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Star Academies CEO knighted in Queen’s Birthday Honours

16th Jul 2021
Star Academies CEO knighted in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Top Row: Sir Mufti Hamid Patel, Fadi Itani OBE and Syed Naeem Pasha Shah OBE, (bottom row) Reha Begum Ullah BEM, Chief Superintendent Wasim Chaudhry and Javed Khan OBE

Elham Asaad Buaras

Star Academies Chief Executive, Mufti Hamid Patel CBE, has been knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in recognition of his outstanding services to education.

Patel, whose trust runs among others the award-winning Tauheedul boys’ and girls’ schools in Blackburn, is one of 51 Muslims to be recognized in this year’s honours.

This year, members of the Muslim community have been awarded a knighthood, a CBE, six OBES, eighteen MBEs, seventeen BEMs, two international MBEs, a police medal, two foreign honorary knighthoods, an honorary CMG and two honourary CBEs.

Patel has led Star Academies since its inception in 2010, with a commitment to improving the life chances of students from disadvantaged communities.

Star Academies has, for several years, consistently been one of the highest-performing multi-academy trusts in England, with some of the country’s top-performing schools. In the Government’s latest performance tables (2019), Star schools secured first, second and third places in the national rankings, with five schools in total in the top 15 led by 2014 winner of The Muslim News Sankore University award for Excellence in Education, Tauheedul girls.

Speaking to The Muslim News, Mufti Hamid Patel dedicated his knighthood to the “skills and effort” of everyone at Star Academies. “Most significantly, the award celebrates the outstanding achievements of the young people whom we serve.”

“As a Muslim, I know that the highest accolade is not in receiving an award – even one as prestigious as this – rather, it is to earn the respect and love of the people around you and to please the Lord. I am a flawed human being and a work in progress. And the knighthood does not change that – other than to spur me to work harder for others, to improve myself and to be better in everything I do,” he said.

Star worked to provide extra support for its pupils, their families and the local community during the pandemic. At the height of the first lockdown, a free national parent helpline was launched, reaching 1.5 million parents.

Star also established Star Family Hubs in 13 towns and cities to support its pupils and their families and its schools’ wider communities during the pandemic.

Star used school kitchens to cook 100,000 hot meals for vulnerable and homeless people, as well as providing 7,500 families with weekly food parcels. It also sourced and distributed 10,000 hygiene packs and 13,500 items of PPE for key workers. The Trust manufactured PPE during a national shortage. Students also designed and manufactured PPE using school workshops.

Star Academies offered gifts of time and friendship to elderly residents in care homes located near their schools.

Explaining the importance of going beyond the function of a school during recent lockdowns, Patel said, “Leadership is our specialism. This extends beyond the school gates and into the community. Our philanthropic work had begun well before the pandemic struck; Covid exacerbated the social needs that we already recognised as being potential barriers to achievement for our children and their families.

By extending our foodbanks and operating community kitchens, we were able to support thousands of vulnerable people. We also provided our pupils with opportunities to make a genuine difference through their involvement in social action projects. They developed skills and awareness that will help them in their future lives.”

Following the pandemic, Patel said, “As part of our ed-tech strategy, we quickly upskilled our teachers to provide ‘live’ online lessons from the outset of the first lockdown.

Across the Trust, 5,000 devices were loaned to disadvantaged students to ensure they didn’t miss out on learning.”

“We know that these lessons, despite their high quality, were not as impactful for most pupils as face-to-face education, and so our efforts since reopening have been directed to identifying where pupils have fallen behind and filling the gaps as quickly as possible.

We are fully engaged with the National Tutoring Programme, as well as providing our interventions for children most in need of support.

We are confident that the young people who leave our schools this summer will do so having achieved grades that will testify to their hard work and commitment.

Every instance of self-isolation fractures the continuity of learning. Star schools are located in areas that have been most affected by high infection rates, and so our recovery strategy has to be correspondingly impactful.”

