Well, where do I begin? I’m sat here writing this a few days after the National Diversity Awards took place at the stunning Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, relishing in every monumental memory, trying to comprehend the reality of the magical ceremony. 

With my navy maxi dress now slotted back under its plastic cover and my gold heels standing proud on my shoe rack, it’s hard to believe that it’s all over. But there are plenty of memories to hold on to and of course I have to take the opportunity to document them on here. 

Back on the 1st of July, I was working through my usual daily routines when a Twitter notification turned my day around in the best and most surreal way. 

There it was, a tweet stating that I had been shortlisted for the Positive Role Model for Disability category at the National Diversity Awards 2019! I hadn’t sneaked a look at my emails that day yet so I was convinced that this was a dream but after a small pinch and VoiceOver repeating the words back to me five or six times, I managed to convince myself that this was in fact a very awoken reality. 

With an email to confirm it, I burst into a pool of happy tears, still surprised that the judges had chosen me to be named alongside 7 other truly amazing people. 

How did I get there? I have no idea but it still feels so unbelievable to think that writing about my experiences of living with sight loss has lead to something so prestigious. 

With details of the ceremony being a very welcome addition to my inbox, the next couple of months were spent marvelling at the thought of the black tie event which was set to be the grandest celebration of diversity in the UK. 

ITV News were one of many sponsors of this year’s NDA’s and shortlisted nominees were given the opportunity to share their experiences on regional news channels.

I was lucky in the sense that I got to film with ITV Wales News in the weeks running up to the awards and it’s one of my favourite interviews to date. Despite the seriousness of talking about some of the realities of sight loss, a lot of laughs were had and it felt more like a chat rather than a TV interview. 

After a few months of anticipation, the 20th of September finally arrived and with the heels and bag I wore to the ceremony only arriving half an hour before we needed to leave the house, it’s safe to say that it was a very close call. 

A couple of trains later and my mum and I made it to Liverpool, the vibrancy of the city almost tangible as soon as we stepped on to the platform. 

With a couple of hours to spare at The Jury’s Inn (our hotel for the night) we used the time wisely to get glammed up for the evening ahead. After snapping a few outfit shots, we waited patiently in the gusty northern winds with fellow attendees, one of which was wearing the same dress as I was – we both must have great taste!

We shared a taxi with my dress twin and as we approached the Cathedral we were met by the sound of a drumming band playing outside. As we stepped out of the taxi, we were immersed in a sea of people – all dressed to the nines – with an array of different coloured dresses and dapper suits marking the occasion. 

With the gusts still strong, we were suitably windswept for a quick snap the photographer took of us before we headed inside. 

All smiles, we walked into the breathtaking venue, making our way up to the main seating area which was bathed in a beautiful blue light. There were over 50 tables extending towards the east window with the stage appropriately set up against the stunning backdrop. 

I couldn’t see these aesthetics but my mum did well in describing our surroundings, ensuring that I could paint my own picture of what was around us. 

The voices of attendees filled the space as more and more people filed in. A few camera clicks could be heard around us, a flurry of flashes also indicating the fact that everyone were capturing this moment with a clink of champagne glasses punctuating the beginning of the celebrations. 

We met Jenni, who was a fellow (and very worthy) shortlisted nominee in the disability category, and her mum before everyone took their seats at their tables. Jenni is an incredible advocate for invisible disabilities and she works hard to raise awareness of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and a cerebrospinal fluid leak. I love her fabulous blog and YouTube channel so it was lovely to meet her and her mum and relish in what we were about to experience. 

As we ventured to find our seats for the evening, my mum gleefully announced that we were sat on one of the front row tables, directly in front of the stage. I have no idea how we managed that but it felt so incredible to be so tangibly close to the stage and all the hard working people that would later be crowned on it. 

A bag of Lush goodies were waiting for us on our seats – Lush were one of the sponsors of the awards this year – as were Able magazine who gifted everyone with their latest issue. An article of mine was included in this specific issue so I was secretly proud when met with the knowledge that this was something attendees would be taking away with them. 

But the cherry on top of the cake was a certificate of appreciation which was sitting proudly on the table. The writing stating my place in the Positive Role Model for disability shortlist, goosebumps raising as my mum read the words out to me. 

The evening was no longer a whisper of a dream and we spent the ensuing hours getting to know the people on our table and cheering on the winners and nominees of this year’s National Diversity Awards. 

