This week over 200 members of the local community gathered alongside police and fire service chiefs, the Mayor of Wandsworth and Tooting Councillors to celebrate the work of ‘community heroes’ at the Balham and Tooting Community Association’s (BATCA) awards evening. The event took place at Jasmin’s Banqueting Hall.
Over the last eight years BATCA has worked to further relations between local residents of all faiths and none. Run by local community activists, they host a series of events throughout the year including their annual ‘BATCA Fun Day’ in the summer.
The awards were presented by a number of community leaders including Commander Mak Chisty and MP for Tooting, Sadiq Khan, who also sat on the panel of judges. Winners of the awards included Tony Holland, Akela of the 4th Balham and Tooting cub scouts (and Sadiq's Akela from when he was a cub scout!), Andrea Owen of the Alzheimer’s Society, the Memon Ladies Group and Nilish and Veena Patel of Nilkanrai newsagents.
The evening’s entertainment included a poetry recital from local student Zarah Farooqi, Bhangra dancing and a storming rendition of songs and carols from all over the world from Furzedown’s very own ‘Great Gustos’ choir. Guests also heard speeches from Sadiq Khan MP, the Mayor of Wandsworth and Chair of BATCA, Akhtar Shah.
Sadiq Khan MP said:
“Only in Tooting will you find Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Jews coming together to celebrate our local community heroes in one room. It was great to see so many people come along and pay tribute to those in our community who often do not get the recognition they deserve.
“We have so many inspirational individuals and organisations here in Tooting, and it was a real honour to be invited to take part in the event and help judge the winners, which included my old Akela, Tony Holland of the 4th Balham and Tooting cubs, and Nilesh and Veena Patel – who gave me my first job as a paperboy almost thirty years ago!
“Well done to BATCA who have put on yet another excellent event that again demonstrates the best of Tooting; our diversity and our sense of community spirit. This does not happen by chance, but thanks to open mindedness and hard work from us all. It was a night to be yet again proud of our community."
Nilesh Patel of Nilkanrai newsagents in Glenburnie Road, said:
“It was a real honour to even be nominated for a BATCA community award, let alone win! And who better to present my wife Reena and I with the award but our former paperboy and now Member of Parliament Sadiq Khan!
“Over the past 40 years we have got to know our customers and neighbours well and many are good friends. With their help and generosity we have managed to raise over £13,000 for children’s charities including the NSPCC, local youth football clubs, and SmileTrain, which helps children born with a cleft palate in many countries around the world.”
Some more photographs from the event
Over 200 members of the local community attended
Sadiq and his first ever employers - Nilesh and Reena Patel
Sadiq and Akela Tony Holland of the 4th Balham and Tooting Scout cubs (Tony was Sadiq's Akela when he was a Tooting cub scout)
The Great Gustos choir singing their version of We Wish You a Merry Christmas - 'Now bring us some chicken curry..'
Sadiq with the Memon Ladies Community Group