Physics Professor Jameel Sadik Al- Khalil, recipient of the second-highest award, is to be made a CBE for his services to science and public engagement in STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Al-Khalili OBE, a theoretical physicist at the University of Surrey, holds a distinguished chair in physics as well as a university chair in public engagement in STEM.

Al-Khalili received his PhD in theoretical nuclear physics from Surrey in 1989 and then spent two years as a SERC Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University College London before returning to Surrey in 1991.

He was appointed lecturer in 1992, and in 1994 he was awarded an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship for five years during which time he established himself as a world-leading authority on nuclear reaction theory of light exotic nuclei, publishing widely. Following this, he reverted to a full-time lectureship in the Department of Physics at Surrey. 

He was promoted to senior lecturer in 2001 and professor of physics in 2005. He has published over a hundred papers in nuclear physics, quantum mechanics and quantum biology and has supervised 19 PhD students. 

Despite his profile as a public scientist, he is also still research-active, with five current PhD students. Al-Khalili is a past president of the British Science Association and a recipient of the Royal Society’s Michael Faraday Medal and the Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Medal, the Institute of Physics Kelvin Meda, and the inaugural Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication. 

He was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in 2000 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2018.

He told The Muslim News, “I am delighted to have been honoured in this way by Her Majesty the Queen – and gratified to know that I have been successful in exciting and interesting others where I have been so inspired. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the fantastic people I have worked with within my career at the University of Surrey and beyond.” 

CEO of Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) Fadi Itani has been awarded an OBE for his services to charity and interfaith relations during Covid-19. 
Fadi has over 30 years of experience in the community and charity sector.

Before MCF, Fadi was the Deputy Director-General of Qatar Charity UK and the Global Director for Communications at Islamic Relief. He also served as the CEO of Zakat House and Public Affairs Director at the Humanitarian Forum.

He was awarded The Muslim News Alija Izetbegović Award for Good Citizenship, the Mayor of Islington’s Civic Award for servicing the community as well as the Mayor of London Award for ‘his services to the people of London’. 

“This recognition gives me a chance to thank many of my colleagues, teams and volunteers and, most importantly, the sacrifices of my family and especially my wife. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did, and I pray I can continue to serve,” he told The Muslim News.

Javed Khan, CEO of the UK’s leading children’s charity Barnardo’s has been made an OBE for services to young people and education. Javed told The Muslim News, “Growing up in inner-city Birmingham in the 1960s and 70s, with Kashmiri immigrant parents who couldn’t read or write in any language, I never dreamt this would be possible for someone like me. 

“At Barnardo’s we passionately believe that incredible things can happen when you believe in children, whatever their background. My family didn’t have much when I was growing up, but they gave me the love, care and hope that set me on the path to where I am today.”

Khan has been Chief Executive of Barnardo’s since 2014 and is a leading figure in the UK public and voluntary sectors, regularly advising ministers, with high-profile contributions in the media and at conferences.

He leads Barnardo’s 20,000 people, being the fifth largest charity in the UK. With over 800 delivery programmes, a large retail footprint, and services in all four nations of the UK, the charity supports over 358,000 vulnerable children, young people, their families and carers each year. As a British Muslim with Pakistani/Kashmiri heritage, Javed is the first non-white CEO in Barnardo’s 155-year history.

Syed Naeem Pasha Shah, Head of Engagement, People, Places and Communities Division at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), is also to be made an OBE. His award is for services to faith communities. Pasha started his career in housing and quickly moved into developing regeneration programmes with local authorities. He then entered the field of international development and worked in countries blighted by poverty and conflict.

Pasha joined the civil service in 2015 as a senior policy advisor on Muslim communities and is today Head of Community Engagement at MHCLG, leading part of the Community Champions programme in tackling the pandemic.

He told The Muslim News, “I thought the committee was contacting me as a reference for someone else. It took some time for me to come round to the fact that I had been nominated. I had to sit down, grab a coffee and read it all again. My heartfelt gratitude goes to those who nominated me.