Speaking of those who were on our table, we had the company of people such as Gavin Neate (the entrepreneur behind the app, Neatbox), Cheryl Robson who was shortlisted for the Lifetime Achiever award, Alan Quick who was up for the Positive Role Model for LGBT award and Errol Murray –  the founder of Leeds Dads who was shortlisted in the Community organisation for Gender category

I have to admit that I hadn’t been feeling the best in the run up to the ceremony but the awards were the perfect antidote. Providing everyone with uplifting speeches and tears being teased whilst inspiring videos echoed through the room as winners made their way to the stage. The energy was infectious with the promise of even more heartfelt speeches on the horizon as the ceremony continued.

Actress and comedian Sally Phillips was the host for the evening and what a great one she was! She greeted the audience at the beginning of the evening with a flurry of inspiring, uplifting and funny words before introducing Paul Sesay, the CEO and founder of the awards. 

He highlighted the importance of the ceremony, talking us through his aspiration to create the NDA’s before going on to talk about how many people the awards have recognised since its inception eight years ago. A record breaking 28,543 nominations and votes were received this year alone with 126 shortlisted nominees attending the ceremony on Friday night. How incredible! 

But whether you were taking an award home or not, Paul stated that to him, everyone was a winner. I second that. 

The awards clearly hold a monumental place in the name of diversity and I felt incredibly proud to be amongst the celebrations.

A speech was also delivered by Liverpool’s first black mayor, Anna Rothery, who highlighted that Liverpool has always been a city that celebrates diversity. The capturing and inspiring words of every speech were perfect to kick off the night. 

We were then treated to a three course meal (gluten free for me) and an opportunity to mingle with other attendees before the ceremony itself started. 

The evening was live streamed by ITV on their YouTube channel from 9pm onwards, you can watch it back here if you fancy. 

It felt like a movie. Only there weren’t any main characters, everyone had an equal part.

I won’t talk you through all the winners as we’d be here all evening (and you know how I can ramble) but if you’re intrigued to know who took home each award, the full list of winners can be found on the National Diversity Awards’ website – here

The Positive Role Model for Disability award was the second to be announced with Able magazine editor, Tom Jamison, and former footballer and Sky Sports pundit, Chris Kamara, being the two men to present it. Kamara even treated us to a short performance of The Beatles’ ‘Let it Be’, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that he has quite a lovely singing voice – who knew?

My heart raced as the names of the shortlisted nominees echoed through the cathedral. I had no expectation of winning since every nominee was incredible. The fact that I had no speech prepared is testament to the unlikely outcome (I’m not sure what I would have done if my name was called out!)

When the winner was announced, some of the men on our table said ‘And Elin’ and their cheers were enough to make me giggle. That’s just a nod to the extent of the support that filled the cathedral that evening, it was so incredibly heartwarming. 

The winner of the award was the amazing Strongbones youth ambassador, Myles Sketchley, who works hard to campaign for young people with disabilities. A very worthy winner and someone I was honoured to be shortlisted alongside. 

Applause and cheers filled the cathedral as 15 people and organisations were crowned the best of British diversity with fabulous speeches being delivered by the presenters of the awards and their recipients. 

One that stood out to me was Annie Wallace’s, who presented the award for Community Organisation (Multi strand). She expressed her dilemma when choosing what colour to wear to the ceremony, thinking that opting for black would be too funeral-like. But then she went on to say:

“Maybe it is a funeral, maybe it’s a funeral for intolerance, and hatred, and lack of diversity, and racism, because every single person here is killing it stone dead.”

The attendees bursting into rapturous applause, displaying their agreement. The cathedral being struck by an even stronger sense of unity.

These claps and cheers were the footnotes of a celebration of equality. Every inch a symbol of diversity, encouragement and acceptance. Something we need more of in the world. 

The evening was laced with those uplifting cheers whilst trepidation melted away, leaving space for support and unity. No trace of detachment, misconceptions or judgement. 

There was also plenty of entertainment throughout the evening with Jelli Studios capturing us all with their singing and dancing. A performance of Les Miserables ‘On My Own’ was a personal favourite of mine although I can imagine that I would have loved their Toy Story production if I could see it.  

The X Factor’s LMA choir wrapped up the evening with incredible performances of songs such as From Now On and the Circle of Life with everyone listening intently before filing on to the dance floor and singing along to the powerful rendition of The Greatest Showman’s ‘This is Me’ – a very fitting song to mark a night of diversity, equality, acceptance and unity. Everyone soaking up the words that remind us we should embrace the people that we are and be proud of every step we take. The moment being an emphasised symbol of unity. 

