Awards for Luton's heroes of the pandemic

Recognising the wonderful way the community has come together to beat adversity

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 11:56 am
Updated Thursday, 16th September 2021, 11:59 am

Age Concern Luton was one of several charities recognised by the Jamia Islamia Ghousia Trust for its vital work during the pandemic.

Others included Discover Islam, Luton Register Office, the L&D Hospital, the Vale Cemetery, Beds Police and NOAH.

The prestigious crystal awards were presented at a gala event at Luton Hoo Walled Garden Conservatory, attended by numerous VIPs including Bedfordshire High Sheriff Eric Masih, MPs Rachel Hopkins and Sarah Owen, Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinboyuse and the Trade Minister to Pakistan Shafiq Shahzad.

From left: Trade Minister to Pakistan Shafiq Shahzad, Luton Mayor Cllr Mahmood Hussain, MP Sarah Owen, Imam Qazi Abdul Aziz Chishti and MP Rachel Hopkins

It was organised by the Trust and its Imam Qazi Abdul Aziz Chishti, who was given a special award and a standing ovation to mark not only his 40 years of hard work for the community, but also for risking his life - at the age of 73 - to ensure that funerals were carried out in accordance with tradition. This was in spite of the very real danger of catching Covid himself.

The Imam, however, was a very reluctant recipient, saying the awards were aimed at recognising others and the wonderful way the community had come together to beat adversity.

More than 400 people were at the ceremony which included a four-course dinner.

Age Concern Lutontrustee Bev Creagh, who accepted the award on behalf of the charity, said: “We should all be extremely proud of what we’ve achieved, in spite of the many setbacks and difficulties we’ve experienced. Our King Street office remained open as we reacted and revised our operational plans on a daily basis, rapidly becoming an emergency service.

“Throughout the past 18 months, we’ve provided service and support for around 12,000 senior citizens, representing almost half of Luton residents aged 65 and over. This more than double our usual number of 5,700.”

There were similar stories from other charities who have all gone above and beyond the line of duty to help those in need.