From the Wandsworth Guardian - by Alexandra Rucki
Community heroes from across Balham and Tooting were honoured at a vibrant awards ceremony last week.
Dozens of volunteers were among 200 people who attended an award dinner organised by Balham and Tooting Community Association (BATCA) awards last Thursday, March 22, in Jasmin's Function Rooms on Upper Tooting Road.
The evening reflected the extraordinary ethnic and religious diversity of the area, with Muslim elders sitting beside Sikhs, black Christians, police cadets and fire fighters.
Local MP Sadiq Khan, said: "Tooting and Balham is an example to the rest of the country, and the wider world, of how people of different religions, races and backgrounds can live together.
"It is due to mutual respect and a brilliant community spirit that we have so many local people volunteering to make our area even better."
The entertainment on the night ranged from a hugely talented 17-year-old rapper addresssing the issue of HIV and one night stands to The Great Gustos, a local community choir who sang songs from around the world.
Amongst the winners were Special Constables Helen Hughes and Johanna Mansell, who volunteer for about 800 hours a year helping out with the local police.
SC Mansell said: "It is an honour to be nominated by the borough you serve and live in, and to be nominated by local people."
Also scooping an individual award was Nisar Bawany, who has been on the management committee of both Balham Mosque and Tooting Islamic Centre for over 38 years and is their family liaison officer for bereaved Muslim families in addition to helping run half a dozen other local organisations.
Another winner was Esther Murray, 74, who was nominated for her work behind the scenes helping making Transition Town Tooting a success, as well as supporting women trafficked into prostitution and helping shop for people in Cowick Street, Tooting, where she lives.
There were a number of team awards as well as special awards for individuals including Mr Tooting, pharmacist Inderjit Patel, of Tooting Business Network who has made a huge contribution to the business community since he moved to the area from Tanzania in the early 70s.
BATCA chairman, Fred Ahmed, who was the driving force behind the awards said the aim was to provide recognition for people doing good work withing the local community and who often do not get the recognition they deserve.
He said: "It was a vibrant night. Everyone got in the swing of things, there was a cross section of all communities."
BACTA Award Winners 2012 Individual winners Helen Hughes, Johanna Mansell, Abdul Razak Osman, Lilias Gillies, Nisar Bawany, Esther Murray Commended individuals Nina Patel, Suliman Gani, Roger Gillman, Bhukku Nagasse, Georgina Ivor, Laura Bessick, Pat Markey, Alan Sharp, Razia Daud Team winners Pure Football Academy, Wandsworth Police Cadets Commended Teams Memon Ladies Group, Volunteer Peer Mentoring Team, Al-Risalah School Team, Graveney School's Duke of Edinburgh award staff and sixth form Special awards Inderjit Patel, Tooting Business Network Paul Cummins, London Fire Brigade Stuart Lowes, Wandsworth Council