A student who is running a charity while working for her degree has been nominated for a youth award.
Aysha Boshor is the managing director of the Aysha Academy, in Midland Road, Bedford, and also a sociology student in London.
The charity was set up by her father, Biggleswade restauranteur Abdul Boshor, in 2011 to relieve poverty and hardship among ethnic minorities living in Bedfordshire’s county town.
It was named after 23-year-old Aysha, who has taken over the reins, earning her a nomination for Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Young People of the Year or (YOPEY).
She said: “My father had everything but still felt as if something was missing. This is when he wanted to give something back to those in more need. It all started with him building a school for orphans in 2006, in the village in Bangladesh where he was born.
“A lot of customers at the Viceroy came to know about what he was doing. They donated and helped with creating this new school for the less fortunate. This is when my father decided to turn this whole vision he had into a charity. It was a crazy idea as we as a family have no expertise in this area.
“He named the charity after me which I found cringing and embarrassing but my father said this is a legacy he wants to leave behind and he believes I can bring it to life. Today his dream is my future.”
Aysha, of St John’s Street, Biggleswade, added: “I manage the whole charity both in Bangladesh and in the UK. I organize all the projects that will be delivered to the community, arrange meetings, apply for funding and so on. It did get hard as I’m still at university in London, studying sociology, but the motivation kept coming from the feeling of helping people.
“I have learned no matter how much money and material things we have in life, it isn’t enough. However, when we help someone or do a good deed towards making a community a better place, it’s a feeling I cannot even begin to explain.”
Aysha hopes to secure the future of the academy by getting long-term funding, and expand into other towns.
The YOPEYs recognise young people across Bedfordshire who work for the community. The top prize of £800 can be won by a young person or group of young people who help others. The young person, or group, keeps £400 and invests the other £400 in a good cause of their choice. There will be a 2nd place winner of £400, 3rd place and junior winners of £200 each, all similarly shared.
Aysha has been nominated by two people who use the academy.
One nominator, Fatiha Rouf, said: “There is a buzz all over Bedford regarding the Aysha Academy. Aysha caters for everyone, people from all walks of life, ages and beliefs.
“Bedford really needed something like this and more importantly needed someone like Aysha. She is always happy and motivated and full of energy and enthusiasm.”
The other nominator, Shanaz Begum, attended a bazaar at the academy promoting Bedford’s small businesses.
“By charging stall-holders and entrance fees, Aysha raised money for charity. She could easily have used the money for her academy, but instead she donated the money to helping Syria.”
Mrs Begum added: “Aysha is about 10 years younger than me but I looked up to her as a role model.”
The Beds YOPEY is open to young people aged from 10 to 25. Typical entries include fundraisers, young carers, club leaders, volunteers on projects at home or abroad and young leaders who pass on academic or sporting skills. YOPEY is always revealing new positive role models and the qualification for entry is easy - simply, the young person has to give to others.
To nominate logon to yopey.org or write, enclosing a stamped-addressed-envelope, to YOPEY, Woodfarm Cottage, Bury Road, Stradishall, Newmarket CB8 8YN for a paper entry form. Entries close on 27 February.
As well as Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, sponsors include Central Bedfordshire Council, Atlas Converting Equipment of Kempston, Movianto of Bedford, William Jackson Food Group which includes Parripak in Chicksands, and Carlisle Managed Solutions.