As shortlisted nominees, we were asked to mosey on to the stage for one final photo before the evening drew to a close. 

After a few goodbye’s, my mum and I made our way back to the hotel, sleepy and satiated.

We ventured out into the bustling city centre on Saturday but chronic fatigue caught up with me, meaning that we had to cut our visit short. So after a quick sandwich at the M&S cafe (being the glamorous people that we are), we headed back to the hotel to collect our cases before hopping on the first train home. 

And so the National Diversity Awards 2019 were over but the memories we captured during the evening will stay with us forever. 

The people recognised throughout the evening don’t ask to be in the spotlight, they don’t plead to be acknowledged. They simply work hard to make the world a more diverse place and they do so in such incredible fashion. Many underestimate the power of their own work and the positive influence they can have on others and this is why they deserve to be recognised and celebrated because without them, change wouldn’t be so tangible. 

So let’s raise a glass to every single person who is working hard to make a difference, whether they were a part of the NDA’s or not. Be proud of yourself and everything you do because YOU can make a difference even if you don’t always see it. 

To have so many incredible individuals under one roof was something really powerful and my mum and I felt incredibly lucky to share the evening with so many people who are striving to make a positive difference in today’s society. 

We were propelled into an incredibly positive and inspiring atmosphere, something which was enough to make anyone feel like a winner. 

It baffles me that writing my blog has lead to something so incredible. I started blogging with the sole intention of reaching just one person, completely oblivious to where it could lead. I’m still left blown away when someone reaches out to me stating that my writing has helped in some way so for my work to be recognised on such a prestigious level is an absolute honour, I can’t quite put it all into words. 

So I want to say thank you to everyone who supports me. Whether you read every post or if you’ve only read one, thank you. If you’ve ever reached out to me, liked, shared or commented, thank you. Your unwavering support will never go unnoticed and it’s no secret that I wouldn’t be where I am today without it, thank you so much. 

If I can continue to use my writing to make a positive change then I’ll take the opportunity to do so with both hands. As someone who used to be so shy, especially when it came to talking about my disability, I’m astounded when thinking about the position I’m in today. But I’d like to think that this is testament to my development in both confidence and acceptance. So in a way, I have to thank my vision impairment too for equipping me with experiences and knowledge that I wouldn’t otherwise have and for allowing me to share those things in the hope of raising awareness and helping others who are in a similar situation. 

Just one last note about the NDA’s; I want to thank the National Diversity Awards for working tirelessly to put on such a powerful display of diversity and for allowing my mum and I to be a part of it all this year. The energy in the room was intrinsically positive, with nominees cheering each other on in a true display of equality. It’s safe to say that I’ve never experienced anything like it. Everything about the evening was so magical. 

Who needs the Oscars when you have the National Diversity Awards?!

Congratulations to everyone involved, every nominee, Paul Sesay the founder, everyone behind the scenes and of course to everyone else who are working hard to raise awareness and make the world a more diverse place. 

You should all give yourselves a pat on the back – it’s so well deserved. 

There’s no doubt that the National Diversity Awards have become a cornerstone of British diversity and I have no doubt that they will continue to strive to recognise those who are making a real difference. It was such an honour to attend the awards this year and even more mind-blowing to be shortlisted in one of the categories – something I’ll be forever grateful for. If you ever get the opportunity to attend the awards, I can assure you that it will be one of the most inspiring and magical things you’ll ever experience. 

So let’s raise (another) final glass to the NDA’s and all those who strive to make diversity and equality a reality for everyone. 

Elin x

Source – Written by Elin Williams – Featured by https://myblurredworld.com/2019/09/29/celebrating-equality-at-the-national-diversity-awards-2019/

It’s strange to think, as I sit here in bed in my most comfortable tracksuit with a bloated tummy and sore head, that this time last week I was sat down for a 3-course dinner in a beautiful cathedral, which looked like it had been taken straight out of a Harry Potter film, dressed like a modern-day Ariel who had just learned to walk. I was surrounded by funny, interesting, brilliant people and had just been laughing as Sally Phillips, from Miranda & Bridget Jones’ Diary, made fun of the current mess of our country’s leadership. It definitely wasn’t an ordinary Friday night. I spent last Friday morning traveling to Liverpool for a wonderful and exciting event that evening. I had been nominated for the Positive Role Model for Disability Award at the National Diversity Awards 2019. It was an absolute honour to just be present at such a wonderful occasion. Let alone being there because I had been nominated for an award myself. It was a very special night.

