The Community Champions (Yorkshire Champions Group)
To visit our Yorkshire Champions Group website, go to www.yorkshirechampionsgroup.co.uk . From here, you can find out more information and book a Community Champion to visit your school.
The Community Champions are a team of diverse and very carefully selected individuals. They come from non-privileged backgrounds and some have experienced their own difficulties and hurdles in life. Gill Arnold (founder of the
Yorkshire Champions Group) has spent the last fifteen years as a serving magistrate in both Adult and Youth Court and has also been heavily involved with the Youth Charity JAMES. Over the years she has seen hundreds of children and young adults in every situation
Some from mainstream school, some that have been excluded, children with one parent, no parents, same-sex parents, parents who are working, not working, problems with drugs, alcohol and a whole spectrum of mental health issues in both youths and adults.
In addition, the ‘Looked After’ children in homes and in the care of the local authority, children with stable lives and those living in such horrendous situations you couldn’t possibly imagine.
However, every single one of them had something in common! With the right direction and support, they all had the potential to succeed at something, to some degree or other. Gill has never, in all her years as a magistrate, seen one child and thought that
they were a lost cause.
In our mainstream schools, some pupils seem to breeze through. They turn up, listen, take part, complete homework, pass exams and leave equipped to go on to better things. And then there are those students who struggle and have a very different view of
school life altogether. 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.
Often, with that kind of attitude comes disruption and disrespect in the classroom, ending in total frustration and hours of wasted time. The teachers who have prepared and planned specific lessons are sometimes almost considered a nuisance or perhaps someone
there to spoil their social interaction. And instead of teaching, it can end up policing a class, which then has a knock-on effect on those students who do grasp the point of education and want to learn.
Our aim is solely to support the school and the teachers. We all understand and appreciate what a difficult and stressful profession teaching can be. When a team member is invited into a school they will 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 in general.
Sometimes it can be as late as year 11 before reality sets in and they realise what opportunities they have missed. And they have nothing to carry forward in their ‘Educational Bank Account’.
By that Gill means, that every bit of effort and knowledge they retain now, is almost like banking invisible money. And without realising it, they are already preparing and contributing to this ‘Educational Bank Account’ which will pay dividends at a later
date. This will give them something to offer and enable them to have choices in life. In addition, it will prepare them to stand on their own two feet, take care of their families and feel like a worthwhile member of society.
Sometimes on the last day of school, after the initial euphoria comes deep disappointment, huge self-esteem issues, panic and then…what now?
Furthermore, if our Community Champions can help just some of these young people, to see the connection between, the value, effort and hard work they put in today and the opportunities that will open on leaving school with a full ‘Educational Bank Account’.
And finally, we would like them to understand and appreciate the teachers because they are in fact the gateway to a happy and successful future.
Our Community Champions:
Adeeba manages a number of social, educational and economic projects. She has extensive experience of working with public, private and third sector organizations on equality and diversity projects. She also has led projects in Pakistan in particular pre-departure
Adrian has been a senior leader since 2005, becoming a Head teacher in 2012, then CEO of Carlton Academy Trust in 2019.
Alastair Goldman - Senior Academic, past member of the Executive Board as Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Bradford
I am a Professor of Molecular Biology and have been Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences at Bradford over the last 5 years. Before that I was head of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in Sheffield, where I was an academic for 18 years.
Alison Lowe OBE
- Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime West Yorkshire
Alison Lowe is the West Yorkshire Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC). The DMPC works with the Mayor to oversee policing in the county, on behalf of the public.
Amerjeat Sarai - Education Partnerships Lead Officer
Amer has worked for Bradford Council since 1991 in roles that partner all members of the community.
Andrea Eli - Sales Director Banner Group Ltd
Andrea grew up on Canterbury Estate in the 70’s. Back then the estate was very much a community and everybody knew each other.
Lieutenant Colonel Andy Black - Army’s Head of Engagement for North East and Yorkshire, HQ 4th Infantry Brigade
Raised in the North East, a keen sportsman, secured an engineering apprenticeship on leaving school with a large employer.
Anne Newton - Technical Analyst at Yorkshire Water
Anne has worked as a graduate research chemist in the pharmaceutical industry and microbiologist in the water industry.
Ann-Marie Keighley - Marketing Manager at Schofield Sweeney
Whilst at college I worked part time in restaurants, take-aways and even in an ice cream kiosk.
