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Malorie Blackman named as 'most influential' black person

INFLUENTIAL: Malorie Blackman (PA)

CHILDREN'S AUTHOR Malorie Blackman has been named as Britain’s most influential black person in a new powerlist.

The literacy campaigner and current Children's Laureate took top position in Powerful Media’s seventh annual edition of The Powerlist: Britain’s 100 Most Influential Black People.

Born in London in 1962, Blackman published her first book at the age of 28 and is the first author to head the list.

She has written over 60 books for children and young adults, often addressing issues which resonate powerfully with her readers, such as organ transplant in Pig-Heart Boy and race relations in the Noughts & Crosses series.

In June 2013, she started a two-year appointment as the new Children’s Laureate and has actively advocated for a “more inclusive society” and spoken out against library closures.

Speaking about being named as the country's most influential black person, she said: “I am deeply honoured to be chosen as number one on the Powerlist, which highlights so many black people in such diverse spheres.

"[It] is such an inspiring thing.

“It challenges stereotypes and shows that many people are achieving great things. It’s a fantastic showcase of the amazing success stories that often go unreported. It’s a real honour to be among such company.”

Ken Olisa took second place in the Powerlist 2014 - he runs his own boutique technology merchant bank, Restoration Partners, and is a non-executive director at Thomson Reuters.

This year he led the flotation of Outsourcery on the London AIM exchange, raising £13m and achieving a market cap of £40m as the first technology IPO in London.

His philanthropy work has included a £2m donation to a new library at Fitzgerald College, Cambridge.

In third position is Matthew Ryder, one of the UK’s leading criminal, public law and human rights barristers, who has represented several witnesses in the Leveson Inquiry, as well as many journalists and others under investigation.

The list, which was launched at a star-studded central London event, was selected by an independent panel, chaired by Vivian Hunt, a director at McKinsey & Co.

Nominees must be of African or African Caribbean heritage, born or living in the UK, and are selected on the basis of their "ability to alter events and change lives" at the very highest level.

The top ten for 2014 also includes a financial adviser, a CEO, two MPs, a barrister, an Olympic athlete, an artist and film director, an actor, a civil rights campaigner and a space scientist.

The rest of the list covers a wide range of professions - from engineers to investment bankers.

Introducing the list, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "I want the UK to be a land of opportunity.

“A land where anyone, regardless of their race, faith or background can make it to the top of every aspect of life".

He added: “Role models - many of whom appear in the pages of this publication - play a huge part in this.

"Their stories inspire and enthuse younger generations into emulating and even surpassing the achievements of those they admire.”

The Powerlist was first established in 2007 and is the brainchild of the then New Nation newspaper editor Michael Eboda, who later established the Powerful Media Publishing company.

Eboda said: “The Powerlist provides 100 role models for young people from across a wide range of fields of achievement.

“It is sent to schools across the country so that pupils can see successful people from backgrounds similar to theirs, who have achieved at the highest level. It breaks down a lot of stereotypes.”

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