• Sunday, April 14, 2024


Coronation of King Charles III: Teen cancer survivor, food writer to represent British Asians

Sahil Usman and Manju Malhi, who are among the 850 invitees to the ceremony, have done praise-worthy services for the community

Members of the military take part in a full overnight dress rehearsal of the Coronation Ceremony of Britain’s King Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort in London, Britain, May 3, 2023. (Photo: Reuters)

By: Nadeem Badshah

For the hundreds of guests at the event, Saturday (6) will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a day that they are unlikely to forget.

More than 850 people have received a special invitation to King Charles’ coronation at Westminster Abbey in London.

Over 450 recipients of the British Empire Medal have been invited. Among them is Sahil Usman, a teenage cancer survivor who was recognised for creating 300 hampers of essential goods for delivery to elderly people in his hometown of Blackburn, Lancashire, during the lockdown.

Sahil Usman

The 17-year-old, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2018, also spent his own money buying Christmas gifts, gloves, and hats for other patients on his ward at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. In addition, he coordinated a project designing presentations for delivery in schools to raise awareness of the impact of the disease on young people.

Sahil, who is travelling to London for the ceremony with his mother, said guests have been asked to be at the Abbey by 7am for the historic occasion. He is planning to do some shopping in the capital before returning home.

He told Eastern Eye: “Seeing the coronation is a moment in history. It’s not an everyday thing, it’s is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” But the A-level student admitted: “I am wearing a suit – I have to go and find one.”

The teenager has plenty of plans in the pipe-line to help those diagnosed with cancer and their families. “I have a Just Giving page which I am trying to promote, and I am writing a book raising awareness about cancer and mental health is-sues,” he said.

“It was a sudden thing, being rushed into hospital, we didn’t have essential items with us. So, I am also looking to do care packages for families and patients with cancer. Hospitals can keep it and give it to [patients] – a phone charger, blanket, water bottle, and a thermometer, which can be really costly.”

Sahil has been in royal company previously, having been invited to last summer’s Royal Garden party in Buckingham Palace, which was also attended by Charles, the then Prince of Wales, and his wife Camilla; as well as Prince Edward and his wife Sophie.

But he admitted he thought it was a hoax when he received an email inviting him to the coronation. “I was coming home from sixth form and my mum said I got an email from the King’s coronation. I didn’t believe it.
“When I saw the dates and more information only then I believed it.”

Another name on the guest list is Manju Malhi, a chef and food writer who received the British Empire Medal for her services to the community, including teaching her skills to older people during the pandemic through healthy cookery courses via Zoom video calls.

Manju Malhi

Malhi is resident chef for the Open Age charity which helps adults older than 50 years of age maintain an active life and learn new skills. She turned her kitchen into a cooking school and restaurant for members and staff.

On her outfit, the chef told Eastern Eye: “I know I have to wear a day dress and nothing too formal. So my friend, who is an independent designer called Geeta Handa, has offered to make something for me which is a fusion of Indian and British influences in a lovely happy blue. The hat is optional, but I will get a fascinator to go with the outfit which should work, and I do hope I do the costume justice on the day.”

She revealed she may take a pair of running shoes to ensure she gets to the coronation on time on public transport. “I have to check how to get to the Abbey on time, bright and early in the morning. [I will] Most probably go on local transport so if there’s room in my small handbag, I’ll take some running shoes, possibly.”

Malhi added: “On the day, I reckon I’ll be a little nervous but excited at the same time. After the coronation ceremony, I’ll go home and look back at an experience to remember and a day I will never forget.”


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