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Black Achievers' Awards make an impact in the East Midlands

PRIDE OF NOTTINGHAM: Award winners celebrate

IF YOU SEE something positive that needs doing, look around the community for help and do it.”

Those were the words of councillor Merlita Bryan following the recent Nottingham Black Achievers’ Awards, which continues to grow in size and influence since she pioneered it in 2011.

More than 300 people flocked to the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham for the ceremony that was hosted by comedian Curtis Walker. The winners across 15 categories included Jamahl Peterkin (Health Award), who despite being beset by sickle cell disease and a close bereavement, went on to gain a law degree while running his own business.

Simona Rose (Most Transformed Life) was honoured for overcoming a tragic personal relationship, and Pastor Joan Richards (Outstanding Parent) was awarded for her sterling work with youth.

Founder, councillor Merlita Bryan, 66, was inspired to launch the Awards following the 2011 riots which hit many major cities in the UK. Starting as Black Achieving Men, the awards grew as the sponsors saw its impact and became keen to be involved. Its supporters now include e.ON and Nottingham University, as well as many local businesses and community organisations.

She said: “As a city councillor for 10 years, I’ve seen so much negative energy and talk about young black people, especially lads. I thought it would be nice to have something uplifting for them to see and be part of. I also thought it was time that people who often do not get seen or heard got some recognition for their achievements.”

She added: “The event went so well. We’re so fortunate and thankful for the support we have, especially in this economic climate."

FOUNDATIONS

“We have great sponsors now but I cannot forget the owners of Caribbean Flavour, Dad’s Kitchen, Jamaica Ways and others who donated food for the first ceremony. We wouldn’t have got this far without them.

“Nottingham is really moving on and I can see that our young people are realising that life is about working hard consistently, staying out of trouble and laying foundations for our children, not following nega- tive images on TV and in celebrity culture.”

Next year’s event will take place in October and could be expanded to recognise black achievers in nearby Derby and Leicester to become a full East Midlands celebration.

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