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New Year’s honour for friend of slain teenager Jesse James

PROUD: Akeim Mundell has been awarded a British Empire Medal

COMMUNITY STALWART Akeim Mundell was understandably devastated when his friend Jessie James was shot in 2007, but it didn’t stop his quest to bring hope for hundreds of other young people.

And now the inspiring Moss Side champion has been honoured with a British Empire Medal for his service to the community.

Akeim, who lives in nearby Whalley Range, was just 16 when he lost his friend, but he has strived ever since to help others. He also runs an online group called Manchester Job Opportunities, offering local jobs to 17,000 members, with more than 200 in work as a result.

Akeim, who is also a youth mentor for youth group Community on Solid Ground, works full time as a teaching assistant at St Mary’s Pri- mary School in Moss Side – his own former school – and runs workshops to help young people build their CVs.

He said: “I mentor those who may have gone down the wrong path. It started when my friend was murdered. Knife crime started creeping even higher, and my friends started going down the wrong paths.

COMMUNITIES

“I decided to create communities for young people and started working with the council and police to give them somewhere to go, a safe environment.”

Akeim added: “I’m very shocked to be honoured this way, I wasn’t expecting it at all. But I’m really honoured and proud. Although I don’t do what I do for recognition, it’s still given me a good feeling.”

A local resident used social media to congratulate him on his award, saying: “Akeim, you are a truly inspirational young man. “When all the gangs were fighting and killing each other in those earlier days, you decided that this was not for you and chose to take the right path. Most of the residents of Moss Side are good people and just a minority were bad.

“To get young men and girls to go down your path – you deserve the medal.” The gunman who shot dead James in Moss Side has never been identified and it is one of the highest- profile unsolved murders in Manchester’s criminal history.

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