A selfless volunteer from Huddersfield has been commended for his efforts after topping a nationwide poll to be named ‘Volunteer of the Year’.
32-year-old Kamal Aftab, from Almondbury, picked up 45 percent of the total votes in the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network's ‘Volunteer of the Year Award’.
His role, as a regional youth leader with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA), has seen him balance his professional and personal life with hours upon hours of voluntary work.
Since aged just seven, Kamal says he has been volunteering and helping others and it has always been a passion of his which has continued to thrive throughout his life.
His work over the past 12 months has included sending a team of support workers to Somerset from Yorkshire during the devastating floods, as well as working on numerous fundraising activities from cycle challenges to tree planting.
It was Kamal’s friend, and fellow AMYA volunteer, Nadeem Ahmed, who nominated him for the award and the local optometrist says he was ‘incredibly humbled’ and ‘proud’ to be picked as number one in the country.
“There were four other nominees in the category and every single one of them deserved to win this award because of their amazing work,” he said.
“It was a nice surprise when I heard I’d actually won and I was absolutely delighted and honoured to just be nominated.
“To be recognised for all of this work we do is obviously very nice but predominantly we are doing it because we believe in God, we believe God created mankind and therefore it is our duty to serve mankind.
“It also helps remove these stereotypes that people have on our faith. Islam is often portrayed in such a bad way at times and people forget that there are so many good people – it is just that small minority who are getting publicised.
“By doing voluntary actions, benefitting all communities, regardless of faith or skin colour, we help remove these negative stereotypes.”
Kamal says his role as a voluntary regional youth leader often takes up more of his time than his profession does with events occurring every other day.
The award recognised his efforts in helping to better communities across Yorkshire, and even Britain, yet he insists the completion of voluntary work is just as satisfying as individual commendations.
“I am very proud to be named the volunteer of the year but there is much more work to do,” he said.
“For us the work continues irrespective of these awards and we are constantly just trying to play that small part in helping out as many people as possible.”