02:49PM, Friday 07 January 2022
Community figures and leaders in their field have been recognised in the New Year Honours, announced at the end of December.
The Express spoke to some of the recipients in our area about the work they have been doing and what it means to be recognised.
Pravesh Kumar, Slough: The founder of the UK’s most successful British South Asian touring company has been awarded an MBE for services to theatre.
Pravesh Kumar grew up in Slough and established the Rifco Theatre Company in 2000 to tell the stories and experiences of British Asians in a way that was both accessible and appealing to the community.
In 2011, he wrote and directed Britain’s Got Bhangra, a musical that deals with racism and theft of music in the British music industry.
Audiences also flocked to see his play, The Deranged Marriage, which covered the theme of honour and the hilarious mayhem of an Indian wedding.
In 2019, Pravesh also brought the story of Educating Yorkshire star Musharaf Asghar to the stage.
The hit Channel 4 show revealed the challenges ‘Mushy’ faced trying to manage his stammer in school.
Pravesh’s show Mushy: Lyrically Speaking explained how Musharaf discovered a rhythm in his voice through music and help from his inspirational teacher, Mr Burton.
Pravesh said: “I grew up looking at Windsor Castle in the distance from bedroom in Slough, this feels like a dream.
“I am delighted to be recognised for my work and be in such esteemed company on 2022 Honours List. I have been making British Asian focused theatre for 21 years now and I feel blessed to have worked with such amazing creatives and actors.”
He added: “Our community rarely wants to talk about the serious issues and I realised that the only way to connect was through making the conversation accessible through entertainment and really open the doors to theatreland for a whole new audience.
“We’ve come so far as a community in this country and I think it is important to continue hold up a mirror to society and tell those untold stories.
“We haven’t quite reached anywhere near equality yet. Theatre remains a mostly white and middle class-led industry, where voices like mine are still rare.
“I am hoping that I have been able to cut down some of the big grass and clear pathways for others artists and leaders to walk on.”
Beverley Edwards, Slough: Beverley Edwards, from Slough, has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to women in policing.
Beverley retired from the Met in 2007 after 30 years of service and took over as chair of the Metropolitan Women Police Association in 2011.
Her work included supporting retired officers and their families as well as providing friendship and emotional support.
She was chosen to carry the MWPA flag behind the colours of the Metropolitan Police during a service at Westminster Abbey which celebrated 100 years of women policing London in 2019.
The retired officer thanked her fellow association members and husband John for their support during her time at the MWPA.
Mamta Singhal, Langley: Mamta Singhal, from Langley, has been awarded an MBE for services to engineering for her role as a volunteer at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London.
Mamta, 41, has won numerous awards in design engineering and is a Board member of the Woman’s Engineering Society.
Speaking to the Express, she said her feet had ‘just about returned to the ground’ after finding out about her award a few weeks ago.
“It was just a normal Saturday for me when I collected my post and saw a letter from Her Majesty’s Service,” said Mamta.
“I thought that I’d either done something pretty good, or something really bad – it was just a total surprise for me.”
She added that she volunteered as a ‘good way to make friends’ when she moved south from Scotland, as well as her love of learning and a newfound love for public speaking.
Adam Prince, Burnham: The founder and chairman of a COVID-19 charity has reflected on its work during the pandemic, after being awarded a BEM.
Adam Prince, who previously lived in Burnham and now resides in Staffordshire, received the honour for services to the community in Burnham during COVID-19. Following the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Adam founded and set up the Burnham Resilience Group (BRG) on Facebook to help the community, which later became the Burnham Resilience Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).
While working primarily behind the scenes, writing policies and getting everything in order, Adam also carried out tasks such as doing the shopping, collecting prescriptions and completing odd jobs for people.
As well as an army of volunteers helping with tasks such as shopping, prescription collecting, and vaccinations, other support was also provided, some of which includes mental health support for schools, and the Buddy Up scheme.
Mr Prince said: “As a figurehead, its really nice [to be recognised], but I’m certainly not the only one who is doing an amazing amount of work.”
He added: “Whilst its nice to be recognised I’m just one of many.
“I view this as very much, its for the whole team.”
Andrew Smith, Stoke Poges: The director of corporate affairs at Pinewood Group has spoken of his honour at receiving an OBE.
Andrew Smith of Stoke Poges, received the gong for services to business and the to the British film industry.
As well as working at Pinewood Group, Andrew is also chair of the Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
He said: ‘It is an honour, a privilege and an unexpected surprise, to receive an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.
“I am so grateful to all those who I have worked with at Pinewood Studios, the Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership, within business and the film industry.”
Justin Roe, Old Windsor: Dr Justin Roe, from Old Windsor, has been awarded an MBE for services to speech and language therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He is consultant speech and language therapist and joint-head of the Department of Speech Voice and Swallowing at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, and clinical service lead for airway reconstruction at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
He specialises in swallowing, speech and voice problems resulting from of the head and neck, and their treatment.
He is passionate about building partnerships between healthcare providers and patient experts to work together to improve care.
“I have been very fortunate to have had excellent role models, mentors and the opportunity to work with inspiring patient experts and professional colleagues nationally, internationally from across the multidisciplinary team,” he said.
“Receiving this award would not have been possible without the support of my excellent colleagues, and incredibly supportive friends and family.”
George Spinks, Sunninghill: George Spinks has been awarded a British Empire Medal for his services to Reeds Weybridge Rugby Club in Surrey.
George, from Sunninghill, has been a member of the community rugby club for more than 50 years, performing a variety of roles from ‘pumping up the balls, putting in the corner posts and cleaning the changing rooms’.
Currently the club’s press officer, George’s name was put forward for an award by his daughters and members of the club for the service he’s given over the years.
He said the club had been the bedrock of his social life for 50 years and that he was accepting the honour on behalf of the fantastic army of coaches, tea ladies and club members that make Reeds Weybridge RFC such a great family club.