team effort."
Also being honoured is Jamaican-born award-winning playwright Patricia Cumper, former director of Talawa – the UK’s premier black theatre company – for services to black British theatre.