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Our evening at the National Diversity Awards

ALL SMILES: The Caribbean Social Forum’s Pamela Franklin, centre, collects her gong

ROLE MODELS and charities were honoured nationwide at the recent National Diversity Awards (NDAs) ceremony at the breathtaking Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, rewarding Britain’s most inspirational people for their fight against inequality.

Community heroes from across Britain gathered in the bustling city of Liverpool to celebrate the outstanding achievements of those who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion.

A record 22,000 nominations and votes were received this year, paying tribute to grassroots communities nationwide.

Microsoft and Direct Line Group were named joint headline sponsors alongside a host of brands supporting positive role models, community organisations and entrepreneurs from the LGBT, ethnic minority, age, gender, religion and disability communities.

Other sponsors included the British Army, Financial Ombudsman Service, MI5, Lush Spa Liverpool, GCHQ, The Open University, The Voice newspaper and Able magazine.

The evening was kicked off by NDAs founder Paul Sesay, who discussed the importance of the event. As passionately as ever, Sesay said:

“We have to be realistic about the amount of work that needs to be done for true inclusivity to take effect. The National Diversity Awards is a big step towards this happening, and in helping to recognise selfless pioneers and heroes that are fighting to dispel the notion that inclusion and diversity doesn’t work.

RECOGNITION: The night’s winners in all their glory

“If there is ever a time for people to band together to fight for justice, it is now.

“Discrimination is discrimination, no matter what background you come from. If enough people come together to influence change, then change can happen.”

The Voice UK winner Mo Adeniran presented the first award of the night to 12-year-old Joshua Beckford, a child prodigy who is recognised internationally in more than 90 countries for his extraordinary educational achievements.

H&M’s first hijab-wearing model, Mariah Idrissi, awarded ground-breaking children’s author Robyn Smart the gender accolade, and Trans*formation co-founder Emma Cusdin was named LGBT role model of the year for creating the UK’s largest professional networking organisation.

BAFTA award-winning actor Adam Deacon awarded Career Nuggets creator Morenike Ajayi the positive role model award for race, faith and religion, whilst Coralie Rose scooped the Entrepreneur of Excellence Award for using real and underrepresented people in commercial campaigns through her innovative company Road Casting.

The Childhood Tumor Trust was commended for raising awareness of neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1), and Reluctantly Brave was hailed by professional boxer Natasha Jonas for training young people to become strategists. Men Tell Health was applauded for being the only men-specific mental health organisation in the region of Teesside, and Elop was praised for supporting thousands of LGBT people across east London.

Caribbean Social Forum beat seven other competitors for the Race, Faith and Religion category and Activ8 Fitness Camp emerged as the winner of the Community Organisation Award (multi-strand) presented by former WBO champion Johnny Nelson.

After decades of supporting thousands of people with learning disabilities through the art of dance, Avril Hitman MBE received the prestigious lifetime achiever award.

Designed to highlight the country’s most inspirational and selfless people, the NDAs are supported by the likes of Stephen Fry, Sir Lenny Henry and Katie Piper among many.

Talk show host Graham Norton said:

“Promoting and celebrating diversity is close to my heart, which is why I am thrilled to support the National Diversity Awards.

“Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees – you all deserve to win!”


Positive Role Model for Age: Joshua Beckford

Positive Role Model for Disability: James Sutliff

Positive Role Model for Gender: Robyn Smart

Positive Role Model for LGBT: Emma Cusdin

Positive Role Model for Race, Faith & Religion: Morenike Ajayi

Community Organisation Award for Age: Reluctantly Brave

Community Organisation Award for Disability: Childhood Tumour Trust

Community Organisation Award for Gender: Men Tell Health

Community Organisation Award for LGBT: ELOP

Community Organisation Award for Race, Faith & Religion: Caribbean Social Forum

Community Organisation Award for Multi-strand: Activ8 Fitness Camp

Entrepreneur of Excellence: Coralie Rose

Celebrity of the Year: Adam Hills and Alex Brooker

Diverse Company: Royal Bank of Scotland

Lifetime Achiever: Avril Hitman BEM

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