From Vikings of York to Akbars of Bradford: how the face of Yorkshire has changed

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ASIAN BUSINESS leaders have paid tribute to “the splendid country of Yorkshire” for giving migrants the opportunity and motivation to succeed in business.

Speaking at the Yorkshire Asian Business Association annual awards, Rajeev Dewedi said Asians brought the concept of being prepared to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to the UK.

“That’s what everybody is doing today and that’s the key of success,” he told the audience of first, second and third generation Asian entrepreneurs at the glittering awards ceremony in Bradford.

Mr Dewedi, of Rajeev Accountants, added: “From Vikings of York to Akbars of Bradford or Mullaco of Dewsbury, the face of Yorkshire has changed over the years and so has the landscape.”

Amjad Pervez, the founding partner of the Seafresh food group, was one of the winners.

He said: “I’m from the second generation of Asians and I must pay respect to the founders, the original pioneers, the first wave of immigrants my father’s age, who couldn’t speak a word of English, didn’t understand the culture or the economy but they were focused on one thing - to better their family.

“Those are the people who regenerated the economy of Yorkshire and Bradford. My generation and the next generation that are coming, we stand on their shoulders.”

Mr Pervez said entrepreneurs can succeed if they have have the right formula, network, employees and marketing, but they also have a wider responsibility to society.

He said: “If you look at the refugee crisis that is happening and the role that Western allies have played, we have to take a wider responsibility in terms of how we help the poor in the community.

“Yes, we can all be successful but lending your hand to those people who were where I was in 1969-70 when I came to this country... when we forget our roots and just go for money I think we have lost our soul.”

Mr Pervez told the audience to “think of the global village because we have an interconnected world”.

The judging panel included Tory peer Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, internet pioneer Ajaz Ahmed and regional IoD director Natalie Sykes.

They presented special awards to Andleeb Hanif, co-founder of the Asian Express newspaper, Nazir Ahmed, founder of Parklane Properties, and Sir Gary Verity, the tourism chief.

Ms Hanif founded Asian Express with husband Nadim 15 years ago. Today, the newspaper claims a circulation of 1.6m.

She said: “When we came together, we realised there was great misrepresentation and underrepresentation of ethnic communities in the UK and our vision matured and we decided that we were responsible for the image of South Asians who live and work in Britain. It’s with that passion that we continue what we do.”

The other winners were Ahmed Mulla of Mullaco Dewsbury, Bobby Patel of Prashad, Qari Asim of DLA Piper, Sukhvinder Javeed of Milkysnugz, Zak Patel of Talk Direct amd Arnab Basu of Kromek Group.

Tommy Sandhu, the BBC radio DJ, presented the event at Cedar Court Hotel alongside David Parkin, the Yorkshire media personality.

Special guests included Jitendra Kumar Sharma, the Consul General of India. He said: “It is so heartening to see the success of Asian businesses in Yorkshire.”

Mr Dewedi gave the vote of thanks. He said: “While we are proud and pleased to see Yorkshire Asians flourishing in their various endeavours, we also would like to pay tribute to the UK and the splendid country of Yorkshire for giving our businessmen and women the opportunity, the motivation and above all the success they have all achieved until today and all that they will achieve in generations to come.”