Community workers, volunteers and health professionals were among those honoured at the 1V Awards.

The ninth One Voice Annual Dinner, celebrating the charity’s 10th anniversary took place on Saturday at King George’s Hall. It turned out to be an emotional night as the group commemorated all those who had lost their lives in the past 18 months.

All 400 guests in the Concert Hall stood to welcome the mother and sister of murdered student Aya Hachem. The newly named Aya Hachem Young Person of the year was presented by Aya’s mother Samar Salame who told the audience how the support of all communities in Blackburn had helped the family through their darkest hours.

She said: “I am really proud that you have chosen to name an award after my daughter Aya Hachem. She would have really liked this gesture.”

The Aya Hachem Young Person of the Year award was won by Muhammad Bapu, who said: “‘I am absolutely delighted and very proud that it’s a local award from people who are working with me, and know me, and that makes it even more important.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Guests stand as the mother and sister of murdered student Aya Hachem take to the stage

The guests watched a touching commemoration video which included messages from those who had lost loved ones in the last 18 months during the pandemic.

It included a tribute to One Voice Communication Lead and Lancashire Telegraph and Asian Image writer Umbreen Ali who sadly died aged 45 last December following treatment for a rare form of cancer.

The dinner was hosted by 14-year-old Witton Park Academy student Sara Hussain and Pleckgate High School student, Shahida Hafeji, 13, with keynote speeches from Dr Fazal Dad, Principal of Blackburn College, the Director of NHSBT (NHS Blood and Transplant) Anthony Clarkson, and council leader Mohammed Khan. 

There was also a performance by BANNED Cohesion pop group.

The Group of the Year award was won by Benefit Mankind, sponsored by Together Housing, for their work through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Accepting the award, Dr Abdussamad Mulla said: “This is a big team effort from a variety of volunteers. May Allah (God) give us strength to continue the good work with other partners and agencies."

Tinta Ali, who was awarded the Man of the Year, sponsored by HPA Solicitors, expressed his delight at winning the award. He said: “I really didn’t expect this. I can’t believe it. Blackburn and the people of Blackburn are my family, a very big family."

Watch Tinta Ali as he accepts his award where he tells the audience he did not like Blackburn when he first visited!

The Woman of the Year award, sponsored by Heritage Fund, went to Danni Whitehead for her work with providing hygiene products to those in poverty and setting up an animal rescue centre.

She said: “This award isn’t just for me, it’s all those people who have supported my efforts in alleviating hygiene poverty in the local area.”

The awards culminated in the John Roberts Outstanding Achievement Award, which was presented to Professor Dominic Harrison for his exceptional work during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He said: “Thank you to all at One Voice Blackburn for this award. This is my most important achievement as it has been given to me by the community in which I serve.

“There is no doubt that without the collective efforts of everyone from all of our local communities, we would have seen more deaths. I am very proud and honoured to have been the local Director of Public Health during this time and I am very grateful to you all for this wonderful award.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Woman of the year winner Danni Whitehead

The 1V Awards also featured the Mohammed Khan Leadership Award which was presented to Blackburn Muslim Burial Society.

Blackburn Muslim Burial Society Leader Imran Patel said: “We’re delighted to be recognised in this way. It means that we are doing something right which is ultimately of the utmost importance. 

"We are committed to continue working closely with the coroner, hospital trust, hospital mortuary, CCG, paramedics, registrars, cemetery, doctors, the police, the masjids and, most importantly, the community to improve the burial system and raise awareness of the needs of the Muslim community.” 

The Aya Hachem Young Person of the year award is announced

One Voice Chairman Abrar Hussain said: “What started as a small community gathering has now become a major civic event promoting diversity in the town, and we are immensely proud of that.

"This was our tenth anniversary celebration, but it was also a coming together of our local community after a challenging and often heart-breaking last 19 months.

"We would like to congratulate the winners and all of the nominees in the 1V Awards.”

The Annual Dinner was sponsored by Together Housing, Blackburn College, NHS Blood and Transplant, Humraaz Support Services and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.