This award is a reflection of all your hard work and dedication, which made my work so much easier.

I spent a large chunk of my life before I joined the Civil Service engaging with people who had experienced famine, conflict and destitution here and abroad, and I guess they too, each, feature in any recognition I may receive.

The faith sector in the UK is made up of inspirational people, and it is beyond my wildest dreams that I receive an honour for work in serving them, and particularly in a department which has such a strong commitment to communities.”

Chief Superintendent Wasim Chaudhry, Branch Commander of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Specialist Operations Branch, has been awarded a Queen’s Police Medal.

As a member of the Senior Leadership Team at Manchester since 2004, Chaudhry played a pivotal role in improving community relations in Moss Side following a period of gun and gang violence. He was also actively involved in the growth of Independent Advisory Groups, which engages with the public.

Chaudhry previously undertook work as the Force’s Operational Lead for tackling hate crime, a role in which he supported Manchester’s diverse communities, ensuring they have a voice and a place to raise concerns.

Over the last two years, he has overseen the command of major events and challenging policing operations, working closely with police and partner agencies.

Throughout his 24-year career, Chaudhry has been at the forefront of supporting residents through some of the toughest times, including the riots of 2011 and being part of a team that led the community recovery work following the Manchester Arena terror attack in 2017, providing reassurance and harmony.

Reha Begum Ullah, a Trustee of the Muslimah Sports Association (MSA), is to be made a BEM for services to sport. Ullah has a background in law and is the legal secretary at MSA. She has a multi-faceted skills bank and has the responsibilities of safeguarding and welfare at MSA. She is currently a teacher at Lady Aisha Academy, where she is the head of IT, she is also a community manager at Street Tag.

She joined MSA as a trustee in 2016. She became a coach for football, fencing, an activator for tennis and badminton and now an instructor for archery. Furthermore, she led the football team into league and charity tournaments.

She kept MSA moving through lockdown by project managing, “MSA sport for good” initiative.  Speaking to The Muslim News, Ullah said she is “humbled and surprised to receive an award for something I love doing. I enjoy helping others and making a difference in the community. I know lots of people have done amazing things during the lockdown, but to be singled out for recognition is astonishing.”

* Among the 1,129 people awarded in the Queen’s Honours are 15 members of the Jewish community (a Damehood, a CBE, three OBEs, seven MBEs and three BEMS) and 40 members of the Hindu and Sikh communities (six OBEs, seventeen MBEs, eight BEMs, three international MBEs, an international BEM, a police medal, a foreign honourary CMG, an honourary OBE and two honourary MBEs).



Knight Bachelor:

Hamid PATEL CBE, CEO Star Academies, for services to education.


Jameel Sadik Al- Khalili, OBE FRS Professor of Physics & Professor of Public Engagement in Science, University of Surrey, for services to science & public engagement in STEM.


Adnan KHAN, Team Leader, MoD, for services to defence. Fadi ITANI, CEO, Muslim Charities Forum, for services to Charity & Interfaith Relations during Covid-19.

Javed Akhter KHAN, CEO, Barnado’s, for services to young people & to education.

Rimla AKHTAR MBE, Co-founder, Muslim Women in Sport Network, for services to equality & diversity in Sport.

Sharmin JOARDER, Director, Business Readiness, Cabinet Office, for public service.

Syed Naeem Pasha SHAH, Head of Engagement, People, Places & Communities Division, Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Govt, for services to faith communities


Abdul Raffey FARUQI, Lately Senior Research Scientist, MRC Lab of Molecular Biology, for services to medical research.

Afaf Abdrabou ALY, Chair, Egyptian Society of Northern Ireland, for services to UK-Egypt relations & anti-racism in Northern Ireland.

Aida HAUGHTON, Housing Support Administrator, YMCA North Staffordshire, for services to Remembering Srebrenica.

Arif Mohiuddin AHMED, Reader, Cambridge University, for services to education.

Asad Mahmood FAZIL, CEO, Al-Hurraya, Nottingham, for services to Education.