The first surprise of the night came well before we’d even reached the stunning setting of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. After our very long journey’s mum and I got glammed up at our hotel a few miles away. I gave mum a quick lesson in taking the perfect Instagram shots before our Taxi arrived and we headed to the venue. The surprise comes when we get out of the Taxi and he tells us it will only be £3?! I like it up north 😛 Not only this but outside we were greeted by a huge tribe of drummers to welcome us. I was flattered with so many compliments before we’d got to the entrance but I did have a strange conversation with a random stranger who did not appear to be going to the event but merely a passerby. He complimented my hair and then spotted my walking stick and said ‘Is the cane a reference to a film or tv show or something?’ This was a new one. ‘No, it’s just a walking stick’, I replied. ‘Right…Good…Because that would be bad’, said the stranger. Yes, yes it would, I thought as I carried on my way. A few more pictures outside, got to get the good light, and we headed into the cathedral itself. From the outside It wasn’t the most beautiful building, it’s a strange rusty colour which doesn’t fit with the image of a cathedral which I have in my mind but the inside was a completely different story.

The stained glass windows sparkled under the lights that my lighting designer boyfriend would have geeked out over. Waiters floated around with champagne and canapes whilst film crews and photographers whizzed round. It really did feel like the Oscars. Then we spotted the dining area full of hundreds of candles on tall candelabras atop over 50 round tables in long rows. It really did feel like I was about to attend the yule ball at Hogwarts.

Then I met the first of many superstars of the evening, The lovely Elin from My Blurred World, who was also nominated in my category, yet far more deserving! In 2018 she was named one of the most influential disabled people in the UK for her Disability & Lifestyle blog all about living with a visual impairment. She was diagnosed with degenerative eye condition Retinitis Pigmentosa aged 6 and was registered blind by 12. We had a lovely chat with Elin & her mum before we went to our respective tables for dinner.

Catering for my difficult dietary requirements is tricky so whenever I go to big events with mass catering my expectations are always low. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. We had a very tasty tomato soup with a gluten-free dumpling to start. Now, I’m not going to lie, I still can’t tell you what the vegetarian main was, I’m going with some kind of Polenta slice but the vegetables, fondant potatoes and sauces which accompanied it made the whole plate taste fabulous. They’d gone to great effort with the vegan dessert to make a soy panna cotta with raspberry coulis but desserts generally aren’t my thing, especially milk-based ones even if they are dairy-free, but a gave it a try.

We had some fab people on our table. From SuperTeacher Sarah Mullin, who was nominated for positive role model for gender and has way too many letters after her name, to another nominee from my category, Terry McCorry, a disability hate crime advocate and rheumatoid arthritis sufferer from Northern Ireland. He had brought along his beautiful wife Patricia. We talked twitter and walking sticks and had a lovely time.

Talking of walking sticks, I was so excited to have been gifted a brand new one for the occasion by NeoWalks. Lyndsay, who runs Neowalks, is a beautiful soul. An amputee herself she wanted to make sure people know that walking sticks can be stylish too. I had chosen the champagne fizz stick which is clear and has beautiful bubbles in the acrylic. These catch the light and make the whole stick sparkle. I think this was the first time I’d ever felt proud to use a mobility aid. It complimented my forest green, sequinned mermaid dress, which Mike had bought me last Christmas, so well and with my freshly coloured red hair I did feel like a real-life Ariel for the evening. I felt like a million dollars. As soon as I have some spare cash I know I will have a whole NeoWalks walking stick wardrobe!

Terry & I had a little wander around before the awards segment of the evening got started; the chairs were not ideal for people with hip problems. We were lucky enough to meet Sally Phillips who was so lovely and had time for everyone and asked questions despite being on a tight schedule. We also got to meet National Diversity Awards CEO Paul Sesay who thanked us for our hard work. Finally, we got to meet Dan White, who we had both met separately through Twitter. Dan is a broadcaster, writer and campaigner who had been nominated for these awards in the past but that evening he was there to celebrate the achievements of his amazing daughter Emily, who, at just 12 years old, won the award for positive role model for age. Emily was born with Spina Bifida, among other things, and has been a wheelchair user since she was 3. She wanted to see more people like her represented in TV & Books so, with the help fo her dad created ‘The Department of Ability Comic‘ which features 5 disabled superheroes. She has also appeared on almost all the major TV channels campaigning for better access & care for disabled children. She’s a true rockstar!

