Meet our Pride of Birmingham award winners Nazir Afzal, Lottie Frascina and Charlotte Aspley
Today we share the stories of three people who faced tremendous adversity and went above and beyond to help others. Nazir Afzal, Lottie Frascina and Charlotte Aspley are three of our Pride of Birmingham winners.
The event, in partnership with the TSB, took place last night (Monday March 7) at the Great Hall at the University of Birmingham. Over 40 celebrities attended the red carpet extravaganza to celebrate the city’s true heroes.
Each day this week, we’ll bring you stories of these remarkable people while sharing the journeys they traveled to the moment they received their well-deserved awards.
Read more –Complete list of all celebrities at the Pride of Birmingham awards
The Stephen Sutton Award
Charlotte Aspley has received the Stephen Sutton Prize, an award in memory of the brilliant young man who, faced with a diagnosis of incurable cancer, decided to make a difference for others by raising funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust. To date, over £5.5million has been raised in his name.
Stephen’s mother, Jane Sutton, was there to present the award and it was particularly moving as Charlotte was one of the first people to come forward to help Stephen in his difficult situation to help others facing cancer. Charlotte, 31 and from Lichfield, has a learning disability, visual impairment and Mosaic Down Syndrome.
She is a charitable fundraiser and disability rights activist who continually inspires others to see what they are achieving. During the lockdown, she ran her fifth marathon for Mencap and started a running and activity club to help people with learning disabilities get fit and healthy.
Jane said: “Charlotte was one of the first people to offer to help Stephen. Despite what she was going through she reached out to him and told him what can we do to get the fundraising started and she started to come up with ideas Stephen went to visit her at Shining Stars and came back to tell me about this amazing girl he had met and all the things she was doing, he said she was so enthusiastic and incredible.
“She’s amazing, it’s not just her job with Mencap and running. She has something about her that she wants to help people with complete disregard for any difficulties she has. Charlotte is a a true community champion, she has everything this award is about – caring, community and compassion – and that really sums up Charlotte.”
BirminghamLive editor Graeme Brown added: “There’s something special about the Stephen Sutton Award and to think it’s come full circle, for someone who helped Stephen at the start, it’s marvellous.”
Charlotte said: “It was amazing to receive my award, such an honour, especially since I knew Stephen.”
Lifetime Achievement Award
Nazir Afzal received the lifetime achievement award and said it meant more to him than receiving an OBE – but his work was far from done.
The Birmingham-born barrister became the UK’s first Muslim chief prosecutor and is known for his tireless work in the Rochdale case. He overcame racism and prejudice to become a powerful advocate for vulnerable and marginalized communities and fought for women’s rights and against forced marriage, female genital mutilation and so-called honor killings.
He does all this despite the risk to his own life, even being named on Al-Qaeda’s death list. He said that when he heard this news, he hugged his children and then continued to do what needed to be done.
After receiving his award, he said: “The fulfillment of a lifetime is a bit like saying goodbye, but that’s just the beginning for me. As long as Allah allows me to continue, I will. It feels like the most special award I’ve ever received, even more than my OBE, it means more.”
After presenting his award, comedian Adil Ray said: “What he has done is above his duty as chief prosecutor. It is a great achievement in itself. He could have just sat , but he stood up for what he believes in. He does it for the right reasons because he believes in justice. We need it now.”
The judges voted unanimously for Nazir to receive this award. EastEnders actor Nitin Ganatra OBE said: “I saw Nazir on TV and was a little impressed with him. There is a real dirty underbelly in our society and Nazir has taken that into account, but he has also seen the backlash of racism and he loves his children too. Every once in a while we have those people in the story who go above and beyond and set an example for all of us. You can list Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali and all those people and Nazir is a close runner there because he put his own stuff aside he risked his own family but that’s the dignity you got yourself with behave that sets an example for everyone.”
Marc Reeves, Reach plc Market Editor for Midlands & Wales, said: “Nazir is a very important figure in public life. He is a campaigner for justice but also a man of incredible integrity. He brings his experience of growing up in Small Heath. in the role he has as chief prosecutor in the north. The Rochdale case was extraordinary. The hatred that turned against him, he met with incredible dignity. He continues to speak rationally, with great force on matters of justice.He is an incredible son of Birmingham and I am very happy to see him receive this award.
Claire Steele, TSB Regional Director for Midlands and North Wales, said: “Putting yourself in danger is your choice. These death threats were real and have the integrity to say I will always do the right thing. thing, and in some I’m probably going to upset some people in my community, but I’m going to have the integrity to stand up for what I believe in and what’s right, and put your family at risk, that’s just unbelievable. person you want to aspire to be. What a brave man.
The price of the teenager of courage
Lottie Frascina, 12 and from Stratford-upon-Avon, has raised thousands for the hospital where she underwent life-saving brain surgery by documenting her recovery in a series of TikTok videos.
Lottie was rushed to Birmingham Children’s Hospital after a sinus infection spread to her brain causing five brain abscesses on her frontal lobe. Surgeons performed a craniotomy, removing part of his skull so the abscesses could be drained in a delicate eight-hour operation. She initially recovered well, but three weeks into her recovery in hospital doctors have warned she may need another operation.
That’s when Lottie launched her TikTok fundraising challenge to distract her from the prospect of yet another surgery. She pledged to post a video on the platform every day and within hours of her first post she had raised over £1,000 for the hospital’s charity.
Luckily, Lottie recovered without needing further surgery, but she continued to do her videos every day until she could go home. The uplifting film series shows his progress from his hospital bed to dancing around the ward.
After receiving her award, Lottie said: “I was so scared when I went on stage. Now I want to continue fundraising to buy a laser for the hospital. It costs £200,000 so I’m going Continue.”
Her award was presented by Olivia and Alex Bowen of Love Island, who have now pledged to support Lottie on her mission to buy more vital brain equipment. Olivia said: “Lottie is amazing. Social media can often be seen as a bad thing, but Lottie uses social media for the reason it should be there. She’s such a happy, confident and very inspiring girl. We’re going to help push Lottie to achieve her goal.”
Actress Claudia Jessie, who was one of the judges, added, “There’s a lot of cr** on social media and I think it’s really noble what she’s doing. She’s fantastic.”
Judge Claire Steele added: “Lottie has really been through the factory, having had brain surgery that saved her life and to distract herself, she did something proactive and positive while raising money for the ‘hospital.”
Read more – ‘All the nominees are amazing people’ – Birmingham Pride judges’ enthusiasm for this year’s event
Read more – ‘Emotional and heartwarming’ – Best bits of the Pride of Birmingham Awards
look – Event highlights on the Pride of Birmingham YouTube channel from Tuesday
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