A dedicated philanthropist and an acclaimed pharmacist were among many others whose contributions were recognised and honoured by the University of Bradford, as it celebrated its graduation week and accorded degrees to the students passing out.
The University accorded philanthropist Nazim Ali with an ‘Outstanding Contribution Award’ while the University’s school of Pharmacy & Medical Sciences honoured pharmacist Dr Mahendra G Patel OBE with an honorary Doctor of Health for services to pharmacy and addressing health inequalities.
Having raised around £750,000 for various charities over the last decade, Nazim Ali funded the building of more than 250 homes in places like Pakistan and Uganda and spent all his spare time giving gifts to poorly children and feeding the hungry, he deserves a little attention.
On 19 July, Nazim stepped onto the stage at the University of Bradford, an institution that has had a huge impact on his life, to accept an Outstanding Contribution Award, in recognition of his significant dedication to charity, fundraising and humanitarian work in Bradford and internationally.
Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Nazim, 42, said: “I am surprised and humbled by this honour from my home city. I live round the corner from the university, I did my undergraduate degree here, the first in my family to go to university. It means an enormous amount to me.”
The list of Nazim’s achievements is simply astonishing.
This year, he completed his 10th annual Ramadan 10K Run, raising nearly £60,000 to build 36 new homes for families in Uganda. Finishing in 59 minutes, the Lincoln race was one of his best performances in years, completed while fasting for Ramadan.
Nazim will soon be heading to Uganda to see how those new homes are coming along, a trip paid for with his own money, using annual leave from his day job as a career’s adviser for Bradford schools. It will be just the latest in over a dozen self-funded humanitarian trips around the world over the last 10 years.
Growing up in poverty and suffering from TB as a five-year-old, has propelled him into devoting his life to helping others.
Nazim, who lives at home in Manningham, Bradford, with his mum, younger brother and older sister, said: “I don’t remember much about being sick, just having all these tubes coming out of me and the nurses giving me teddies.
“It could have been so different for me, but God gave me full recovery to be able to run 10k Ramadan runs and marathons. We did have hard times at home and that’s why I do the Curry Circle. Helping others has helped me become a better person.”
Nazim lives a “simple life” so he can use his money for others, something he did while studying for his BSc (Hons) in History and Politics at the University of Bradford.
He said: “We never had much money. As a student, I used to work 15 hours a week plus overtime at Jackson’s, the former supermarket opposite campus. I’d get about £350 to £400 a month and I’d give two thirds of it to my mum. The rest would pay for my lunches.
Nazim has received a number of awards, including the prestigious British Citizen Award, presented at the Palace of Westminster. He has previously been a Lay Member on the North and West Yorkshire Advisory Committee and in 2001, aged 21, he was the youngest Chair of Girlington Community Centre. Nazim has also served on several other community and regeneration boards.
Similar is the story of Dr Mahendra G Patel, an accomplished pharmacist with many feathers to his cap.
Bradford born Dr Patel’s family had moved in from India in the 1950s. He along with his parents tackled an era of racism and political unrest, only to climb the ladder upwards. Dr Patel opened his own pharmacy businesses in Bradford and Leeds.
Speaking at the ceremony Dr Mahendra Patel said: “I began my career as a community pharmacist and thereafter became owner of pharmacies in Leeds, and later in Bradford. This drew me to the unacceptable health inequalities that I had witnessed whilst working in the two areas – so I then went on to sacrifice a very healthy income by almost 2/3 at the time, to go away and to try do something about it – through research!”
An alumnus of the University, Dr Patel is also a visiting honorary professor, and he uses his accolades to promote health education and encourage engagement in healthcare research to help reduce health inequalities.
Dr Mahendra has been adjunct Professor of Pharmacy in Pennsylvania USA since 2011 where he developed a UK/USA pharmacy student exchange programme. In India, he was made the first International Fellow of the Indian Pharmaceutical Association in recognition of his extensive work creating antimicrobial guardians in various states across the nation.
Additionally, for his work in supporting pharmacists in Lebanon for 4 years, he was appointed an Honorary International Member of the Lebanese Pharmacy profession. He is a member of the International Bio-ethics teaching faculty at UNESCO bringing pharmacy into bioethics and most recently has had joint work presented to the United Nations in New York about COVID-19 community outreach programmes