Then it was time for the awards to be given out. A whole host of celebrities and public figures were in attendance to present the awards from the Mayor of Liverpool herself to Reggae Reggae Sauce creator Levi Roots, and one of my all-time favourite Paralympians, Hannah Cockcroft. Presenting my category was the editor of Able Magazine, Tom Jamison and Sports Pundit Chris Kamara who rather surprising got the whole room to join him in a chorus of Let It Be which you can see in my latest vlog. Unfortunately, It was not to be for me this time, but I’d come to that conclusion as soon as the nominees had been announced and I’d seen the caliber of who I was up against. Having been shortlisted from over 28,500 nominees, I felt like a winner just being in that room. Plus, Terry and I had already had the discussion that neither of us could possibly win considering we are disabled and we were seated right at the back 😛 The prize went to the brilliant Myles Sketchley who has Schizencephaly, a rare brain defect that caused cerebral palsy, scoliosis, kyphosis. He is a youth ambassador for Strong Bones and has traveled across Europe making wheelchair accessible guides to various attractions.

Obviously, the whole room was filled with incredible people doing amazing things but one of the main people that stood out to me was the winner of the entrepreneur of excellence award, Codilia Gapare. She is a breast cancer survivor who the first-ever range of false eyelashes for people undergoing chemotherapy called ‘C Lash‘. It’s such a simple but brilliant idea that I’m sure makes such a huge difference to people with Cancer and Alopecia. Her speech was so eloquent and she just really shone.

After the awards, we were treated to some great entertainment including a fabulous Toy Story inspired number from Jennifer Ellison’s dance company, Jelli Studios. But one of my highlights of the night was the LMA choir who you may have seen on The X Factor. There was a technical glitch at first so they treated us to an impromptu acapella performance of the Circle of Life from The Lion King which, in the acoustics of the cathedral, sounded magical. But my favourite performance of there’s, which they ended up doing as an encore, was This Is Me from The Greatest Showman. I know this song is done to death despite the fact it’s been nearly 2 years since it’s release, but having a whole room of incredible, diverse people who knew exactly what that song meant singing along was a highlight of the evening.

The evening finished with all the nominees getting on stage for a fabulous group photo. We shook hands with CEO Paul Sesay as he tried to convince us to join everyone at the after-party but after a 4 hour + journey that morning and a long evening of festivities I decided not to let the fear of missing out win and Mum and I headed back to our hotel in another £3 taxi despite it being almost 1am.

Until I was nominated for one I’d never even heard of the national diversity awards but I think they are a hugely important event which should be much better recognised. Celebrating diverse people and inclusive companies which often don’t get any recognition despite their amazing work. I’m so glad to have many so many amazing people and to have learned about so many more. Thank you so much to the NDAs for having me and huge congratulations to all of the nominees & winners.

To see more about my time at the national diversity awards and weekend in Liverpool head here to watch my vlog.

Source – Written by Jenni Pettican as featured on https://chronicallyjenni.com/2019/09/28/friday-thoughts-the-national-diversity-awards/

Comic actress and writer Sally Phillips hosted the 08th annual National Diversity Awards on Friday 20th September.

Community organisations and role models from across the UK headed to the breathtaking Liverpool Cathedral on 20th September to witness the countries 2019 winners being crowned the best of British diversity.

ITV News have been working in conjunction with organisers leading up to the ceremony to highlight role models and community organisations on regional and national news channels.

Rachel Corp, Acting Editor, ITV News, said; “We were delighted to work with the National Diversity Awards to showcase some of the important and inspiring stories of the nominees across our news platforms.  We recognise and support the devotion of those involved in highlighting equality, diversity and inclusion.”

The ceremony, which was also live streamed through ITV News’ YouTube channel, has been described as the ‘golden globes of the diversity world’ among attendees. In addition to real life diversity heroes, a number of special guests made an appearance at the UK’s largest diversity awards to show their support for the incredible nominees who have changed the lives of many.

Football pundit Chris Kamara (pictured above) joined Dragons Den alumni Levi Roots to praise role models and charities for their outstanding achievements. Scouse sensations Philip Olivier and Jennifer Ellison also showed their support alongside the cast of Hollyoaks and Emmerdale. Gold Medal Paralympian Hannah Cockroft MBE took to the stage to honour those fighting injustice and discrimination.

Taking home one of the big gongs of the night, Sir Lenny Henry CBE was the recipient of the Celebrity of the Year Award for his ongoing commitment to increasing diverse representation across the media industry,

“Diversity to me means involving everybody without any discrimination” Said Henry. “It means having integrated groups in society, it means fairness and total inclusion and that’s what the National Diversity Awards are about. This is about everybody being on the bus and nobody being left behind. And that’s what diversity and inclusion is about – nobody being left behind.”