Ben Paolozzi JP - Deputy Bench Chair (West Yorkshire) & Regional Digital Lead (North-East Region)
Ben is a former fire officer, retired from West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service after 31 years’ service in 2014.
- Managing Director Fagborun Limited
He is a former professional rugby league player for clubs including Huddersfield Giants, Batley Bulldogs, Sheffield Eagles, Rochdale Hornets and internationally for Nigeria in 2019.
I grew up in Essex. My Father was a salesman and my Mother did not work. No-one in our family had any medical connections or had been to university.
Catherine has been a police officer for 22 years and has only recently taken up post as ACC in West Yorkshire. Prior to that, she served with the Greater Manchester Police in a variety of roles and areas of policing.
Cathy Prior - Education Lead at Provident Financial Group
Cathy comes from a working-class background, born and bred in Bradford. Her dad was in the wool trade, mum worked part-time evenings at Provident. Cathy grew up in a typical terraced house in Clayton, where her mum still lives. They didn’t have much money,
but had a little backyard and they got by!
Major Christian Storey - British Army Officer in the Adjutant General’s Corps
'Born and Bred' in Bradford, Christian attended St Bede’s Grammar School, leaving school after completing his GCSEs in 2001. He did not continue onto A-Levels as at that time he had “no intention of going to university”, and instead completed a four-year
Mechanical Engineering Apprenticeship.
- Associate Director Outreach, Recruitment and Admissions - University of Bradford
In her current role as Associate Director Outreach, Recruitment and Admissions, Claire has both strategic and operational responsibility for the University of Bradford’s fully centralised enquiries and admissions functions, international student support
and UKVI compliance and outreach and student recruitment in the UK, Europe, and UK International markets.
- Police Inspector Neighborhood Policing Leeds
I was born and bred in Leeds and attended Intake high school, leaving after completing my GCSE in 1992. I did not do a levels but went onto college to BTEC in sport science as I was not academic and was passing time before joining the police, I had no intention
of going to university.
Daniel Balaz - Company Director/Head of Services Connecting Roma C.I.C
I have been a full time interpreter for over 10 years where I have managed to build an extensive portfolio and created important links. I have seen first-hand the barriers and challenges the Roma people face here in the UK.
Dave Walton - Deputy Chief Fire Officer – West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service
Dave has worked in the Fire & Rescue Service since 1985. His father was a Firefighter too and his birth certificate records his first home as Birmingham Central Fire Station.
David Coupe - Senior Partner EC3 Legal LLP
David was born in the early 60’s into the mining area of Wigan in Lancashire.
- General Manager, Midland Hotel, Peel Hotels
I grew up in Sheffield and after leaving school with No qualifications went to catering college at Castle College.
David had a company, providing training services to banks and businesses in banking and finance-related subjects. He worked delivering for larger providers such as the Financial Times, various UK universities and professional bodies.
David Wilford - CEO – Bramley Baths, Leeds
David was born on Broadstone Way in Holme Wood. He went to school locally, Dudley Hill Primary, Highfield Middle and Fairfax High School. David left school at 16 and went into textiles. He moved to London and has had a number of different roles, travelled
the world and moved back to his hometown of Bradford to make a difference. David has always inspired others to achieve their full potential.
Denise Stroud - Enthusiastic Artist and Interfaith Ambassador
Denise was born in West Yorkshire and is married to Richard Stroud MBE, she has a daughter and a son and 4 grandchildren. Family life and Family values are of paramount importance to her. Whilst her children were young Denise ran a fashion business from
Sir David Wootton was born and brought up in Bradford. He was educated at Bradford Grammar School, and at Jesus College, Cambridge, reading Classics and Law.
I grew up in the southern United States in Columbus, Georgia during the 1960s and 70s when there was tremendous turmoil occurring with the Cold War, the Vietnam War, Civil Rights and Desegregation.
- Head of Academy at CCS Media
After spending many years selling, Emma started working with the Academy, working with young people coaching them to how to sell and become Account Managers. After a couple of years doing this, she progressed to become the Head of Academy.
Faisal has worked for NatWest Bank since graduating from an Accountancy and Finance degree in 2002. He quickly progressed through a series of senior roles including Branch Manager, Business Manager prior to taking up his current role as Relationship Manager.
My passion is to encourage people to educate themselves. The focus is to raise awareness on the importance of education in society, children, our lives, women and all adults.
