Buckinghamshire councillors scoop national award for emergency services support during lockdown

Three Buckinghamshire councillors have received national recognition for supporting emergency service workers with a free curry night during the first coronavirus lockdown.

Aylesbury councillors Niknam Hussain, Raj Khan and Waheed Raja where all honoured last night (26 November) at the virtual LGIU Councillor Awards ceremony where they won the 'Collaborative Working' award for their efforts.

The trio, working with a local catering company and an army of volunteers, helped to transport and hand-deliver 130 hot curries to staff at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury police station and Aylesbury fire station. But that was just the beginning as they went on to deliver over 400 meals every week to the homeless and to Aylesbury Vineyard foodbank for distribution, as well continuing to deliver to front line emergency staff, continuously for nearly 15 weeks.

Speaking on behalf of the three winners, Waheed Raja said it was an honour to be recognised. "Like thousands of others who supported during lockdown, we just got people together and came up with the curry night idea. We knew how hard emergency service workers were working and we just wanted to do our bit to help out. After all, who doesn't like a tasty curry!

"Things just developed after the first night, so we carried on helping wherever we could. If you can, you've just got to step in and help out in what were exceptional circumstances for everyone."

Waheed added, "Thanks must also go to all the drivers and staff who gave their time free, as well as the caterers for providing the cooked food at cost. Also, not forgetting the numerous local businesses that voluntarily came forward to sponsor some of the food runs."

Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member, Mark Shaw, who supported the nomination, said it was a great example of what councillors do best. "What a great initiative," he said. "I know how much these meals were appreciated by our local emergency service workers and through the local foodbank to those most in need. A simple idea with a huge impact and my congratulations to Raj, Niknam and Waheed for what they achieved."

Presenting the virtual award, Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive of the LGIU said: "I would like to extend my most sincere congratulations to all three Buckinghamshire councillors and thank them for their commitment to local government. We look forward to hearing more about their continued accomplishments in the future.”