By Kamal Pankhania
Westcombe Group had the great privilege of supporting and attending GG2’s Diversity and Leadership Awards on 7th March. It was a fantastic evening which featured many inspiring speakers and leaders winning recognition of their successes.
The event showcased some of the finest examples of leadership in business and society from all sections and communities in Britain. For instance, Corporal Hari Budha Magar won the GG2 Achievement Through Adversity Award, an Afghanistan veteran who was injured in service for the British Army’s Gurkha regiment, and has since been the first double amputee to trek to Everest Base Camp and scale mountains in Nepal and Western Europe. Lawyer Ayesha Vardag was honoured as GG2 Woman of the Year, and gave an impassioned speech in which she celebrated her dual British and Pushtan identity.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak MP won the coveted GG2 Hammer Award for smashing through the ultimate glass ceiling by becoming the UK’s first prime minister of Asian heritage. Although unfortunately he was unable to make the event, Energy Secretary Grant Shapps was able to accept the award on his behalf and make a speech championing diversity in the UK.
The evening saw a fascinating panel chaired by the event’s master of ceremonies, LBC host Sangita Myska, in which Labour MP Dawn Butler, MPC Member Swati Dhingra, and judge Anuja Dhir KC discussed women of colour achieving success and how there is still much progress to be done.
The evening also saw the launch of the 2023 GG2 Power List 101 most influential British Asians. This year’s list was topped by the UK’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak MP, and featured 101 inspiring figures from across business, charity, politics, science, music, law and more.
Just in time for International Women’s Day, the list reflected the progress that Asian women are making in many areas of British life. Figures such as Justice Dam Bobbie Cheema-Grubb, entertainment star Simone Ashley and business leaders Leena Nair, Global CEO of French luxury brand Chanel were represented. It is truly humbling to be associated with such impressive and successful women.
We were humbled that Vraj Pankhania, my father and the founder of the Westcombe Group and the Westcombe Foundation, was recognised and included on the list for his success in founding and growing the business and his philanthropy to support vulnerable people across the world over the decades.
It was a wonderful evening celebrating the best of British diversity, and applauding fundraising efforts. There was also a collection for Save The Children’s appeal to help those affected by the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey, representatives from the UK’s armed forces were in attendance, sponsoring awards and promoting their diversity recruiting programmes.
The best of Britain’s key workers were celebrated with awards recognising the fire service, NHS and police force, with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, Humberside Police and Northwest Anglia NHS Foundation Trust deservedly winning recognition.
A very many thanks to Asian Media Group and to Shailesh and Kalpesh Solanki for hosting us. It was a truly inspirational evening that showcased the very best of multicultural Britain, and we at Westcombe feel re-energised to continue to keep playing our part.