Scissor Sister favourite Ana Matronic united with TV presenter Brian Dowling to host the 07th annual National Diversity Awards on Friday 14th September.
Community organisations and role models from across the UK headed to the breathtaking Liverpool Anglican Cathedral on 14th September to witness the countries 2018 winners being crowned the best of British diversity.
A number of special guests made an appearance at the UK’s largest diversity awards to show their support for the incredible nominees who have changed the lives of many.
Hot on the heels from Celebrity Big Brother, Gabby Allen joined Love Island Favourite Samira Mighty to praise advocates and charities for their outstanding achievements. Scouse sensations Claire Sweeney, Jennifer Ellison and Marcus Collins also applauded this year’s nominees alongside the cast of Hollyoaks, Emmerdale and Coronation Street, in addition to The Gloves are Off presenter Johnny Nelson.
Sir Lenny Henry CBE, shortlisted nominee for the Celebrity of the Year gong said;
“Diversity to me means involving everybody without any discrimination; its means having integrated groups in society, it means fairness and total inclusion and that’s what the National Diversity Awards are about. Congratulations to everyone who has been nominated, you’re all doing a fantastic job, rock on!”
Leading global brand Johnson & Johnson were headline sponsors of the pioneering awards that have paid tribute to over 700 grass root charities and diversity champions since its inception.
Joining the likes of the Open University, Blackberry, The British Army, Direct Line Group, HSBC Nielsen, MI5, Lush Spa and the Financial Ombudsman, Johnson & Johnson are listed amongst a host of companies recognising diverse talent.
Clare Lee, Head of Human Resources, Great Britain & Ireland, Johnson & Johnson, said;
“At Johnson & Johnson, we are committed to the values of diversity and inclusion that encourage all employees to use their unique experiences and ideas to create a better, healthier world. We proudly join the National Diversity Awards as a Platinum and Lifetime Achiever Award sponsor. The Awards celebrate “unity” in society and a new generation of role models, and that diversity is about everyone’s unique perspective – all backgrounds, beliefs and range of human experiences – coming together. Through inclusion we create a deep sense of belonging, where people are valued, ideas are heard, and everyone can perform at their best. Johnson & Johnson believes that a strong diversity & inclusion strategy allows us to benefit from the opportunities presented by a diverse world. We are committed to excelling in this area because we know that to succeed, grow and innovate, we need our employee population to reflect the diversity of the world we serve.”
A record 24,584 people nominated this year alone with an astonishing 124 nominees being recognised for their various achievements nationwide. Amongst those being commended were the real stars of this show; freedom fighters, domestic violence campaigners and trans rights activists, all of whom work tirelessly to combat injustice without acknowledgement or praise.
The energy in the room was an intrinsically positive one, with each nominee being extremely supportive of each other. The evening was kicked off by founder of the NDA’s Paul Sesay, discussing the importance of the National Diversity Awards and what inspired him to create the ceremony.
“Each year we witness selfless work being carried out by community groups and role models who do not ask for the thanks and praise that they deserve”. Said Mr Sesay. “It is a privilege to recognise your bravery, resilience and courage.”
Soap stars Rishi Nair and Shelley King presented the first award of the night to community champion Abdul-Karim Abdullah, who has supported thousands of young people across the country to eliminate knife crime, gang crime and serious youth violence.
Rocking2Stomas blogger Rachel Jury was next to receiving a gong in the positive role model category, using her impressive following to shine a light on urostomy awareness. Recently, Rachel went to the beach in a bikini with her two stomas visible and wrote a Facebook post to remove stigma that garnered 40,000 views.
Former Real Housewives of Cheshire star Leanne Brown gifted autism isolation no more founder Rachael Pearson the gender accolade for converting her home into a sensory space for children and parents. Out & Proud African LGBTI (OPAL) founder and human rights activist Abbey Kiwanuka was named LGBT role model of the year for helping 86 LGBTI asylum seekers from all over Africa to secure refugee status in France, 70 in the Netherlands, and over 100 in the UK.
British sprinter Anyika Onuora and former professional rugby league footballer Ikram Butt awarded five time award winning sportswoman and cricket ambassador Salma Bi the positive role model award for race, faith and religion, whilst quadriplegic Geoff Holt MBE scooped the Entrepreneur of Excellence Award for founding Wetwheels, taking more than 5,000 disabled people on the water each year.
Another highlight of the evening came when actor Warwick Davis accepted the Celebrity of the Year Award for co-founding Little People UK, offering friendship and support to people with dwarfism. Mental health and well being charity Touchstone were presented with the Diverse Company Award and Strength With In Me Foundation were hailed for tackling domestic abuse and relationships using a combination of interactive workshops, debates and conferences.
ADHD Foundation were commended for changing attitudes and improving life chances through tireless campaigning, with their umbrella project attracting over 30 million media hits.
Action Breaks Silence were applauded for offering free self-defence training to over 50,000 women and girls at risk of gender-based violence, and Sail NI were praised for supporting over 300 transgender people and their families across the Northern Ireland.
Kick It Out, the UK’s Leading organisation campaigning for equality in football, beat seven other competitors for the Race, Faith & Religion category, and Radio Reverb emerged as the winner of the Community Organisation Award (Multi-strand) for broadcasting a host of diverse shows 24/7 to a listenership of 30,000.
After decades of supporting thousands of LGB&T people across Lancashire, Dr. Lewis Turner received the prestigious lifetime achiever award with a list of tremendous achievements being recongised by judges.
Jelli Studios, Gold Medallists at this year’s Dance World Cup, wowed the audience with an energetic performance portraying a powerful message. X factor runner up and West End star Marcus Collins also showcased his sensational vocals filling the dance floor with a wave of uplifted faces.
Designed to highlight the country’s most inspirational and selfless people, the NDA’s are supported by the likes of Stephen Fry, Adam Hills and Ade Adepitan MBE amongst many.
Talk show legend Graham Norton said “’Promoting and celebrating diversity is close to my heart, which is why I am thrilled to support The National Diversity Awards! Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees, you all deserve to win!”
The National Diversity Awards was a real feel-good ceremony, where each nominee had earned their right to be in attendance for their fantastic work in their specific community.
The Golden Globes of the diversity world was a wholeheartedness event refreshingly celebrated in such swanky style, that it was evident who were the stars of this show, the well-deserving, humble and extraordinary nominees.
The full list of winners is as follows:
Positive Role Model for Age: Abdul-Karim Abdullah
Positive Role Model for Disability: Rachel Jury
Positive Role Model for Gender: Rachael Pearson
Positive Role Model for LGBT: Abbey Kiwanuka
Positive Role Model for Race, Faith & Religion: Salma Bi
Community Organisation Award for Age: Strength Within Me Foundation
Community Organisation Award for Disability: ADHD Foundation Trust
Community Organisation Award for Gender: Action Breaks Silence
Community Organisation Award for LGBT: Sail NI
Community Organisation Award for Race, Faith & Religion: Kick It Out
Community Organisation Award for Multi-strand: Radio Reverb
Entrepreneur of Excellence: Geoff Holt MBE
Celebrity of the Year: Warwick Davis
Diverse Company: Touchstone
Lifetime Achiever: Dr Lewis Turner