Britain's Indian-origin Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has been named winner of the first-ever Queen Elizabeth II Woman of the Year award at a ceremony in London.
The 42-year-old barrister, who was appointed to the Cabinet earlier this month by UK Prime Minister Liz Truss, said it was the "honour of her life" to take on the new role at the Asian Achievers Awards (AAA) 2022 ceremony, dedicated to the memory of the late monarch who passed away recently.
Braverman, who is the London-born daughter of Tamil mother Uma and Goan-origin father Christie Fernandes, sent a recorded message to the ceremony where her parents collected the award on her behalf.
"My mum and dad came to this country from Kenya and Mauritius in the 1960s," said Braverman in her message. "They've been proud members of our Asian community, and I was born in Wembley, the heart of the Asian community, and to be elected to serve in the UK Parliament and now to serve our phenomenal and amazing and welcoming country as Home Secretary is the honour of my life. I hope to do you proud," she added.
The awards, which are currently in their 20th year, honour people who have made contributions to the South Asian community in Britain.
Other Indian-origin winners across the different categories included broadcaster Naga Munchetty in the media category, chairman and CEO of celebrated visual effects firm DNEG Namit Malhotra in the Arts and Culture category, and Captain Harpreet Chandi in the Uniformed and Civil Service category for her solo expedition across the Antarctic to the South Pole earlier this year.
In recognition of his groundbreaking work in DNA sequencing, Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramanian was chosen "Professional of the Year," and Karenjeet Kaur Bains, the first female Sikh powerlifter to represent Britain internationally, was named "Sports Personality of the Year."
The CEO of an IT services company, Sherry Vaswani, was named "Entrepreneur of the Year," and restaurateur brothers Shamil and Kavi Thakrar, who founded the popular Dishoom chain of eateries, were chosen "Business Persons of the Year." Kartar Lalvani, the creator of the well-known health supplement company Vitabiotics in the UK, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
"The AAA will continue to be the platform to identify, recognise and support the innovators, visionaries and community giants that will build Britain and make the world a better place," said Pratik Dattani, Managing Director of EPG - the global advisory firm behind the awards founded in 2000 by Asian Business Publications Limited (ABPL).
More than 500 nominations were received for the 10 categories, according to the organisers, and judges then selected a shortlist that was equally split between male and female contenders.
The judging panel was composed of a diverse group of industry experts, including Bas Javid, a former deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Mayur Lakhani, a former president of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Sujata Bhatia, the chief operating officer of Monzo Bank, Bally Sagoo, a Welsh Assembly member, and Sandeep Virdee, artistic director of the Darbar Festival.
A charity auction conducted by celebrated author Lord Jeffery Archer raised around 100,000 pounds for the educational non-profit organisation Pardada Pardadi - which is focussed on girls' education in India.
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