Muslim women’s rights campaigner Akeela Ahmed among Asians recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

By Lauren Codling and Sarwar Alam

LEADING campaigners, community leaders, civil servants and entrepreneurs are among Asians honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, announced this evening (8).

In total, 1,057 people have received an award, with 10 per cent of the successful candidates coming from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) background.

Those who have been awarded a CBE (Commanders of the order of the British empire) include:

  • Professor Bashir Mohammed Al-Hashimi, professor of computer engineering at the University of Southampton, for services to computer engineering and industry
  • Professor Jaswinder Singh Bamrah, consultant psychiatrist for the Greater Manchester mental health NHS trust, for services to mental health, diversity and the NHS
  • Lubaina Himid, an artist, for services to art

Among those recognised with an OBE (Officers of the Order of the British Empire) are Akeela Ahmed, for her work with Muslim women as the founder of the She Speaks, We Hear charity; Pradip Khodidas Dhamecha, the CEO of Dhamecha Group, for services to exports, economic growth and philanthropy and Dhruv Patel, 34, for voluntary service to the British Hindu community and social cohesion.

Ahmed set up her charity four years ago as a platform to enable Muslim women to own their own story, without any cultural filters. It has attracted 3,000 followers.

“I’m still in shock at receiving this honour,” Ahmed told Eastern Eye. “I am here for my work with women, particular Muslim women. I set up She Speaks, We Hear as a platform for Muslim women because I was fed up with the way they were portrayed in the media. They were always spoken for and we never really got to hear their authentic voices.”

Ahmed also works as a campaigner against anti-Muslim hatred and is the chair of the Independent Members of the Cross-Government Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group, acting as a link between the government and the community.

She said: “I’ve also been involved in campaigns to get marginalised Muslim women more involved in society. Last year we ran a campaign to get Muslim women to vote. With 100 years of the Suffragette movement, it was really important that women used this right was used. It had a great impact with many of our women giving interviews to the media. A lot of what we do is give a voice to Muslim women whose stories often go unheard.”

“The platform brings together a diverse range of women, not just Muslim women. To talk about anything they want – from parenting to politics – and it’s in their own voices. And through the platform we have managed to connect everyday change makers, in particular Muslim women, to the media.

“The women would often say to me ‘why would anyone in the media want to speak to me?’ ‘I don’t think I will be able to do it’. I think the encouragement and validation we give helps them talk through the radio, TV etc.”

Dhamecha, who features in Eastern Eye’s Asian Rich List, praised his family, friends and colleagues for supporting him “unconditionally”.

“I am immensely blessed to be surrounded by our wonderful family, friends and colleagues who give me so much love… that I am able to achieve so much personally and professionally,” he said. “I am truly blessed with aashirvads (blessings) from my parents, elders and spiritual leaders who guide me in my journey.”

Patel, who was an elected member of the City of London Corporation for five years when he served as chairman of the community and children’s services committee, said he was “humbled” by the honour.

“My focus has been on ensuring London’s young people have the best start to life, and all communities have the opportunity to thrive,” the businessman said. “While it is wonderful to receive this national honour, recognition cannot be the driver: sewa or selfless service is, and shall continue to be, a vital part of my life.”

Others awarded an OBE include Amandeep Madra for services to Punjabi and Sikh heritage and culture and Manoj Kumar Badale, the chair of the British Asian Trust, for services to the economy and charity.

Those awarded with an MBE honour include:

  • Roma Agrawal, associate director at AECOM for services to engineering
  • Satvir Paul Bungar, the managing director of mergers and acquisitions and head of facilities management sector at BDO LLP for services to corporate finance
  • Fakrul Alam Choudhury for services to the community of Oldham
  • Dr Sadhu-Ram Gupta for services to ophthalmology and charity in the UK and abroad
  • Maboob Hussain for services to West Yorkshire police and to charity
Roma Agrawal

Agrawal, who has worked on several major engineering projects, including the iconic Shard building in central London, said she was “surprised and delighted” to have received an MBE in the birthday honours.

“I truly love engineering and believe it’s a great career for young people to consider, so will continue to be an ambassador for our profession,” she told Eastern Eye.

GP Dr Hasmukh Shah was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the Hindu community in Cardiff. Dr Shah, who has been working in the NHS for almost 43 years, has devoted his life to helping those from a significantly deprived area of Wales.

Dr Hasmukh Shah

“I am truly humbled by this recognition and would like to dedicate this to my family, all my friends, colleagues and co-workers who help me in achieving so much for charitable causes,” Shah said on receiving the honour.

The GP is trustee of Sanatan Dharma Mandal & Hindu Community Centre Cardiff, Welsh Hearts, Race Council Cymru and The Mentor Ring, as well as being the chair for the Minor Ethnic Association for Ophthalmic Care (MEGAFOCUS) group

He is also the honorary secretary of British Association of Physicians of Indian origin which has contributed to the recruitment, retention and training of overseas trained doctors providing vital services to the NHS in Wales.

His charity, however, is not limited to the UK, but also extends to overseas deserving causes, and he has raised funds for school projects in India and an orphan project in Africa.

Dr Shah was awarded visiting Fellowship by the University of South Wales in April 2017 for his medical professional work, education and charitable work to people of Wales.

Other honours included the Queen’s Police Medal (QPM), which was awarded to Sergeant Abed Hussain from the Greater Manchester Police.

The honours system is open to all with around 3,000 nominations each year.

To nominate someone for an award, see


Order of the British Empire

Commanders of the Order of the British Empire

Professor Bashir Mohammed Ali AL-HASHIMI

Professor of Computer Engineering, University of Southampton. For services to Computer Engineering and Industry

Professor Jaswinder Singh BAMRAH

Consultant Psychiatrist, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust and Honorary Reader, University of Manchester. For services to Mental Health, Diversity and the NHS.

