A 100-year-old man from Bow in east London will be awarded the Freedom of the City of London today (21 October), after raising £420,000 to help people who have contracted, or been affected by, Covid-19 in the UK and Bangladesh.
Drawing inspiration from Captain Sir Tom Moore’s fundraising efforts for the NHS, Dabirul Islam Choudhury walked 970 lengths of his communal garden during the lockdown in April and May, while fasting for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The award of the Freedom of the City of London will be presented to Mr Choudhury during a ‘virtual’ ceremony at his home at 11am today, attended by his nominators, City Corporation Elected Members, Munsur Ali and Prem Goyal, and Baroness Udin, and the High Commissioner for Bangladesh.
It was announced this month that Mr Choudhury has been awarded an O.B.E. in Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, in recognition of his achievement.
Mr Choudhury’s fundraising has supported two major causes – NHS Charities Together, and Ramadan Family Commitment, run by UK-based free-to-air Channel S TV (which is aimed at the British Bangladeshi community), with the money distributed to charitable organisations in the UK, Bangladesh, and over 50 other countries around the world.
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City of London Corporation Elected Member, Munsur Ali, said: “Dabirul’s admission into the Freedom of the City of London will give us great pleasure today, because it recognises this outstanding achievement at such a great age and devotion to this worthy cause during these very challenging times.
“Prem Goyal and I are delighted to nominate Dabirul and send our warmest wishes to him and his family who, we feel sure, are rightly proud of his fundraising efforts.”
Atique Choudhury, Dabirul’s son, said: “I would like to thank the Lord Mayor, Munsur Ali, and Prem Goyal, for their kind support in giving this prestigious award to my father, who will accept it on behalf of all the senior citizens of London and immigrants who came to London and have made this city so vibrant and multi-cultural.“My father wishes that we all support the most vulnerable during this very difficult time.”
Mr Choudhury moved to London in 1957, settling in St. Albans, and began working as a community leader. His son, Atique, recalls that his father was the first Bangladeshi person to make his home in the town, and also set up the first Indian restaurant in St. Albans in the early 1960s.
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