Islington civic awards 2018: Meet the fantastic four who will be named best of the borough tonight
PUBLISHED: 14:49 15 March 2018 | UPDATED: 14:29 16 March 2018
A remarkable teenager who travelled to Britain on his own and now helps give a voice to kids in care leads the pack at tonight's civic awards.
Artur Ahmati, 17, will be joined by a green champion, a stalwart leisure centre volunteer and a big-hearted Mildmay community worker at a glittering town hall ceremony.
The annual event is a highlight of the borough’s calendar – a chance for Islington to say thank you to some of its most inspirational and altruistic unsung heroes.
Islington mayor Cllr Una O’Halloran will hand three civic awards to adults for their invaluable contributions to the Islington community.
She will also give one exceptional young person – this year, Artur – the Ben Kinsella Award.
The accolade is named in honour of the 16-year-old Holloway schoolboy tragically stabbed to death in 2008.
It goes to someone who has overcome adversity, inspired others or gone above and beyond to help the community.
The mayor said: “Across Islington there are so many people who are an inspiration to others, and make a real difference to our communities.
“Our civic awards are a way of saying ‘thank you’ to these exceptional people who contribute so much.”
Patrick Green, Ben Kinsella Trust manager, told the Gazette: “We are so pleased that 10 years on from Ben’s tragic murder that the Ben Kinsella Award continues to recognise and celebrate the outstanding contribution that young people make to this borough and the lives of many of its residents.
“This award salutes the bravery, determination and good work done by young people to help and enrich the lives of others. The Ben Kinsella Trust hopes it will inspire many more young people to make positive contributions to their community.”
Last year’s winners included a cadet, a drummer and a festival organiser. As always, the 2018 awards were picked out by the serving mayor with the help of Deputy Lieutenant Charles Goodson-Wickes and Gazette editor Ramzy Alwakeel. The Gazette is honoured to sponsor the awards.
Ramzy said: “News can be a bleak industry and sometimes journalists need cheering up. But the civic awards remind me how much good is done every day in our borough, often without anyone paying attention. We can and should all learn from these fantastic people.”
The Ben Kinsella Award: Artur Ahmati
Artur Ahmati, 17, is the winner of the Ben Kinsella Award 2018.
He takes the gong for his contributions to the Child Active Involvement Service, which is there to improve the lives of young people in care.
It’s made even more remarkable by the fact he only arrived in Britain from Albania last year, having travelled alone.
Since then, he’s been volunteering to help social workers amplify the voices of young people in Islington.
From speaking at the council’s Corporate Parenting Board to being a member of CAIS Council and working on Islington’s Pledges and Care Leavers Charter, Artur has achieved some inspiring things in a very short space of time.
Artur said: “I was really, really happy when I heard about the award. It wasn’t something I was waiting for.
“My favorite thing about living in Islington is that everything is around, so you don’t need to travel far. Where I lived before you needed to travel so far to get anywhere but here everything is easier.”
Kathy Green is a familiar face in Archway – having been a customer representative at Archway Leisure Centre for 22 years.
Kathy, 68, is originally from Northumberland but has has lived in Islington for 44 years. But she’s adamant her time down south hasn’t diminished her Northern friendliness.
“I’ve not lost that saying ‘good morning’ to people or striking up conversations in the supermarket,” she told the Gazette.
“People say: ‘You know everybody,’ but it’s just because I speak to people.”
One of her recent achievements was getting the pool temperature raised to make it more accessible for older customers.
“All the elderly ladies are coming back again because the pool temperature is warmer,” she said.
“I do try and fight their corner.”
A humble hero, Kathy said: “I’m shocked to win this award but I’m really proud to work in such as friendly place. It’s an Archway hub.”
Linda Brown has lived in Islington since 1969 and has been a volunteer chair for the South Mildmay Tenants Co-operative – which is her housing association – for over a decade.
Linda, 67, also works with Mildmay Community Partnership, which works against poverty and promotes skills training programmes.
Linda said: “It was a big, big shock to hear I had won an award and I’ll never trust the girl I work with again! I never had a clue. I was just amazed. I do what I do and you just don’t realise that people appreciate it to that extent.
“I help out a complete mix of people. I just like people. I like being with people and I do think I make a difference.
“I drive and sometimes if people need shopping I just do all that.”
Linda worked at St Jude’s playgroup for 16 years before retiring.
She said: “I think when I gave up work I was just at a loose end. I suppose it was perhaps too much time on my hands, really.”
Rosey Lyall has dedicated thousands of hours to transforming Islington’s green spaces, so more families in London’s most densely populated borough can get a taste of nature.
In 2008, Rosey became a co-founder and trustee of The Garden Classroom, a charity and non-profit organisation that connects kids in cities with the greenery around them.
Volunteer Rosey, 67, has helped The Garden Classroom raise nearly £1million, allowing it to offer low-cost outdoor experiences like watching bees make honey and performing Shakespeare in the park to Islington’s youngsters.
Rosey said: “I’m amazed, as I didn’t even know I had been nominated. But I’m thrilled that the work of The Garden Classroom could be recognised,
“The Garden Classroom makes a really profound contribution to the wellbeing of Islington children, young people and families and I’m really proud and thrilled that’s been recognised.”
The charity now operates in 14 parks across Islington, including King Henry’s Walk Garden, Gillespie Park and Newington Green.