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Winners have been announced for the 2011 Fusion Awards, a hugely popular annual event celebrating community heroes from all walks of life across the North West.
The Fusion Awards aim to reward the endeavours of people who make a real difference to the lives of those around them.
The Blackburn with Darwen Council Community Cohesion Award went to Morecambe-based Magdalena Stryjewska for her voluntary work challenging stereotypes about the Polish community in her town. Magda has also helped local service providers including the Fire Service to reach out to the Polish-speaking community. She said: "This is a really big honour for me and I'd like to thank the Fusion Awards on behalf of the entire Polish community in the North West."
Carter Law Solicitors Man of the Year was awarded to Oldham-based school educator Nanu Miah, who has worked tirelessly over the past two decades to help make his community safe and crime-free as well as standing up against racism. Accepting his award with a heart-felt speech, Nanu said that "every time we fail on a brief intervention, we are denying someone the opportunity for change."
The BAE Systems Woman of the Year Award was announced as a dead heat, with the award going jointly to Rifat Saleem and Wendy Smith. Rifat, a grandmother from Hale Barns in South Manchester, walked Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland to raise thousands of pounds for the Seashell Trust Special School Project. Wendy, a Clitheroe community worker, is a committed champion of women across the North West region, particularly through Women's Voice in Blackburn, and a fund-raiser for several disability charities.
The Twin Valley Homes Community Group of the Year Award went to The Abaseen Foundation UK in Lancaster, a group of health professionals led by Helen and William Bingley whose aim is to improve the health and welfare of people in poorer parts of North Western Pakistan. The Foundation used their acceptance speech to thank all their volunteers across the North West.
Preston woman Rabiya Ahmed won the Lancashire Constabulary Youth Leadership Award. Rabiya runs a female football team locally and works hard to challenge stereotypes and prejudices about young people.
The Enterprise4All Ltd Entrepreneur of the Year Award went to Preston-based Safiya Hussain, 27, who after appealing against a legally invalid parking fine spotted a gap in the market and set up noparkingticket.com, the UK's first specialist parking fine advisory company. Safiya said: "It's very difficult setting up a business on your own so I'm really honoured to receive this award."
Blackburn College BTec interior design student Raeesa Jangaria, who has also been studying Islamic theology in her free time for several years, was presented with the Bolton University Education Achievement Award.
Bespoke cake maker Zaris Creations, based in Blackburn, was named Enterprise4All Food Business of the Year. Zaris offer a complete occasion cake service catering for all dietary requirements.
Blackburn teenager Shannon Doherty, the eldest of eight siblings, was named Twin Valley Homes Young Neighbourhood Champion in recognition of her family responsibilities as well as the excellent role model she is in her local youth club.
The awards were presented at a glittering awards ceremony at the Premier Suite, Blackburn Rovers Football Club, Ewood Park, Blackburn on 21st May, where the evening's entertainment included the Fusion Dancers, an Asian bagpipe band, comedian Kevin Sherwani and no less than three catwalk shows.
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