Dilwar HUSSAIN, for services to interfaith & social cohesion.

Dr Abdul HAFEEZ, Founder & CEO, Association of Pakistani Physicians & Surgeons of the UK, for services to the NHS particularly during Covid-19.

Fahima KHANOM, Halifax Check Challenge Appeal, Hub Manager, Valuation Office Agency, for services to customers during covid-19.

Karin QURESHI, Mental Health Lead, Birmingham City University, for services to mental health & higher education Birmingham.

Meera NARAN, Campaigner, Road Safety on Smart Motorways, for services to road safety.

Muna Mohamed Rashid YASSIN, Managing Director, Fair Finance, for charitable financial services to disadvantaged people during Covid-19.

Nahim AHMED, for services to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Nahim KHAN, Team Member, Leadership & Shared Capability, Digital Group, for services to BAME Staff in the Dept for Work & Pensions.

Professor Azra Catherine Hilary GHANI, Professor, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London, for services to infectious disease control & epidemiological research.

Rowhi Mahmood NEMER, Owner, CamCab, for services to frontline NHS workers & the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sofia MAHMOOD, Director, Empowering Minds, Bradford, for services to education.

Zahir PATEL, Case Progression Officer, Operational Delivery, CPS, for services to law & order.

Zillur HUSSAIN, Owner, Tavan Restaurant, for services to the community in Peterborough during the Covid-19 pandemic.

BEM: Atif ALI, for services to the community in Birmingham during Covid-19.

Saiqa ALI, Founder & Chair, Southern Women’s Aid Network, for services to the community in South London particularly during Covid-19.

Syed Masum ALI, Lately Case Handler, Co-Operative Bank, for services to financial services & the community in Greater Manchester during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Yousif Mohammed ELTOM, Leader, Muslim Scout Fellowship Unit Manager, The Scout Association, for services to scouting & young people.

Wazid HASSAN, for services to the community in Redbridge during Covid-19.

Abrar HUSSAIN, for services to the community in Halifax, during Covid-19.

Mohammed IMRAN, for services to the community in Bradford.

Humayun ISLAM, for services to the community in Bradford. Bashir KARA, for services to tennis.

Raj Wali KHAN, for services to the community in Aylesbury.

Mahtab MOROVAT, for services to charity in Sunderland, Tyne & Wear.

Qamar NAWAZ, Frontline Food Retail Worker, the Cooperative Group, for services to the food supply chain.

Idris PATEL, CEO, Supporting Humanity, for services to the community in Ilford during Covid-19.

Mohammad Jamil RADHA, Healthcare Assistant, Epsom & St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, for services to the NHS during Covid-19.

Mohammed SAEED, Vice Chair, Community First, Peterborough, for services to the community in Peterborough.

Tarek Fared Moustafa THOMA, Owner, The Oven Restaurant, for services to the community in Middlesbrough & Key Workers during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Reha Begum ULLAH, Trustee, Muslimah Sports Association, for services to sport.

Queen’s Police Medal:

Mohammad Wasim CHAUDHRY, Chief Superintendent, Greater Manchester Police.

Overseas MBE: Mohammed M AHMED, Aviation Security Liaison Officer, British Embassy, Riyadh. Imtiaz RAZVI, Director Examinations Pakistan, British Council.

Foreign Nationals:

Honourary Knight Commander:

Dr Farid Ahmad HOMAYOUN, Country Director, the HALO Trust, for services to international development.

Reem AL ATROUNI, Head of Corporate Services, British Embassy Beirut, Lebanon, for services to the British Embassy in Beirut.

Honourary Companion:

Abdessattar Mohamed BADRI, British Consul, Sousse, Tunisia, for services to the FCO.

Honourary CBE:

Salar AMIN Political Officer, British Consulate General, Erbil, Iraq, for services to the British Consulate General, Erbil.

Suha BATARSEH, Head of Trade & Investment Jordan, British Embassy, Amman, Jordan, for services to UK/Jordanian Trade & Investment.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

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