WE ARE all born in a similar manner and on the same planet…no one is born intelligent as intelligence is nurtured. I want everyone to believe that they can be what they want to be, whatever their sex, age or ethnicity.”

These memorable words are delivered to a class of attentive pupils at a Bradford school by Faiza Ali, who in 2009 became the youngest Muslim magistrate in the UK and is now a lawyer.

The former Laisterdyke High School and Yorkshire Martyrs Catholic College pupil worked hard at school and in further education to achieve success in her chosen field. Specialising in civil cases, in particular personal injury, she hopes eventually to become a judge.

Another of her aims is to inspire children and young people into believing that they too can fulfil their dreams.

Faiza, 33, is among a number of volunteers invited into schools across the district to inspire students.

Bradford Community Champions speak to pupils at primary and secondary schools about their own journeys and aim to inspire, encourage and motivate them.

School was of vital importance to putting Faiza on the right path, and in particular her A-level law tutor Christine Webster, now head of sixth form at Tong High School.

“She provided the best quality teaching and supported me, not just practically through education but also emotionally. She always encouraged me to think creatively and face challenges head on and most importantly believed in me. It was her belief that had an enormous impact on my self-esteem and self-concept.”

The champions aim to try and change the attitude and the way some students feel about education in general and allow them to see what is possible.

Faiza, who has three degrees - one undergraduate and two postgraduate - had an interest in the judiciary from a young age. “Since my juvenile years, I devoted a substantial portion of my attention to the legal system.,” she says. “Ambition for me was to set goals, challenging the status quo and pushing boundaries.”

A mother herself, with children aged six, three and three months, she has always been supported by her family. “It was instilled in me at a young age to push myself forward in order to excel in my career and they have supported my ambitions and studies,” she says.

She is proud of what she has achieved. “It feels great, but I do feel that the credit goes to my parents for supporting me, for trusting me to be out there in the real world and trust my decisions to allow everything I have wanted to do.

“I knew my goal was ambitious and challenging but also achievable. I was fortunate to have quite a privileged upbringing. My family laid great emphasis on imparting and receiving knowledge.”

Being female affected the way she felt when working towards her goals. “The hardest part was to believe I could achieve them with so few female leaders at the top of the judicial profession,” she says.

One woman who has made it in that male-dominated world acted as a role model - Leeds-born Lady Brenda Hale, a judge serving as president of the Supreme Court since 2017 and the only woman to have been appointed to this position.

“Her drive and passion in her career gives me courage and inspiration,” says Faiza.

In her champions role she recently spoke to pupils at Byron Primary School, where her two younger brothers - one a commercial pilot, the other training to be a dentist - were pupils.

“I like sharing experiences and expertise,” says Faiza, “It is a great honour and a pleasure for me to be involved.”

Giving something back to the community in which she grew up is also important to her.

Bradford Community Champions was set up by Gill Arnold JP, deputy chairman of the West Yorkshire Magistrates’ Bench.

Administered by Bradford Council, other champions include boxer Tasif Khan, Sabbiyah Pervez from Look North, QED deputy chief executive Adeeba Malik, Mark Burns-Williamson, the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Judge Jonathan Rose, plus many other professionals from different fields including the music business, IT and finance.

Many of the champions come from non-privileged backgrounds and have overcome difficulties and hurdles in life.

They also talk about an Educational Bank Account, telling students that the knowledge and experience they gain in school is like an invisible currency that can be banked and spent later in life. The more they have in their account when they leave school, the more options they will have.

Faiza became involved with Bradford Community Champions through Gill, who she has known for many years.

Gill, who grew up in Bradford, says: “ I believe that with the right motivation and support, every child has the potential to succeed at something.

“Unfortunately, I have seen many young people who lack confidence and ambition and believe the good things, the good jobs, are for other people, not the likes of them.

“I wanted to try and change that attitude and thought that getting successful local people in front of our schoolchildren was a good way to give them that belief. There is a phrase, ‘you have to see it to be it’ and that sums up well the idea behind the project.”

Champions talk about their own journeys but also endeavour to inspire, encourage and motivate their audience. “We would like to try and change the attitude and the way some students feel about education.

“A lot of the young people are not aware that successful people come from places like them, from similar backgrounds to them, and weren’t necessarily top of the class.

“To see a real person who has had to overcome challenges can be very powerful. It can broaden their horizons, raise their aspirations and open their eyes to the vast range of jobs and careers that are open to them. It is good for young people to see that there are many different forms of success and many different ways of achieving it.

“We have a wonderful list of champions - more than 30 of the most fascinating and impressive people in the district from a diverse range of backgrounds.

“All donate their time for nothing and we do not struggle to recruit. In fact we have a waiting list. It is one of the great things about the Bradford district that there is no shortage of brilliant and inspirational people willing to support and encourage our young people.”

She adds: “Some pupils seem to breeze through school. They turn up, listen, take part, complete homework, pass exams and leave equipped to go on to better things. And then there are those who struggle and have a very different view of school life, whether it be through immaturity, lack of self-esteem, little or no family support, motivation or just the general inability to grasp the importance of what is on offer.”

The Educational Bank Account is a concept to help pupils see what they will take away from school when they leave. “It is about them seeing the value of getting all they can from school and being a well-rounded person.

“The fuller the account, the more options they will have. It is not just about grades, they can deposit things such as general knowledge, leadership, teamwork, organisational and presentation skills.

“It is about letting them know that what they do today will pay off tomorrow. And what they don’t do today, they may regret later.”

She adds: “It is a sad fact that for many young people across the district there are issues of deprivation and disadvantage. What the project can do is help build their confidence, motivation and belief that they can achieve and shouldn’t limit their ambitions.”