My parents came to Britain in 1966 and settled in Leeds where I grew up. Born the middle one of seven children, I've always been considered the peacemaker in the family. I enjoyed school but didn’t excel in my educational studies.
George was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, was educated at the Prince of Wales school (Sierra Leone) and studied at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, University of Waterloo Canada, University of Bradford, St John’s College Nottingham and Nottingham
Gigie Tuballa Fletcher - Civil servant HMCTS, Fitness Instructor and Model.
My name is Gigie Tuballa Fletcher. I was born in the Philippines and was educated in the Philippines as well as here in the UK.
Gill Arnold JP DL - Chairman of the West Yorkshire Bench &Vice Chairman of the Carlton Bolling Multi Academy Trust
Gill was born, bred and educated in Bradford and upon leaving education she spent around 13 years in the fashion industry. After having two daughters, she ran two businesses, which allowed her to work from home. Gill became a Magistrate in 2003.
Graham Sweeney - Chief Operating Officer at Schofield Sweeney Solicitors
Graham is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Schofield Sweeney Solicitors with overall responsibility for IT, Marketing, HR and pretty much anything else that is not legal work.
- Bursar and Clerk to the Governors, Bradford Grammar School
I was brought up in North London where my parents who were immigrants from Pakistan settled in the UK in the 1970s.
Richard is the resident judge of Bradford, following his appointment in August 2020.
Mr Ibrar Hussain Khan is the Consul General of Pakistan, Bradford.
Inderpal Singh Sagu, better known by his stage name Indy Sagu, is a renowned multi-award-winning music producer and creative director.
Jamaal Mahmood - Business Development Manager Lista UK
Jamaal has two young children and before work commitments increased, he took part as a Parent Governor within their school. Jamaal believes that the change will happen and being prepared for change is key to a happy working life.
James Hardy - Managing Director at CCS Media
James Hardy is the Managing Director for CCS Media Limited.
- CEO West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce
James Mason is the current Chief Executive of the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce. As a businessman in his own right, James (44), joined the Chamber in May 2022 after holding a number of high profile roles throughout his career to date.
Jasbir Athwal is a driven and enthused business consultant who is keen to help businesses of all sizes reach their potential by providing strategic advice and practical solutions.
Jason Hirst - Bradford Bulls Chief Executive Officer
A proud, born and bred Bradfordian, who has lived and worked in and around the city, his whole life. 30 years management and leadership experience, across a broad range of sectors.
- Company Director of Story Film and Photography
Lived most of my life in Bradford. Flunked my A-levels at school, mostly through laziness. Came out with 1 pass, just, in History. Worked in odd jobs for 2 years before deciding I needed to do more with my life.
- Solicitor advocate and director at Petherbridge Bassra
I'm a criminal defence solicitor who practises mainly in the Crown Court as an advocate.
John Roberts - Chief Fire Officer, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service
John has over 25 years’ experience in the Fire and Rescue Service. John joined Merseyside Fire Brigade as a Firefighter in 1997 and progressed through the ranks working operationally as a Leading Firefighter, Sub Officer and Station officer.
John Robbins QPM DL - Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police
John has over 32 years of policing experience, all in West Yorkshire Police. John was appointed as a Constable in West Yorkshire Police in 1990.
Karen Cruise - Chief Executive. Flourished Minds Ltd
I was born and grew up in Chapeltown, Leeds, where back in the 1960s & 70s you were stereotyped as a black child for all the wrong reasons.
- UK & EU Student Recruitment Manager at University of Bradford
Katie has worked at the University of Bradford since 2013, initially in the careers department but now manages the UK and EU Student Recruitment Team. This role enables Katie to champion strategies linked to raising aspirations and promoting higher education
across the UK and Europe, a significant part of Katie’s role also involves working to reduce gaps between those most, and least, represented in higher education.
Kelly Deegan - Relationship Support Manager – Barclays Bank
Kelly focuses on progressing her career and developing her knowledge within the banking sector.
Kiel Townend - General Sales Manager at CCS Media
Kiel grew up in Eccleshill and after leaving school without a real idea of a career, he joined Shipley College to complete a GNVQ in Leisure and Tourism, with the thought of possibly becoming a PE teacher.
