A leading businessman, a prize-winning children’s author, an equalities campaigner and a radio station founder are all set to receive honorary awards from Bradford College.
University Centre Bradford College is making Honorary Fellows of Amjad Pervez, the founding partner of the Seafresh food group, writer Robert Swindells, Saorsa Tweedale who founded the Bradford-based support group Trans Positive and Mary Dowson, who founded BCB Radio.
The quartet will receive their awards at graduation ceremonies that will take place at Bradford’s LIFE Centre onTuesday and Wednesday, November 21, 22. They will join hundreds of students who have completed higher education courses at the college this year.
Students from the areas of teaching, applied science and social care and community practice will be taking to the stage on Tuesday to collect their certificates. Then, on Wednesday, it will be the turn of students graduating from courses in business, law, services management, arts and creative industries to celebrate.
Amjad Pervez is being recognised for his contribution to business. He went from owning one corner shop to running Seafresh food wholesaling and Adams cash and carry business and employing nearly 300 people locally and many more across the globe through its global supply networks.
Having moved to Bradford from Pakistan as a 10-year-old, in 1970, he studied A Levels at Bradford College before gaining a degree in business and marketing and then setting up his own business. He is a strong advocate of, and a huge contributor to, Bradford’s economic growth and credits the rich and diverse city for giving him the education, acceptance, support and the opportunity to form networks which in turn helped him cultivate innovative ideas to grow his business.
He is chairman of Asian Trade Link Yorkshire and serves on various boards including the Producer City Board, the Bradford Teaching Hospital Foundation NHS Trust, Rainbow School Trust, Bradford Breakthrough, Bradford Matters, the Council for Mosques, and the National Asian Business Association.
Best-selling author Robert Swindells, who has written more than 60 books for children, left school with no O Levels but returned to education as a mature student and passed five O Levels at Bradford College. Aged 33 he qualified as a teacher and spent eight years teaching in Bradford primary schools before leaving the professional to focus full-time on writing.
In 1994 he won the Carnegie Medal for children’s literature with Stone Cold, a story about homelessness amongst young people.
Mary Dowson’s honorary fellowship recognises her as being a real champion for her adopted city of Bradford. A director and one of the founders of the award-winning BCB radio – Bradford Community Broadcasting – she hails from London but has Bradford in her heart having arrived in the city as a student in the 1970s and later working as a youth worker in Manningham and a teacher at Bradford College.
The station began as Bradford Festival Radio and was granted its own licence more than 20 years ago. It continues to celebrate, champions and applaud Bradford's thriving and vigorous communities.
Saorsa Tweedale’s award acknowledges her efforts to promote LGBTQ+ equality in Bradford and beyond, with particular appreciation for her work on transgender issues.
A Bradford College graduate herself, having completed a Masters in the Politics of Visual Representation in 1999, she is an out and visible transgender woman who founded the Bradford-based social support group Trans-Positive.
She is a National Diversity Ambassador for the Department of Work and Pensions; the equality officer for her local PCS Union branch and the national Transgender representative for PCS Proud.
She is also a director at Bradford LGBT Strategic Partnership and also serves on the Bradford Hate Crime Alliance Committee and is a regular contributor to the equality and diversity agenda at Bradford College, offering input with policy development, staff training, student Transgender awareness talks and other project work.
Bradford College Provost, Richard Thomas, said: “For our students the graduation ceremonies are the crowning event of their academic endeavour and achievement and I look forward to celebrating with them. Many have overcome their own unique challenges on the journey towards completing their qualification. Many will have completed their studies whilst managing several competing demands such as family commitments or working, which makes their success even more remarkable.
“Graduation day is their special day that celebrates their academic achievements and allows them to look to the future with great pride.
“I would like to extend my thanks and congratulations to our honorary fellows who have accepted an honorary award from Bradford College.”
The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr Abid Hussain, will also be attending the graduation ceremonies on Tuesday.