HSBC UK and Direct Line Group were amongst some of the brands sponsoring the pioneering awards that have paid tribute to over 850 grass root charities and diversity champions since its inception. Other companies shining a light on diverse talent included The Open University, The British Army, Nielsen, MI5, Lush Spa, Financial Ombudsman, Kantar, Auto Trader UK and Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure.

A record 28,543 people nominated this year alone with an astonishing 126 nominees being recognised for their various achievements nationwide. Amongst those being commended were the real stars of the show; From a reformed gangster educating children on the perils of crime, to the first ever holistic wellbeing and sexual health service for trans and non-binary people; Liverpool’s grand Cathedral was filled with goodness.

The energy in the room was an intrinsically positive one, with each nominee being extremely supportive of each other. The evening was kicked off by founder of the NDA’s Paul Sesay (pictured above), discussing the importance of the National Diversity Awards and what inspired him to create the ceremony.

“Each year we witness selfless work being carried out by community groups and role models who do not ask for the thanks and praise that they deserve”. Said Mr Sesay. “It is a privilege to recognise your bravery, resilience and courage.”

Soap star Bhasker Patel presented the first award of the night to 12 year old activist Emily White, who created ‘The Department of Ability Comic’, featuring five disabled superheroes with Emily as the leader!

Strongbones Youth Ambassador Myles Sketchley was next to receive an award in the positive role model category for campaigning tirelessly for young people with disabilities. The UK’s leading ‘super manny’, Joss Cambridge-Simmons was gifted with the gender accolade for challenging stereotypes and taking modern childcare to the next level.

Patrick Ettenes was named LGBT role model of the year for raising awareness and understanding of HIV and dementia, whilst Darryl Laycock was awarded the positive role model for race, faith and religion for educating over 160,000 children on the perils of crime.

C-Lash founder and breast cancer survivor Codilia Gapare scooped the the Entrepreneur of Excellence Award for revolutionising the beauty industry by creating the first ever false lashes range for chemotherapy patients.

Another highlight of the evening came when Wirral based charity The Hive Youth Zone (pictured above) accepted the Community Organisation Age Award for welcoming 160 young people per night at the state-of-the-art facility.

Optical retail chain Specsavers were presented with the Diverse Company Award and CliniQ were hailed for changing the way that holistic wellbeing sexual health HIV services are now informed for trans and non-binary people.

The Josephine & Jack project were commended for using life-sized rag dolls to teach people with learning difficulties about sex and relationships, and Andys Man Club were applauded for becoming one of the most important organisations working to help men today, with 10,000 men using the groups last year alone.

Musicians in Exile beat seven other competitors for their work uniting asylum seeking and refugee musicians through the universal language of music, and L6 Community Association emerged as the winner of the Multi-strand category for improving the lives of 89,743 residents in one of the most disadvantaged areas of the country.

Author, speaker and longstanding sports editor of Britain’s leading black newspaper ‘The Voice’ for over 19 years, Rodney Hinds received the prestigious lifetime achiever award with a list of tremendous achievements being recongised by judges.

Featuring an array of local talent performing at the ceremony, Batala Mersey welcomed guests with their mighty Samba Reggae Drummers, World Champion Dancers Jelli Studios wowed the audience with an energetic performance portraying a powerful message, and the ceremony concluded with X factor’s LMA Choir filling the grand Cathedral will their stunning vocals.

Designed to highlight the country’s most inspirational and selfless people, the NDA’s are supported by the likes of Stephen Fry, Katie Piper and Adam Hills amongst many. Talk show legend Graham Norton said;

“Promoting and celebrating diversity is close to my heart, which is why I am thrilled to support The National Diversity Awards! Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees, you all deserve to win!”

The National Diversity Awards was a real feel good ceremony, where each nominee had earned their right to be in attendance for their fantastic work in their specific community.