Pen Picture : Current Appointments, Proprietor of Britannia Care, The First Purpose Built Nursing Home in 1990, Founder Governor & Immediate Past Chairman of Bradford Academy
Mark Burns-Williamson OBE - Former West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner
Mark was born in Castleford and started his working life as an apprentice stonemason working for Wakefield County Council, whilst also studying civil engineering at Leeds Building College. During the 1980s he was also Shop Steward for building union UCATT
where he represented 200 workers.
- Co-Founder & Director at Exa Networks
Mark has around 20 years’ experience in the ISP sector. Mark was a member of the BID Development Board and is currently a member of Bradford Breakthrough, and on the Leadership Group for the Chamber of Commerce.
A Coronial appointment is a great privilege and a role Martin takes most seriously. The key to his position is developing strong, lasting relationships with the local community.
Matt Wilson- Founder of IDIFM Personal Training, Life Coaching and Mentoring.
I have built my career as a personal trainer and strength coach since 2016 after being made redundant by my former employer.
Michael Cracknell - Business Development Manager at Schofield Sweeney Solicitors
Michael has worked in law firms and accountancy for 20 years, purely in marketing, BD and comms roles (e.g. not as a lawyer).
Mohammad Ali - Senior IT Account Manager at CCS Media
Born and raised in Bradford, Mohammed grew up in a Council estate area, living with his family of seven.
Nick Garthwaite - Managing Director of Christeyns Ltd
Born in London in 1957, Nick has spent most of his life so far in Yorkshire, and thus would like to be considered an honorary Yorkshireman!
Nirmal Singh MBE FRSA - Chairman - The Sekhon Group, Chairman - The Yorkshire Sikh Forum & Property Development
Nirmal Singh is best known locally, regionally and nationally as the manufacturer of quilts through his former business, Nirmal Razai Mart & Company Ltd, which he started a few years after he came from India with £3 to his credit.
Osman Khan - Temporary Assistant Chief Constable at West Yorkshire Police
Osman is a Police Officer within West Yorkshire. He is currently the Temporary Assistant Chief Constable who is responsibility for Specialist Crime with his substantive role being the District Commander for Bradford.
Co-Chair of Georgetown University City Alliance. London-based Senior Professional Networking group. Most successful emerging fundraising initiative globally for University.
Peter studied law by correspondence course and at the Inns of Court School of Law from 1973-1975.
Philip Davies MP - Member of Parliament for Shipley
Philip graduated from Huddersfield University with an Upper Second-Class Honours degree in Historical and Political Studies.
Raj Kumar - Solicitor - RKN Solicitors
Raj was born in India on 21/11/1961. He grew up near Bombay (Mumbai), then moved to Delhi when he was around 13 years old. Raj came to England when he was around 15 years of age in 1975.
In 2008, Richard was appointed as a magistrate on the Bradford and Keighley bench and is continuing to serve the Bradford community.
Rob Omar - Director of Academies at CCS Media Ltd
Rob has worked at CCS Media for over 18 years and has held most sales roles within the organisation. His current role is to head up the academies and apprenticeship programmes, bringing talent into the business.
Ruwena Khan - Barrister at Park Square Barristers
Ruwena was born in Cheshire and studied at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls where she undertook A Levels in Maths, French, History and General Studies.
Sabbiyah Pervez - Community Reporter at BBC Look North
Sabbiyah is one of six girls who faced cultural barriers. She is a passionate feminist and an advocate for young people.
Saleem Kader - Managing Director of the Bombay Stores Wholesale Group
Founding member of leading textile business in Bradford
Bombay Stores - established in Bradford since 1967
- Barrister at Park Square Barristers Chambers, Leeds.
I am a barrister specialising in crime and currently practise on the North Eastern Circuit. I am instructed on a wide range of criminal law matters including sexual offences, violent offences and drugs.
Sana Khan - Account Manager at CCS Media
Sana is an enthusiastic 24 year old, British Pakistani female. She has been through various job types within the Health Care industry. Sana studied Level 3 Health & Social Care as well as Level 3 Business & Management.
Thomson - Chief Technology Office (CTO) Adiona
I have worked in the analytical arena for more than 25 years. 15 years of experience in insurance, the majority working for AVIVA and leading brokers
Sharena Lee Satti - Poet, Spoken Word artist, Educator
Sharena Lee Satti is an independent Artist, Poet, Author, Spoken word artist and Workshop facilitator. She is really passionate about poetry and self-expression through creative art and spoken word.
Sharon is currently one of the Directors of TechATP, a Microsoft Education Partner. She used to work for Microsoft and prior to that, she was with Santander, establishing the fast growth SME accelerator program called Breakthrough.
