“I’m utterly delighted” - Recognition for Calderdale quartet in Queen’s Birthday Honours
Four people Calderdale have been given a medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Liz Whetham, Executive Headteacher at Holy Trinity Primary School, gets an MBE for services to education, Robert Mitchell, principal social worker for Bradford Council, receives an MBE for services to the social work profession, and Fahima Khanom, hub lead for the Check Challenge Appeal at the Valuation Office Agency in Halifax, gets an MBE for services to customers during Covid-19, while Abrar Hussain, Community Programmes Lead at the Halifax Opportunities Trust, receives a British Empire Medal for services to the community during the Covid-19 pandemic. Liz said: “I am utterly delighted to have received this award but feel that it is an honour to be shared with every child, and every colleague I have worked with in my professional life.
“Each and every one of them has inspired me in some way over the years. Our motto at Holy Trinity is ‘Lighting the Way to a Brighter Future’ and as a school community we are determined to improve outcomes for children in every way.
“The adage of ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ has been truly borne out in the last 15 months and it has been a privilege through roles I hold beyond Holy Trinity, to serve children across different local authorities and regions, through commissions from the DfE and Teaching School Council.
“To be honoured for something which is my passion is the icing on the cake of the true honour of being entrusted with the future of children.”
Chair of Governors Daniel McDermott said: “Congratulations to our Headteacher Liz Whetham, this confirms what we as a school and wider local community already know, and how fantastic for this to be recognised with such an honour. Liz excels as a school leader, with a clear commitment to the improvement and elevation of education at our school and through the work she continues to do across the region.
“The past year has been challenging for everyone, Liz’s approach to continuity, inclusivity, and the wellbeing of all involved has been exemplary.” Robert said: “I was shocked, extremely honoured, and I think it’s really good recognition for social work.
“That was the overwhelming feeling, I’m less pleased for myself because I don’t believe I’m particularly deserving of an award, but I’m really pleased social work’s been recognised.
“I worked in Calderdale as a social worker for 20 years before I moved to Bradford, and I’m passionate about social work, so anything that celebrates it is good.
“I don’t know who nominated me. It was in with all my work emails one afternoon, and I thought ‘that looks a posh email address, I’d better answer that one’.
“I thought it was a joke, so I didn’t answer it straight away, then I went back to it an hour later.
“Strange, crazy, but really lovely at the same time to think that somebody’s taken the time to nominate me.
“We’re not in social work for thanks and awards, we do our work quietly and behind-the-scenes, but to think somebody was bothered enough to nominate me is really nice.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity isn’t it. I’m from a very ordinary background, comprehensive school and struggled to cobble a career together, so to have an opportunity just for one afternoon to be part of that will be lovely.
“And hopefully I get a plus one so I can take my wife with me because I think she’ll be more thrilled with it than I am.”
Fahima said: “When I received the letter from the Cabinet Office saying that I had been nominated for an MBE Award, my first reaction was shock and surprise. I had no idea that colleagues had put me forward for an honour. I didn’t celebrate upon getting the letter because I was Googling whether the letter was real or a hoax.
“It was six weeks before the official announcement and I was under strict instruction to keep it a secret from everyone. I won’t forget the evening that the embargo was finally lifted and I could tell my family my exciting news.
“Because I am so honoured to receive this, it has been really difficult not to say anything.”
“As a British Bangladeshi Muslim woman it gives me great pride to be recognised on my achievements through the honours awards. We play a crucial role and make positive contributions to the economy and society.
“This is a great surprise to me and this award truly belongs to all those that have and continue to support me, recognised my talents and encouraged me in my career journey at the Valuation Office Agency and and to all the amazing people and communities that I work with.
“I also want to thank my family for their great support and standing by me along with my late father, Jamshid Ali Khan who was my role model and I know would be proud of me.
“I’m already trying to decide what I need to wear on the day!”
Abrar said: “It came as a bit of a pleasant surprise to be honest, but it’s not about me, its a reflection of the fantastic work that my colleagues do at the Trust, and colleagues with the various partners we work with, such as the Halifax Community Fridge, Noah’s Ark, the local authority, and the wider community in Calderdale.
“It’s about how communities and people come together to support one another.
“We ran a food parcel delivery service during the first wave of the Covid pandemic, and in the end we delivered around 1,500 to 1,600 parcels.
“We’re still giving out parcels, the need is still out there.
“It was all done by staff on a voluntary basis, not just at the Trust, but from other organisations and the community.
“People picking up stock doing the packing, doing the deliveries. It brought people together.
“It wasn’t just about delivering the items, our drivers would deliver the parcel, take a step back to keep their distance, but people would want to talk to them because isolation was a big issue during the pandemic.
“So we supported people not just in terms of food, but by having those conversations, and gauge what their concerns and worries were, so we could identify what their needs were, and putting support around that person as well.
“That links back to who are as an organisation because we offer support around employment, learning, training, well-being and support for families.
“We were also making a lot of befriending calls to make sure people felt they had somebody to talk to.
“There’s so much to commend all our volunteers and community partners for over the last 18 months, and even before that.”