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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Decade long dream ignited as Asian Standard London launches amidst Honours at UK Parliament, celebrating triumphs of inspirational individuals

During a momentous occasion for the UK media industry, internationally renowned actress, Manisha Koirala, was among the inspiring South Asian figures honoured with a prestigious award, celebrating her remarkable achievements in the Indian film industry and overcoming adversity. The award ceremony took place at the Houses of Parliament in London on Friday 27 October during the launch of the groundbreaking new publication, Asian Standard newspaper’s London edition. The launch was hosted by MP Wajid Khan, Baron Khan of Burnley.

Asian Standard London has been launched by RF Media & Publishing, guided by the indomitable and visionary mother-daughter team of Rokaiya Patel and Fatima Patel.  Bringing the latest regional edition of the newspaper to the capital has been the realisation of a decade-long dream that had its inception in the vibrant tapestry of London’s South Asian community. The launch event not only unveiled the city’s free, South Asian weekly newspaper but also served as a testament to the enduring power of determination and resilience.

In 2013, Fatima Patel conceived the idea of bringing the diversity of stories from the South Asian community to the heart of London. However, fate intervened in the form of personal setback with a ruptured tendon and a benign tumour that momentarily disrupted her vision. Despite these challenges, Fatima displayed unwavering determination and drew strength from the support of her loved ones. Ten years on, Asian Standard London marks the next milestone achievement in the newspaper series’ journey.

RF Media & Publishing’s approach is to regionalise their newspapers to amplify the often-unheard, grassroots voices of South Asian communities and to provide news that resonates with the specific interests and needs of each local community. Currently, the print newspaper is available in four editions: Bradford, Kirklees, Leeds and the North East. The publishing house has ambitious plans to launch six more titles by 2025, with the London edition being the next phase of UK-wide expansion, available on newsstands from 1st November.

As the Asian Standard begins to chronicle the stories, achievements and aspirations of London’s South Asian community, it stands as a testament to the tenacity of those who persevere through adversity and inspire the world. The London edition launch and the recognition of Manisha Koirala’s achievements serve as a reminder that dreams are not confined by geographical boundaries or limitations.

Koirala, a celebrated actress from Nepal, who has enthralled audiences worldwide with her

Image: Eren Cebeci

exceptional talent and dedication to the art of cinema, was honoured for her outstanding contribution to the India film industry. Her journey has transcended boundaries and has been an inspiration to many aspiring actors. The prestigious award is a testament to her unparalleled achievements and relentless pursuit of excellence, while also overcoming major health issues in her life in beating cancer. Speaking about the award Manisha said, I’m so deeply honoured to be here and to meet so many amazing people. Thank You for involving me today; this will always have a place in my heart. I have had a brilliant career but there have also been low’s. When I was diagnosed with cancer I had time to reflect. I started asking questions – have I lived well? Have I done justice to this life? And I hadn’t. In hospital I had a lot of time to reflect and especially about what was important to me – my health, relationships, my career. I’m ten years cancer free now and when death comes knocking at my door again I want to die thinking that I didn’t waste my time on earth and l know that I have lived fully according to my heart.”

Celebrating pan Subcontinent achievement and global personalities that have overcomeDr Sulochana Segera with Fatima Patel and Lord Wajid Khan great personal and professional challenges, also honoured at the launch event was Chairperson of global brand, Women In Management, social entrepreneur and motivational speaker, Dr. Sulochana Segera, from Sri Lanka. Acknowledging the award she said, It’s an honour to be here and a bit emotional to receive the award. My work has been very silent; I normally talk about other women; but I’ve been told to stop hiding and to get on the platform. Fatima sent me a letter about the award and I was shocked as I normally send out letters to award other woman. Fatima’s award is not only for me but for all women and for my country.”

Hasina Momtaz with Fatima and Lord Wajid Khan

News presenter, former PR Advisor to the Mayor of London, Founder of faith-based jewellery brand, Soul Gems, and Deputy Director of Media, Campaigns and Public Engagement at global charity, ActionAid, Hasina Momtaz of Bangladeshi origin, was also honoured. She said, Thank you to the Asian Standard and to Fatima; I’m deeply honoured to receive this award.  Fatima, please continue to be a disrupter because disrupters are the instigators of change. With what’s happening in the world around us we need to see change.”

British Paralympic wheelchair rugby player and Paralympic Gold Medallist of Indian origin, Ayaz Bhuta MBE, was also honoured. Speaking about overcoming adversity at the event he said, From a young age I tried to prove myself; I started playing cricket as a young boy and they couldn’t get me out. At school I wasn’t allowed to do much sport but I broke the barriers and began PE lessons in a wheelchair.” About winning Gold for Team GB at the Paralympics he added, “We played the USA Paralympic Final and beat them by five points to win the gold medal. My gold medal was my dream but, for many with disabilities, all they want is to be is respected as a fully able-bodied person. That would mean leaps and bounds for them.”

Former Yorkshire Cricketer Azeem Rafiq who blew the whistle on racism honoured by Asian Standard in Parliament

English cricketer of Pakistani origin and champion against racism in cricket, Azeem Rafiq, was also honoured. While unable to attend in person, through a special video message he said, I thank you for honouring me today, it means a lot and I hope it gives everyone hope in any adversity and confidence that, no matter how small or big our voice, there is power in our voice and we must use it whenever possible for standing up for what we believe in.”

Speaking about Asian Standard’s continuing journey and the London edition launch, Fatima Patel said, “As we launch the Asian Standard London, we embrace the vibrant tapestry of our community. In the ink that runs through these pages, we find the stories of resilience, the melody of cultures and the strength of unity. The Asian Standard doesn’t just represent my journey but the stories of resilience, hope and strength in adversity that we all carry within us. It is a testament to the power of never giving up, even when faced with the toughest challenges.

“The newspaper is not just a celebration of diversity; it’s a testament to our shared dreams and collective aspirations. Let these words be a bridge that connects hearts, a beacon of hope and a catalyst for change. As we empower voices, celebrate differences and honour the rich heritage that shapes our narratives, we ignite a spark that lights up the path toward a harmonious tomorrow. Together, we craft a story that echoes through generations, inspiring every reader to believe in the power of their own voice. In the pages of Asian Standard London, we don’t just find news – we find the soul of our diverse and united community.”

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