Shining the spotlight on Hillingdon's unsung heroes

Tuesday 14 March 2023: Hillingdon Council celebrated 24 residents and organisations this evening (Tuesday 14 March) for their bravery, volunteering and community work at its annual Community Awards.

Leader, Mayor and Chief Executive with all the winners from the 2023 Hillingdon Community Awards
The winners were invited to a special ceremony at the council's Civic Centre, Uxbridge where their stories, commitment and contribution to the borough were recognised.  

The Hillingdon Community Awards were presented by the Mayor of Hillingdon, Cllr Becky Haggar; Leader of Hillingdon Council, Cllr Ian Edwards; and Interim Chief Executive of Hillingdon Council, Tony Zaman.  

More than 65 nominations were received, with 24 shortlisted as winners across four categories: Bravery; Helping Vulnerable People; Helping Communities; and Promoting Health and Wellbeing. 

Mayor of Hillingdon, Cllr Becky Haggar said: "It was such a privilege to present these awards. I enjoyed meeting the winners and hearing more about what they have achieved. 

"All of this year's nominees are so dedicated and committed to their communities and have served without hesitation. Huge congratulations to everyone nominated, and of course all of the deserving winners." 

Leader of Hillingdon Council, Cllr Ian Edwards, said: "I had the pleasure of reading every nomination and learning more about the fantastic work being carried out by volunteers and community groups.   

"Once again, the awards have been a genuinely humbling experience where I've got to meet our winners and learn more about what they have been contributing to the borough.  

"The awards are a celebration of the valuable work that these residents and groups do across the borough. It is greatly appreciated. Congratulations and thank you to everyone involved." 

Meet some of the winners 

Bravery award  
The 12-year-old winner of a Gold Bravery award, Nawal Rafi, stunned guests with the retelling of her incredible courage and quick thinking when her dad, Rafi had a stroke.  

Nawal, from Uxbridge, recognised the signs immediately as she watched TV with her dad and sister, Simra.  

"I could tell from his appearance and how he was speaking and that the left side of his face went down. I'd seen adverts saying how a stroke is and to call 999." explained Nawal.

"I felt really emotional and sad about it, because I couldn't help. I tried my best to stay calm.

"My Dad didn't know until I told him, and he was so confused, he kept saying he was fine he was fine, but I knew."

She woke her mother Leyla, who was poorly and in bed, and explained what was happening, even though Rafi insisted he was fine and was unaware of any symptoms. With an ambulance not immediately available they took Rafi to hospital in a taxi. 

Layla said: "I am really proud of Nawal for what she did and for winning the award. Nawal spotted it so quickly and knew what it was. If she didn't spot it, he would not be here now." 

Doctor Dilshani Hunukumbure, a friend of the family who nominated Nawal, said: "I think an average 12-year-old wouldn't recognise what a stroke is. Sometimes even medical professionals miss a stroke. She somehow managed to work it out and raise the alarm." 

Civic Medal award 
The winner of the evening's top honour was Jennipher Marshall-Jenkinson. Jennipher was presented with the Civic Medal in recognition of her 50 years contribution to helping communities as a Scout leader. The Civic Medal is the highest award the council can bestow after Freedom of the Borough. 

Jennipher fits her astonishing contribution to local youngsters around working as Chairman of the Microwave Technologies Association and helping other local charities, including Recycle-A-Bike. Her involvement with the Scout movement began as a teenager when she started carrying out local charity support work for her Queen's Guide Award, with what was then the 4th Harlington Scout Group. After decades in uniform, she is now Chairman of the 1st Uxbridge Scout Group and Chairman of the Uxbridge and District Scout Council.

Jennipher said: "Uniformed leaders organise the activities and it used to be fun teaching the young people various life skills, that include first aid, map reading and lots of water sports. As a non-uniformed leader, I now look after more of the administrative side of scouting, from, ensuring the compound is well maintained, to paying the bills, and making sure the security is in place for all our members. As Chairman of the Uxbridge and District Scout Council, which covers all of Hillingdon, my role is the same - just on a larger scale as there are more than 11 different groups in the district to monitor.

"I never stop working. I was always taught in my childhood that you should fill every day with something positive. If you're a people person and community-minded then you go out of your way to help people. And anyone who asks you to do something you just do it." 

Helping Vulnerable People award  
Alia Jones, 39, from Hayes, founder of the Halo Children's Foundation, won the Gold Helping Vulnerable People award. As The Chimes Shopping Centre's chosen charity, Alia also runs the Halo Play CafĂ© at the centre, which offers play therapy sessions and counselling for children.  

Alia said: "I started the charity because my children's dad passed away back in 2011 of a misdiagnosed brain tumour at the age of 27. My daughter was asking questions of where he was and I couldn't find a charity that worked in the area to support my child, so I decided to set up a small support group. It's just grown from there and we have supported more than 200 families to date." 

Helping Communities award  
In 2011, when Malcolm Penny came to the end of his career working for a number of companies in the oil, gas and chemical industries he decided "to keep busy with community work."

In addition to volunteering with the 4th Eastcote Scout Group he helps maintain Eastcote House Gardens along with a band of dedicated volunteers.

Malcolm, 72, an Eastcote resident for more than 40 years said: "We are a group of volunteer gardeners. The council does the heavy work, tree surgery, grass cutting etc but there's a group of us retirees who keep the gardens in good order. It's very rewarding.

"I also started a litter-picking group. We have an Eastcote litter pick in March linked to the Great British Spring Clean. The council does a great job of keeping the place tidy but they can't be everywhere all the time so we do our bit to help in car parks, service roads etc. The Scouts do a lot of this as well, they regularly help in the local parks."

Malcolm was also chairman of the executive committee of 4th Eastcote Scouts for 30 years as well as sitting on the committees of Eastcote Residents' Association and his local Safer Neighbourhoods Ward panel policing group.

He said of his silver Helping Communities Award: "I'm amazed and honoured. But it's important to remember there are many people in Eastcote who do great community work. I am just one of many." 

Promoting Health and Wellbeing award  
Boxing coach Brian Smith, 51, from Yeading, won a silver Promoting Health and Wellbeing award. Brian set up Yeading Boxing Club in June last year after being part of Northolt ABC for more than 30 years. 

Brian said: "My old trainer passed away before lockdown 2020 and it didn't feel right to carry on at Northolt so I decided to start my own club. Boxing teaches kids self-confidence and self-defence. It's also good for keeping the youngsters off the streets." 

To view the full list of winners, visit  

Page last updated: 15 Feb 2024