Unsung heroes of British life are praised by Apprentice star at Wizo awards

Claude Littner: 'In the real world, there are people who give tirelessly and care for others. They do so without any fanfare, without seeking recognition'


The achievements of 20 social activists who “give tirelessly to others without seeking fanfare” were celebrated at this week’s Wizo Commitment Awards.

The awards recognise people from all faiths and communities who have demonstrated “outstanding commitment to changing lives and building futures”.

Award categories included inspiring women, promoting multiculturalism on university campuses and the workplace, and contribution to music and the arts.

The ceremony was hosted by Claude Littner — a long-time adviser to Lord Sugar on The Apprentice —and comedian Josh Howie at Westminster Synagogue in Knightsbridge.

Mr Littner contrasted the winners’ “genuine endeavour” to those who have found fame through reality shows and social media exposure.

“Celebrity is all the rage and someone who appears on a television programme like Love Island suddenly becomes a VIP,” he said.

“Social media now propels these people into the limelight, although in truth most of these people have achieved nothing and contributed nothing.

“In the real world, there are people who give tirelessly and care for others and their well-being. And they do so without any fanfare, without seeking recognition for their genuine endeavour.

“It’s very special to shine a warm light on some extraordinary people who have made a huge difference to the lives of others. They make our world a better place for all of us.”

Aviva Braunold, Shlomo Weltman and Hadassa Kessler, working for learning disability charity Kisharon, won the award for commitment to vocational training.

The trio were honoured for delivering a further education scheme geared towards helping adults gain vocational skills and find employment.

“We don’t see people as having a learning disability,” Ms Braunold said. “We see them as people who have so much potential.

“Every person has the ability to do what they would like to. We work with very inspiring people who have shown us ways to be motivated and to work in the community.”

Rachel Fidler, who established Finchley Reform Synagogue’s pioneering tech summer day camp, was honoured for inspiring future scientists and high tech professionals.

Her “geeky, funny, tech-hungry” son, who is autistic, motivated her “to create a project to allow him to have wonderful free days in a Jewish environment, mixing with others and doing what he loves most — coding”.

The JC-sponsored award for commitment to responsible and balanced reporting was presented to Jake Wallis Simons, currently at the Mail Online, who was joined on stage by former Panorama journalist John Ware to discuss media coverage of Israel and the Middle East conflict.

Recalling his experiences reporting on the Israeli army, he said the IDF’s humanitarian aid work was a “story that is not told very much.

“Objectivity should be at the heart of what you do,” he added. “It’s a great honour to receive an award for objectivity, which is often in short supply.”

Priya Lakhani was recognised for outstanding contribution to education, a special category introduced to honour her work, which uses advanced data and artificial intelligence to revolutionise learning.

The award for impacting the future went jointly to Marice Cumber and Claudette Brown. Ms Brown is head chef at the Passage, the largest voluntary sector homeless centre in the heart of the capital. Adina Belloli was recognised for promoting healthy eating; Anna Lawton for commitment to social action.

Florence Taglight, an advocate for awareness of anorexia, was recognised for commitment to the betterment of others.

Other winners included Jo Garland, for sharing expertise and creating opportunities; Gesher’s Sarah Sultman and Ali Durban, for their commitment to early years education; and Hannah Style, for her social enterprise, Feast.

Khulan Dav — honoured alongside Avrahum Sanger for combating anti-Zionism on the Soas campus — said bringing Israeli and Palestinian students together had been “an amazing journey”.

Receiving the award for commitment to growth through music and the arts, Tom Hancox said: “It is so important we can share the joy and power of live music.”

Mr Hancox is chief executive of Cavatina, which introduces chamber music to schoolchildren.

He paid tribute to “Jewish philanthropy and the community” for supporting the charity.

Liverpool’s Blackburne House, a women’s training centre, was honoured for promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

The award for inspiring women went to Esther Marshall, the founder of Stand Tall, a charity helping girls and women who have suffered abuse.

“It took me nine years to talk about the abuse I suffered in a relationship,” she revealed. “I hope I can teach girls and women that they are who they are and they should be proud of themselves.”

Founded 100 years ago as the Women’s International Zionist Organisation, Wizo supports a plethora of welfare projects in Israel. The charity will take the award winners on a fact-finding trip to Israel later this year.


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