Courage, conviction and comradery three words that reflect the past few weeks where I have been asked to judge two distinctly different competitions, but both of which left me inspired and thankful.
In a world that is beset with trial and tribulation, where all we hear about is how hard done by or how poor we are, the savage cuts, the loss of critical services, and our North East region that is constantly and consistently featured at the bottom of all enterprise and education league tables. Yet conversely all I see is how passionate, proud and productive young people and businesses have become.
Don’t get me wrong we have some significant challenges to contend with and some compelling research that highlights this. But all too often we seem to focus on the negatives rather than promoting the positives.
The first event I was asked to judge was the Yorkshire Asian Business Association annual awards in Leeds. I was astounded at the calibre of entrants and all of which made me think how much of an impact the Asian community has made on our country, not just socially but economically. All of these successful businesses employing hundreds of local people across the North of England. I must admit it was a hard job choosing between the entrants and for me all of them are worthy winners.
The second and even more impressive event was when I had been asked to judge the Northumbria Army Cadet Force entrants who were taking part in the Operation Reflect World War One research project. These were members of the Army Cadet Force aged between 12-17 years old, who had been researching the impact of World War One on our local area. Groups of cadets from across the North East presented to members of the Armed forces and me throughout the day.
To say I was embarrassed at not being aware of the turmoil, trial and tribulation of our past generations who fought for this country, and the loss and sacrifices they made, would be an understatement. Nearly 60,000 of our men died on the first day at the battle of the Somme. Every single household in Tynemouth was affected by a loss. Members from across the Commonwealth including Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims fought side-by-side with the British Army.
Putting my embarrassment to one side, I was absolutely delighted, proud and privileged by the level of depth and understanding the Cadets had on the subject. Nigh-on all of them had been given the opportunity to visit France and the various monuments and graves, to learn more. Some had even traced back family members that had fearlessly fought one hundred years ago in 1916. Each of the presenting groups showed courage and conviction in their presentations and demonstrated some incredible personal and professional skills.
All of the Cadets develop the necessary skills employers look for through their training and I would encourage every employer to consider supporting them. I have been fortunate enough to visit Summer Camp and experience first-hand the incredible opportunities available to all and from every community. The next ABCurry Club is kindly being hosted at Fenham Barracks Newcastle on the 27th October. Why not come along and judge for yourself how great our young generation can become through the Army Cadet Force?
Ammar Mirza CBE is passionate about the North East, Founder and Chair of Asian Business Connexions (ABC) alongside holding various public, private and third sector positions across the North East. Email email@example.com