“Normal people like me don’t get an MBE”

Graduates speak of disbelief at being recognised in Her Majesty The Queen’s New Year Honours list

Narinder Dhandwar MBE

Graduate and Barclays employee Narinder Dhandwar has been recognised with an MBE

“These are all incredibly modest people doing inspirational things in extraordinary times. As a University we are proud to be associated with them and wish to add our congratulations on the awarding of these honours which are so richly deserved.”

Professor Martin Jones, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive

The published list, which recognises the achievements and service of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom, features two exceptional Staffordshire University graduates.

Recipients include Narinder Dhandwar, 54, from Walsall who graduated with a BA (Hons) Modern Studies (Economics and International Relations) degree in 1991.

After graduating Narinder worked for Ofwat, West Bromwich Building Society and Wesleyan before joining Barclays where he works as a Business Relationship Manager.

Father of two Narinder said: “It’s a funny story as I received a letter to my home in September 2020 but thought it was a scam and threw the letter in the bin. The same thing happened again this summer. I just thought normal people like me don’t get an MBE.”

Narinder was eventually tracked down through his employers and says he is thrilled to be recognised for services to business and finance sector in the West Midlands and he hopes his experience will help to inspire others.

He said: “It was a complete surprise and I am still in disbelief. However I am absolutely delighted and very humbled to receive this award. My parents and both sets of my grandparents instilled in me the values and ethics that have led to this honour. My son and daughter, Kieran and Jasmine, have been amazing, as has my wider family. This award is for all of them for their support they’ve given.”

“I had a really good time doing my degree and my qualification has helped me all the way through my career. I have kept in touch with the University and I also enjoy being a mentor to interns and helping undergraduates.”

Jon Corbett, Head of Barclays Business Banking, Central Region said: “It’s typical of the support Narinder had provided to his clients during the pandemic but also to the work he has undertaken externally to support his wider community. A really proud moment for Narinder and his family, and a proud moment for all of us to know that one of our colleagues has been recognised in this way.”

Zulkifl Ahmed graduated from Staffordshire University with a LLB (Hons) Law degree in 2010 and has also received an MBE, for services to Education and to Young People.

The 32-year-old from Walsall, now works as a Special Educational Needs and Disability Group Manager for Worcestershire County Council.

Among his many achievements, Zulkifl expertly led Sandwell’s Statutory Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Services through the period of a Written Statement of Action (WSoA) to an exceptional 100 per cent resolution of serious weaknesses in just two years.

He now works for Worcestershire County Council and is playing a significant part in their improvement programme as they make good progress in addressing their WSoA targets.

Following his appointment, there was a 61.7 per cent reduction in complaints from parents and a 41 per cent improvement in producing EHC Plans in 20 weeks. In March 2020, data showed the delivery of 100 per cent of plans within the 20-week deadline.

Zulkifl said: “I am honoured and humbled to have received this award. Children and Young people are our future and I firmly believe that the best gift that we can give our future generations is a great education.

“I experienced this myself at Staffordshire University law school, where all the valuable skills and life lessons I learnt provided me with the solid foundation to build my career and life. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the University and would like to thank all of the wonderful lectures in particular Dewi Williams and Angus McDonald.”

Narinder and Zukifl are in proud company as Staffordshire University honorary graduates Laura Kenny CBE and Mark Radford were also recognised with New Year honours in addition to Dr Tony Ward MBE who is a Visiting Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine in the School of Health, Science and Wellbeing.

Olympic cycling hero Laura was recognised with a damehood for her services to cycling after becoming the first British woman to win a gold medal at three consecutive Olympics games.

And recent honorary graduate Professor Mark Radford, who helped lead the recruitment of vaccine staff and volunteers in his capacity as England’s Deputy Chief Nursing Officer, was honoured with a CBE.

Professor Radford said: “This is a great honour and I am proud to receive this award which recognises the dedication and hard work of the tens of thousands of nurses and volunteers who have made it possible for the NHS to deliver over 110 million COVID vaccinations since December 2019.”

Now retired from clinical practice, Visiting Professor Dr Tony Ward founded the North Staffordshire Rehabilitation Centre at Haywood Hospital and was instrumental in the creation of the trauma rehabilitation pathway as part of the National Trauma inititiative for which Stoke-on-Trent is internationally recognised.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Martin Jones said: “These are all incredibly modest people doing inspirational things in extraordinary times. As a University we are proud to be associated with them and wish to add our congratulations on the awarding of these honours which are so richly deserved.”




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