The UK’s grandest celebration of diversity was a wholeheartedness event refreshingly celebrated in such swanky style, that it was evident who were the stars of this show, the well-deserving, humble and extraordinary nominees.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Positive Role Model for Age:
Emily White

Positive Role Model for Disability:
Myles Sketchley

Positive Role Model for Gender:
Joss Cambridge-Simmons

Positive Role Model for LGBT:
Patrick Ettenes 

Positive Role Model for Race, Faith & Religion:
Darryl Laycock

Community Organisation Award for Age:
The Hive Youth Zone

Community Organisation Award for Disability:
The Josephine & Jack Project

Community Organisation Award for Gender:
Andys Man Club

Community Organisation Award for LGBT:

Community Organisation Award for Race, Faith & Religion:
Musicians in Exile – The Glasgow Barons

Community Organisation Award for Multi-strand:
L6 Community Association

Entrepreneur of Excellence:
Codilia Gapare

Celebrity of the Year:
Sir Lenny Henry OBE

Diverse Company:

Lifetime Achiever:
Rodney Hinds

Source – As featured in Keep The Faith – https://www.keepthefaith.co.uk/2019/09/24/national-diversity-awards-2019-winners-announced/

The National Diversity Awards celebrate the positive role models in communities across the UK tackling the issues in today’s society.

The awards began in 2012 and showcase community organisations, innovative entrepreneurs, inclusive employers and inspirational role models.

This year’s awards, in association with ITV News, are taking place at Liverpool Cathedral and hosted by actress and comedian Sally Phillips.

There were 28,000 nominations for this year’s awards, which will be presented in the following categories:

  • Positive Role Model: Age
  • Positive Role Model: Disability
  • Positive Role Model: Gender
  • Positive Role Model: LGBT
  • Positive Role Model: Race, Faith & Religion
  • Entrepreneur of Excellence
  • Diverse Company
  • Celebrity of the Year
  • Community Organisation: Age
  • Community Organisation: Gender
  • Community Organisation: LGBT
  • Community Organisation: Race, Faith, Religion
  • Community Organisation: Multi-Strand
  • Lifetime Achiever

Sourced- As featured by ITV News- https://www.itv.com/news/2019-09-20/national-diversity-awards-2019-watch-this-year-s-ceremony-live/

Nicholas Nikiforou, a 12 year old activist has been nominated for the ‘Positive Role Model’ award in the UK’s National Diversity Awards 2019.

Nik was born with a pre-cancerous large congenital melanocytic nevus that covered two-thirds of his face.

After it was removed, it left him with scarring on his face. He is considered ‘disfigured’ under the ‘Disabilities Act’.

This is a term that he disagrees with and is fighting for facial equality. As part of his campaigning, Nicholas prints his own art pieces onto thousands of cards and physically hands them out to the public to advocate for kindness, diversity and equality. He also talks in the media about facial equality and runs a YouTube channel.

“I have been severely bullied all because of the way I look. It took a long time for me to realise the good impact I could have on the world, I believed people when they told me that I was worthless, when they told me I wouldn’t be anything because of the way I looked. But throughout the years, I have learnt that what we look like doesn’t define us,” Nik says.

In 2016, he became “The Face of Kinder” and appeared on the wrap of the famous chocolates.

“When newspapers in the UK were writing about me, I had a lot of support but then I noticed some newspapers saying ‘Birthmark boy becomes Face of Kinder’. I sat in my room repeating ‘birthmark boy’. Just in shock. Is that really what I was seen as by some? A birthmark boy? Rather than someone who has made history, I was seen as a ‘birthmark boy’.

He says that this inspired him to fight for change. “This started me on my journey which is why I am privileged to be able to reach individuals through my art, singing, and speeches. My vision is to encourage individuals to embrace what they do have and what they can be, rather than focus on what they do not have or may think they cannot be.”

Nik is a Diana Award winner and anti-bullying ambassador, as well as a British Citizen Youth Award medalist. In 2017 he was voted as one of the “24 most Influential Bristolians Under 24.”

Source – Written by Stelios Marathovouniotis as featured on in-cyprus.com – https://in-cyprus.com/uk-cypriot-antibullying-ambassador-nominated-for-positive-role-model-award-video/



On 14th October 2013, 19 year old Jemma began to feel unwell. Over the next few days her symptoms worsened suffering from severe pain, headaches and constant nausea. Jemma was rushed to A&E and a CT scan revealed severe swelling in the outer lining of her brain, leading to emergency brain surgery. They found Jemma had meningitis strain Y and encephalitis. She woke up three weeks later and spent three and a half months in intensive care, followed by eight months at a neuro rehab unit. Returning home almost one year later, Jemma’s life has been turned upside down. She is tirelessly dedicating her time to raising awareness, sharing her story with various media outlets and campaigning as a Young Ambassador for Meningitis Now. Last year Jemma delivered a speech at the Houses of Parliament highlighting the importance of educating students, universities and health care professionals about the vaccine.