Ms Lubaina HIMID

MBE Artist. For services to Art

Order of the British Empire

Officers of the Order of the British Empire

Manoj Kumar BADALE

Chair, British Asian Trust. For services to the Economy and charity.

Sonia Kumari, Mrs BROOKS

Deputy Governor, HM Young Offenders Institution Feltham. For services to HM Prison Service and the Criminal Justice System.

Pargan Singh CHEEMA

Chief Executive, The Scottish Grocers’ Federation. For services to Business, Community Cohesion and charity.

Pradip Khodidas DHAMECHA

Chief Executive, Dhamecha Group. For services to Exports, Economic Growth and Philanthropy.

Nitesh GOR, DL

Founder and Chief Executive, Avanti Schools Trust. For services to Education.

Shahana, Mrs KHAN

For voluntary service to Healthcare and Social Housing in the West Midlands.

Pritpal Singh LANDA

Managing Director, DSL Group (Nottingham) Ltd. For services to Business, charity and the community in Nottingham.

Amandeep Singh MADRA

For services to Punjabi and Sikh Heritage and Culture

His Honour Riaz Hassan NAQVI

Resident Judge, Sovereign Base Area Cyprus. For services to Defence.

Alexander Mark NILESHWAR

Senior Professional, Special Projects Delivery Team. For services to Military Capability.

Dhruv Prashant PATEL

For voluntary service to the British Hindu community and Social Cohesion.

Kumar Sureshchandra RAVAL

Founder of Faith in Leadership. For services to Leadership Education and Inter-faith Cohesion.

Dr Ashok ROY

Clinical Lead, Learning Disabilities, Health Education England. For services to People with Learning Disabilities.

Dr Amarjit Kaur SAMRA

Director of Research, Medical Directorate. For services to Defence Medical Research.

Arjun Chainrai WANEY

Entrepreneur. For services to the Restaurant Industry.

Order of the British Empire Members of the Order of the British Empire


Associate Director, AECOM. For services to Engineering.

Ajaz Khowaj Quoram AHMED

Founder, AKQA. For services to Media.

Akeela, Mrs AHMED

Founder, She Speaks, We Hear. For services to Muslim Women.

Sarfraz ALI

President, Pakistan Association Liverpool. For services to Community Cohesion and Integration in Liverpool

Mahomed Farouk ALIMAHOMED

Chairman, Lesta Packaging plc. For services to Business, the community and Philanthropy.

Satvir Paul BUNGAR

Managing Director of Mergers and Acquisitions and Head of Facilities Management Sector, BDO LLP. For services to Corporate Finance.


For services to the community in Oldham.

Ms Mili Ranjit DOSHI

Dental Consultant, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. For services to NHS Dentistry.

Hemlata, Mrs GANDHI

Post Mistress, Risinghurst Post Office and General Store. For services to the Post Office and the community in Oxfordshire.

Dr Sadhu-Ram GUPTA

For services to Ophthalmology and charity in the UK and Abroad.


For services to West Yorkshire Police and to charity.

Mohammad IQBAL

For services to charity and community relations in Manchester

Mohammed ISHAQ

Director, The Punjab Kitchen Ltd. For services to Innovation and the Economy in Tyne and Wear

Nur-ur-Rahman KHANDAKER

For services to catering and the community in Pasha Khandaker Aylesford, Kent.


Learning Manager, Workers’ Educational Association. For services to the Education of Marginalised Women in Rochdale and Oldham.

Gargi, Mrs PATEL

Immigration Officer, Immigration Enforcement, Home Office. For services to Community Engagement and Immigration.

Dr Parameswara Venugopal PRASAD

General Practitioner, Panton Surgery, Holywell. For services to the community in Holywell.

Mohammed Mushtaq RAJ

Senior Executive Officer, Home Office. For services to Race Equality and Diversity and Inclusion.

Dr Rabindra Vishanka RATNASURIYA

General Practitioner, Lordswood Medical Group and Chair, Our Health Partnership. For services to General Practice in the West Midlands.

Ms Nabila SATTAR

For charitable and political services


Senior Lecturer, Adult Nursing, University of West London. For services to Opthalmology Nurse Training and Sickle Cell Awareness.

Dr Opinderjit Kaur TAKHAR

Director, Centre for Sikh and Punjabi Studies, University of Wolverhampton. For services to Higher Education and the community in Wolverhampton.

Alpana, Mrs TAYLOR

Choreographer. For services to South Asian Alpana Sengupta Dance.

Jagdev Singh VIRDEE

For services to statistics and the Sikh community.

Order of the British Empire

Medallist of the Order of the British Empire


Henna Artist. For services to the Beauty Industry.

Ms Yvette Suzanne DUVAL

BAME Mental Health Manager, Diverse Cymru. For services to the BAME community in Wales.

Michael Ebrahim JEEWA

For services to Asian People with Disabilities in London

Soorendra LINGIAH

Chair, Minority Ethnic Group for All, Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. For services to BAME Patients.

Dr Nishma MANEK

General Practitioner Trainee and Founder, Next Generation GP. For services to General Practitioner Leadership Development.


For services to Young People and the community in Peterborough.

Vijya, Mrs MEHTA

For services to Heritage in the Public Sector.

Ruxmani Thakorbhai, Mrs PATEL

Secretary, Krishna Temple. For charitable and voluntary services to the community in Bolton


Volunteer Nurse, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. For services to Organ Donation.

Abdul Aziz SARDAR

For services to the community in Tower Hamlets, London.

Dr Hasmukhlal Vadilal SHAH