A FEMALE hijab-wearing boxer, an 18-year-old faith-inspired singer with a global audience and a visual effects manager who works on Stars Wars movies are among two dozen Bradford candidates shortlisted for a top award tonight.

Saffiyah Syeed, Ismail Hussain and Umar Hussain are among almost 40 young people aged 18-30 vying for a trophy in the 13 categories at the Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers Awards – The YAYAs – this evening.

More than two-thirds of the awe-inspiring candidates shortlisted are from Bradford district.

The virtual ceremony will be broadcast online at 7pm and is open for anyone to view by going to: https://yaya2020.sparq.me.uk/

The webcast, which is being hosted by BBC TV and Radio presenter and stand-up comedian Noreen Khan, has been created to replace an awards dinner which should have taken place earlier in the year but was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Mohammed Ali OBE, founder and chief executive of the QED Foundation, which launched the awards scheme to mark its 30th anniversary, said: “We have worked extremely hard to ensure that this online broadcast will be a fabulous event and a worthy showcase for the brilliant candidates.

“The standard of entries from across Yorkshire has been fantastic and it’s been great to see so many brilliant candidates from Bradford and district. We’re not surprised – because we know there is an enormous amount of talent here – but it’s great to be able to share these stories with a wider audience and shine a light that highlights young people and their successes and achievements in such a positive way.

“There are many truly humbling stories of young people overcoming difficult circumstances to carve out a future for themselves and I can promise you the webcast event will be the perfect antidote to a dark and gloomy lockdown evening!”

The YAYAs are open to any young person of South Asian heritage (Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi etc) who was born in, or lives and works in, Yorkshire.

They are aimed at those socially-mobile young achievers who have overcome deprivation and disadvantage or have broken through traditional barriers to progress and have the potential to be role models who can inspire others to follow them.

The award categories include Achievement in School or College; Health/Mental Health and Healthcare; The Arts & Creative industries; Business, Management, Finance or Law; Media; Education; the Public Sector; the Not-for-Profit Sector; Female Achievement in Traditionally Male Work Areas; Achievement as a Female Entrepreneur; Sport; and Achievement in Overcoming Life Obstacles.

Councillor Imran Khan, portfolio holder for education, employment and skills at Bradford Council, said: “We want to acknowledge the fantastic achievements that so many young people make across our region, often after overcoming deprivation and disadvantage.

"They are an inspiration to all of us and they deserve the recognition these awards bring.”

Working in association with their headline partners, York St John University, the YAYAs have been organised by the Bradford-based QED Foundation, a registered charity which exists to improve the social and economic position of disadvantaged communities in partnership with public, private and civil society organisations. It has been creating opportunities for all since 1990.

They will culminate in the award of the overall Young Achiever of the Year 2020 title.

Rob Hickey, chief operating officer at York St John University, said: “York St John University are proudly supporting the YAYAs as we see the importance of recognising excellence. The YAYAs highlight examples of personal endeavour, selfless determination and breaking barriers; qualities which we value and look to replicate in what we do. We are certain that the YAYA awards will grow and develop over coming years and we look forward to supporting their journey.”

Sponsors and supporters of the awards include: The RAF, the National Science & Media Museum, Barnardo’s, KCB, the University of Bradford, NatWest bank, Bradford Council, Trinity College London, Squire Patton Boggs, the University of York, Leeds City Council, Local IQ, West Yorkshire Police and the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner, Exa Networks, Sovereign Health Care, Cedar Court Hotels, My Lahore, Banner, BITE and One Stop.