Proud father Dan created a group of disabled heroes called The Department of Ability to highlight the shocking lack of inclusion for disabled children and young adults across the media industry. The Department of Ability was initially created for Dan’s wheelchair using daughter, Emily, who upon receipt of her first wheelchair was desperate to see relevant, everyday characters like herself in the media she consumed. The comic is due to be published this year worldwide via mainstream publication and has attracted supporters from across the globe. This is an unpaid job with Dan giving up work to concentrate on his family and push the diversity and inclusion agenda. Dan works tirelessly to highlight the issues faced by disabled young people with both him and Emily becoming activists, charity ambassadors and global speakers.




Susie has an aggressive form of MS, is a full-time wheelchair user, partially sighted, cannot write or type and struggles to speak. However, combining her passion for travel with her desire to support other wheelchair users, she has devoted huge amounts of her free time setting up wheelchair travel website www.wheelchairworld.org, single-handedly amassing a huge collection of personal wheelchair user reviews, blogs and official resources for 90+ countries. Susie has built relationships with other wheelchair using travellers around the world and raises awareness of her wheelchair travel website through social media, as well as writing numerous articles for newsletters, blogs and other websites. To date, there have been over 12,000 visitors to the website from 130+ countries, totalling more than 36,500 page views. To redevelop the website, Susie has run 2 fundraising campaigns and written various applications for funding.




Faye was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 7, it was largely controlled until she fell pregnant with her first baby in October 2014; pregnancy aggravated Faye’s epilepsy and she became really poorly. She found there was very little support for women with epilepsy in pregnancy and created a blog to offer support to women in the same situation, or to those who were thinking of having a family. The blog grew quickly and in the two years since its inception has been viewed over 100,000 times. Its honesty and warmth make it such a brilliant resource for the epilepsy community and has helped to raise awareness of the disorder. Faye also works with medical professionals and represents patients in important clinical forums to improve the care women with epilepsy receive. At a worrying and difficult time, Faye selflessly only thought of others and used her experiences in a very powerful way.


James Sutliff

2017 WINNER: 


7 years ago James’ life took a sudden, unexpected change. After a normal night out on the town with friends, James returned home and woke up the next day feeling slightly unwell. Putting this down to a hangover, James took a small nap only to wake up with severely distorted and slurred speech. Overtime the problem worsened and numerous tests could not point to a cause. Six years on there is still no treatment plan, however, in 2012 James was diagnosed with a neurological dysfunction disorder, known as Dystonia. The problem directed to his hands causing a lack of mobility and forcing James to leave his job as a plumber. Fitness became his lifeline and James got into amazing shape and is now a successful personal trainer and disability coach. Gaining an impressive social media following, this remarkable Bodybuilder uses his platform to highlight his hidden disability.

What were your thoughts on the other shortlisted nominees within your category?

I found everyone to have very inspiring stories. The work they put in, deserved to be recognised. In my eyes, everyone was a winner in the category.

What were your thoughts after winning The Positive Role Model Award for Disability?

I was in complete shock, but of course I was so happy. I honestly thought, I had no chance. Its such an amazing feeling, getting the recognition for a rare neurological condition. Also the work I do coaching disability clients, through fitness.

What reaction have you received from supporters/fellow employees since winning the award?

I have a big fan base over social media. So the reaction over all my social media links has been big, supportive, and very overwhelming. I’m being interviewed by the BBC with my wife about winning the award.

Now that you have won a National Diversity Award, what are you going to go from here? What are your next steps?

To keep doing what I’m doing and raising as much awareness for Dystonia. Open my own gym for people with disabilities. Become a worldwide motivational speaker. To hopefully publish my own book on my story to help inspire others, going through tough times.

In your own words, how do you feel the work you are carrying out is making a difference?

I can see I’m making a difference to peoples lives, I receive so many messages weekly, telling me so. From people all around the world in a similar position as myself. It’s just not from people who have Dystonia, but from people who have all different types of disabilities.

Why do you think it is important to highlight Diversity, Equality and Inclusion?

Because the world is made up of so many different people. The more diversity, equality and inclusion is shouted about. The more it is accepted in today’s society.

Who or What is your inspiration?

People who are going through difficult times with their disability. But they get on with their lives, not letting it stop them, from reaching their goals and dreams.

What were your thoughts on The National Diversity Awards Ceremony? Did you enjoy your evening?

I think the whole event is amazing. I found it all very overwhelming, in a good way. So many inspirational individuals under one roof. One of my best evening in my entire life. I would love to be involved again in the awards in the near future.


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