Shazia Awan - Radio Program Developer/Learning Support Assistant at Beckfoot Thornton Academy
Shazia comes from a hardworking Pakistani Asian Immigrant family whose father came to the UK at the age of 12 and was a mill worker until he succeeded in the Restaurant/Takeaway business, her mother has always been a housewife.
As Vice-Chancellor, Professor Shirley Congdon is responsible for the University of Bradford’s leadership and management, including the development and delivery of its values and strategic ambitions.
Simmy Sekhon - Managing Director of The Sekhon Group
Simmy Sekhon is a dynamic lawyer turned property entrepreneur who initially started as a sole practitioner solicitor trading as Sekhon Firth Solicitors. Within five years Simmy grew the practice to approximately 140 staff. Simmy sold the practice in 2010
to concentrate on Commercial Property Development and has been growing the portfolio extensively.
Simon Hinchliffe - Headmaster at Bradford Grammar
Simon started work at Bradford Grammar School in September 2014 as the Deputy Head and became the Headmaster in January 2016. Before that he worked at Wolverhampton Grammar School, starting in 2000, his first teaching job.
Simone Reid (MSc) - Managing Director and Personal & Leadership
Coach, Founding Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Dandelion Organisation Ltd, Transformational Speaker and Success Strategist
They say the first 5-7 years of each person’s life are the most formative. These the ones with the life-long capacity to define our academic experience, quality of adult relationships, career prospects and so much more.
Suzanne Watson - Managing Director, Approach PR Ltd, President of Bradford Chamber of Commerce
Suzanne Watson is the founder and managing director of Yorkshire public relations and social media agency, Approach PR Ltd, which represents clients in the manufacturing, retail and professional services sectors.
In 2011, Tahir was appointed one of Her Majesty’s Counsel (Queen’s Counsel) and since then, his practice has been almost exclusively in prosecuting and defending cases of the utmost complexity and seriousness. These include murder, complex fraud, and terrorism
Tanzila Samun - Finance Business Partner – Department of Work and Pensions
I am a Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA) with over 8 years of experience within Public Sector Finance across the NHS and the Civil Service. I
Tasif Khan - World Champion Boxer
Tasif Khan has always been supporting young disengaged people from the local community to become better individuals through the discipline and self-control that is nurtured through boxing.
Thomas Whitford-Bartle - Alumni Engagement Officer at University of Bradford
Thomas is an Alumni Engagement Officer at the University of Bradford.
Tim Rogers - Director and founder of the Yorkshire Space & Satellite Centre
Born and raised in Bradford, Tim did an undergraduate degree at Bradford University and a postgraduate degree at Leeds University. Tim currently works with children within the Yorkshire Space & Satellite Centre.
Tracy Brabin - Mayor of West Yorkshire
Tracy Brabin is a British Labour and Co-operative politician who was elected as the first Mayor of West Yorkshire, and the first ever woman Metro Mayor in May 2021.
Dr Trevor Higgins - Chief Executive Officer of Bradford Breakthrough
Trevor is Bradford born, bred and educated. He was brought up in a happy, family of nine in a three bedroomed council semi on the edge of an estate.
Victoria Hartford - Director of Primary in the Carlton Academy Trust
Victoria was born in Manchester, her mum was 16 and we lived on a council estate called Limeside which was affectionately referred to as Crimeside.
Virginia Lloyd - Sales Director, Solicitor and Deputy Lieutenant, President of the West Yorkshire Business Branch of the RNLI
Virginia has worked with her husband for the past 32 years in a manufacturing and property business. She is the current President of the RNLI West Yorkshire Business Branch.
Yunus Mayat - IT Specialist at Bradford Council
Yunus has worked for Bradford Council for the last 13 years in the Information, Communication and Technology Department. He was seconded to IBM and Serco under the Strategic IT Partnership from 2005 – 2015, delivering IT Services to Bradford Council.
Zaf was born and raised in Lidget Green, Bradford. Zaf’s father was a mill worker and his mother is a housewife, who is now widowed. Zaf comes from a family of six, four brothers and two sisters. Zafs family was a typical working-class family living in
the inner city of Bradford.
Professor Zahir Irani studied Manufacturing Systems Engineering at the University of Salford before working as a Project Engineer in Bolton.
If you wish to book a Community Champion to visit your school please email Fatimah Hussain at
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