Saturday, 18 June 2016

Nottingham Award Winners!

Some of Nottingham's recent award winners...


Many wonderful stories in the "Nottingham Post Heroes Awards 2016"


Amanda Ogelsby - NCT Driver of the Year, 2015
"Amanda has been a driver for Nottingham City Transport for 2.5 years and qualified for the Driver of the Year competition after winning the Seasonal Driver Award earlier in the year. Along with her fellow finalists – Terry Bell, Nick Hill and Gary Slater – Amanda was assessed by mystery travellers over a number of journeys, and had demonstrated exceptional driving skills, route knowledge and a consistently high level of customer service."

In recognition of Amanda's skills, the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Councillor Jackie Morris, has officially unveiled the ‘Amanda Ogelsby Bus’, naming bus 334 in honour of 27-year-old Amanda from Cotgrave.

Nottingham City Transport Marketing Manager, Anthony Carver-Smith commented that “Not only is [Amanda] an incredibly skillful driver with outstanding knowledge of many routes on our network, she’s also a very warm and friendly person who genuinely cares about the wellbeing of her passengers. She’s received several commendations from customers over the years, and she’s highly thought of by her managers and colleagues.”(link)

The Amanda Ogelsby Bus!


2016 Nursing Times Award Winners
The University of Nottingham’s School of Health Sciences has won its biggest ever number of awards at the 2016 Nursing Times Student Nurse Awards. As well as The School itself winning "Nurse Education Provider of the Year (Post-registration)", three of its students won in individual categories. Now in its 5th year, the 2016 event saw a record number of entries, with 163 finalists shortlisted and 17 winners.(link)

MSc Advanced Nursing student Aquiline Chivinge won the Learner of the Year: Post-registration.
Final year BSc Nursing student Craig Bell won the Student Nurse of the Year: Learning Disabilities.
Jodie Shaw, a final year Adult BSc Nursing student, won the award for Outstanding Contribution to Student Affairs

The UoN Medical School


Architect Laura Highton shortlisted for 2014 Rising Star Award
Laura Highton runs Purcell’s Nottingham studio, which she founded in January 2013. Since opening the studio, Highton has brought in 20 new projects, which was recognised by the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, which gave her its 2014 Rising Star Award.(link)

Restoration of Nottingham Castle is one of the projects Laura was invovled in


Chinook Sciences wins IET Innovation Award 2015
"The IET award for the year’s most outstanding innovation in Power and Energy recognises Chinook’s achievement in successfully developing and deploying the latest generation of its proprietary technology at a bio-energy plant in Oldbury, West Midlands."(link)

Chinook Sciences collect their award


Human Rights Lawyer Usha Sood wins lifetime achievement award
A lifetime achievement award was given to Nottingham based Human rights barrister Usha Sood at the 2016 Awards Evening of Nottingham Social Action Group Himmah.

Her biography at Trent Chambers comments that:

"Usha has always been at the heart of community matters across the Midlands and offers support to numerous charitable and public interest cases. She also combined this with an academic career as Senior Lecturer in Law at Nottingham Trent University.

Usha has numerous specialist areas including work on child abduction cases, dowry recovery, human rights, child and human trafficking, public law cases, and international family and civil law litigation."
Meanwhile, a Huffington Post interview (which you really should read in its entirety) goes into detail about a number of the cases that Usha has taken on.

Usha Sood


Jamal Sterrett - Young Creative of the Year 2015
Jamal, an 18-year-old student at New College Nottingham, was crowned ‘The Nottingham Young Creative of the Year’ - and also nabbed the prize for Graphic Design 16-18 year old category and top spot in the Dance category for the same age group (link)

You can see his graphic design poster here and an example of his dance here.

Jamal Sterrett and his award


Nottingham City Council takes 2015 Employee Benefits Prize
Nottingham City Council beat the likes of BMW, Arup and HSBC to win the 2015 Personnel Today Awards in the Employee Benefits category.

Nottingham City Council employs 7,000 staff and needed to deliver exceptional benefits to help attract, recruit, retain and develop talented employees; but at no cost to the Council. To do this the Council focused on : improving employee engagement and wellbeing to create an engaged and healthy workforce; making workplace savings to help reduce the budget shortfall; attracting, recruiting, developing and retaining talent; and increasing the number of 16 to 24-year-olds employed.

Achievements included substantial savings from annual leave purchase (more than £1.7 million in salary and NI savings since 2012) and the new Carplus scheme; and more than £730,000 in total savings in 2014 - while sickness levels have fallen by 10%. (link)

Nottingham Council also won an award for their Youth Employment Initiative, which has been adopted as a model of best practice for the Skills Funding />
Loxley House, Nottingham


Sheku Kanneh-Mason - Winner of BBC Young Musician 2016

Seventeen-year-old Sheku attends Trinity Catholic Comprehensive School in Nottingham. He holds the ABRSM Junior Scholarship to The Royal Academy of Music, where he studies cello with Ben Davies. Sheku plays in the Chineke! Orchestra, as well as the JRAM Symphony Orchestra. He plays chamber music with the Kanneh-Mason Piano Trio and the Ash String Trio(link)

Sheku Kanneh-Mason


Image Sources
Nottingham Castle, Amanda Ogelsby, UoN Medical School, Chinook Sciences, Jamal Sterrett, Loxley House, Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Talk : Muslims in Europe – Opportunities and Challenges

Prof Akbar Ahmed (Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, D.C and the former Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland) recently gave a talk at the University of Nottingham, in collaboration with Karimia Institute, entitled "Muslims in Europe – Opportunities and Challenges". In this talk, Prof Ahmed described the “quartet” of research projects he and his team had undertaken after 9/11 to examine the relationship between Islam and the West and offered some messages for minority and majority communities in the UK.

