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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Tributes pour in for “heart of Manningham” Abu Saleh

Mr Saleh spent over 45 years of his life as a community worker.

BEAP Community Partnership’s centre manager, Abu Saleh has passed away at the age of 85.

Mr Saleh leaves behind his wife of over five decades, Selima, three children, and six grandchildren.

Mr Saleh was born in District Mymensingh during the time of the British Raj, now known as Sherpur Town, in Bangladesh, on 23 December 1938.

Mr Saleh spent over 45 years working as a community worker.

Mr Saleh, was the son of a well-educated and well-respected lecturer who set up a school in his home town, studying economics and politics at undergraduate level and then completed a postgraduate degree in Arabic Studies at the University of Dhaka.

After completing his studies, Mr Saleh moved from Bangladesh to Bradford in the winter of 1965 and married his wife, Selima, in 1971. During this time, Mr Saleh worked for the Post Office as a postal and telegraph officer near Forster Square, when East Pakistan became Bangladesh.

Mr Saleh had a long and diverse career, beginning his working life as a mill worker, then teaching language at Bradford College for four years before becoming a community worker in the late 1970s in Leicester, a sector he worked in until his death.

In 2008, Mr Saleh landed a job at BEAP Partnership as the community centre’s manager. Mr and Mrs Saleh lived in Keighley and Bradford for some time but moved to Leeds to be closer to his eldest daughter.

Mr Saleh was a proud husband and father, boasting the fact that his eldest daughter is a teacher, his son, a PhD holder, and academic working at Imperial College London in the pharmacology department, and his youngest daughter a physiotherapist living in New Zealand.

Chief executive of BEAP, Humayun Islam, said: “The passing of Mr Saleh is a huge loss for the community. He helped and established so many people within all communities, the Bradford community most recently, but in Leicester and Leeds as well. He dedicated over 45 years of his life to serving people.

Tributes have poured in for Mr Saleh.

“It is hard to find words to describe what he had done for the community. He has always been so supportive, having a positive outlook on life, wanting to support as many people as he could.”

Cllr Shabir Hussain, Lord Mayor of Bradford, said: “Mr Saleh worked tirelessly for the community. He liked everybody, it doesn’t matter if you are from Pakistan, India, or Bangladesh. He was well-liked amongst everybody. Mr Saleh always had a smile on his face, it doesn’t matter how much work he had on, he was always smiling.

“Mr Saleh will always be remembered for the work he has done in the community. He has left a legacy for everyone in the community and will be missed by many, including myself. He was a friend amongst friends and a true brother.”

Aziz Ahmed of Aziz Catering said: “Mr Saleh was a beacon for our community, a real gentleman. He is a beacon that has gone out but will always remain in our memories. Our prayers and condolences to his family.”

Nadera Amini, founder and director of NAFS, a sports organisation for mums in Bradford, said: “Mr Saleh was a great and fair man who supported and empowered girls and women into education and sports.”

Jafrul Kabir Gazi, a team leader at an advice service, said: “Mr Saleh has devoted much of his working life to helping the community. He campaigned and advocated for changes that impacted people’s lives. He was helpful, sincere, empathetic, committed, with dedication and integrity. I, for one, will miss him but will always remember him as one to look up to.”

Shaukat Ahmed MBE, known commonly as Mr Manningham, and a long-standing friend of Mr Saleh, said: “I have known Mr Saleh since the 80s. Recently we used to play ‘walking football’ together at BEAP.

“Mr Saleh was a kind, caring and knowledgeable person who believed in inclusivity and development through education, art, and culture. Over five decades his work touched the lives of many people and communities in Bradford, Leeds, and Leicester. May he rest in eternal peace.”

Dr Ikram Butt, the first British Asian rugby player for England, sports engagement consultant, public speaker, and friend of Mr Saleh, said: “‘We are all devastated by the sad news. Mr Saleh was a larger-than-life father figure to us all. A true pillar of the community loved and respected by everyone. Our thoughts are with his family during these difficult times.”

Mr Saleh will be missed dearly by his family, his friends, his colleagues at BEAP, and the community in Manningham.

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