Project 1 : Asia
The first project visited Asia and found that the what disturbed Muslims most about the West was not its foreign policies but instead the way “the west humiliates Islam and distorts Islam”. They also found that people largely quoted Muhammed (PBUH) as their role model.

Prof Ahmed brought this information back to the US and told government that if it wanted to win hearts and minds these were some pointers on how to act.

Himalayas from Bangladesh

Project 2 : America
This project was undertaken some two years later and visited around US 75 cities and 100 mosques. Prof Ahmed pointed out that the US Muslim community was much less monolithic than that in the UK, and had a large proportion of African-American Muslims who were proud Muslims as well as being proud Americans.

A constant comment from the non-Muslims in the US was say that they did not really know who Muslims were, or much about them. They asked why Muslims preferred violence and would often ask Prof Ahmed “You are the first Muslim we have seen are they all like you? You seem very reasonable”

Wheat harvest in Idaho

Project 3 : Tribal Communities
Third study looked at 40 tribal communities from Morocco to the Balkans and beyond. Noting that there was very often a great deal of tension between the centre of the country and the tribal communities on its periphery. Prof Ahmed took the example of Waziristan, where the vast majority of drone strikes had taken place, and pointed out that central government as well as the west had been “hammering” these communities for a long time, with the result that young men there had seen nothing but war their whole lives. Whereas what was really needed was the investment in schools and water projects to bring these areas up to the same standards of infrastructure as the rest of the country.

Farmland in Morocco

Project 4 : Europe
Some 40 cities were visited in this study, from Edinburgh, to Medilla (the Spanish enclave on the Moroccan coast) to Xanthi, on the Greek-Turkish border. Prof Ahmed described how there had been three distinct phases of European interaction with Islam.

Wheat field near Essex

Europe Phase 1 : The Andalusian phase
Prof Ahmed described how the 8th century was a period in the “Golden Age” of Islam, where the library at Cordoba was the largest in Europe, with 600,000 books and when Muslim society held great regard for “ilm” (knowledge). This was also the time of scholars such as Averroes, who Thomas Aquinas and others simply called “The Commentator”.

Averroes, leaning on a laptop

Later, in Sicily, buildings such as the Palentine Chapel were built using a combination of Byzantine and Arab styles, with copious Arabic calligraphy [see this analysis by Prof Jeremy Johns]. Rulers such as Roger II of Sicily had Muslim bodyguards [and hired many Muslims and Greeks skilled in administration]. This era came to an end in 1492, with the reconquering of Spain by Christian forces which was followed by a period where the Church tried to create a more monolithic society (inquisition etc).

Palentine Chapel, Sicily

Europe Phase 2 – The Ottoman Empire.
Prof Ahmed stated that the Ottomans, blocked in the east by the Safavid [Persian] empire, began expanding westwards in to Eastern Europe and that this was often a cruel relationship and is what is in the minds of many eastern Europeans. Europe begins to look at Ottomans and says this is Islam – predatory, violent, coming here and as a conquering power.

The Prof then mentioned how the situation was more complex than this, with Polish Muslim Tartars being part of the Polish cavalry that arrived to protect Vienna in 1683.

Ottoman army outside Vienna

Europe Phase 3 : Colonisation and Immigration
Prof Ahmed suggested that there was a direct link from colonisation to immigration. Taking the examples of Britain in India and France in Algeria, Prof Ahmed suggested that the UK intended to mould Indian society whereas the French were focussed purely on suppression.

As evidence for this, the Prof mentioned the Macaulay Minute on Education in India which advocated funding a very western education system for the elites in India, with the long term goal of transforming the culture and worldview of the country.

In 1857 there was a violent Rebellion in India, which was put down equally harshly by the British. Prof Ahmed describes how the Muslim communities in India were asking themselves questions about their place in the sub-continent, especially as their Moghul empire was gone, their Emperor was in prison in Rangoon and their elites were no longer elite. Two main reactions emerged:

One was the emergence of the Deobandi movement, who felt that Islam was under threat and joined the mutineers.

The other was a movement by people like Syed Ahmed Khan who believed that Muslim society would not progress without the acquisition of western education and science and who sided with the British [although Khan also wrote a pamphlet blaming the British for causing the violence]. This movement resulted in colleges such as the Aligarh Muslim University, which aimed to provide students with a western technical education, combining faith with the ability to live in a pluralistic society.

Part of Aligarh University

Prof Ahmed’s message to the Muslim community in the UK was to consider the reality of living as Muslim Europeans – that they need to be much louder and clearer in rejecting any form of violence, with no “buts”. And this has to be done by the leaders, because the majority population is not convinced that Muslims are condemning violence enough.

The Prof added that Muslims need to stop living in cocoons; they need to bring something to the table; to learn about local cultures; to build on links of Muslim historical figures.

And Muslims needed to understand that the majority population have rights too, because of their history in the land.

Prof Ahmed’s message to the host community was that Europe needs to challenge, unequivocally, acts of racism. The continent does not have to look far back to see the warnings of what happens when racism is allowed unchecked. Furthermore, Prof Ahmed can see in his own country of Pakistan how the targeting of one minority can grow if not challenged into the targeting of another minority , then another.

Prof Ahmed added that the problem of the hostile media was something that needed to be resolved by the majority community, suggesting that constantly projecting a minority community in a negative light encourages violence and prejudice.

Related Content
Are you a Type 1 or Type 2 Person
Proof that activism works
Positive Muslim Stories
Some ideas for finding common ground with wider society

Image sources
Bangladesh, Idaho, Morocco, Essex, Averroes, Palatine, Vienna, Alagarh