I am absolutely honoured to have been awarded an MBE for ‘services to West Yorkshire Police and charity’.
Firstly, I would like to congratulate all of those who have received honours in recognition of their outstanding work last weekend.
Having found out about my MBE nearly 4 weeks ago I have had a lot of time to think about what it means to me and others. I recognise I now join a small group of people nationally to have received a Queens honour but an even smaller group of people who have received an MBE within policing which becomes even smaller if you are a Muslim.
Normally this isn’t something I would be blogging about, in fact this is my first blog I have ever written. Last night whilst enjoying the opening of my fast with a few close friends, I was reminded how important it was to share this happiness of mine. Not because it is rare for a police officer to get an MBE or indeed a Queens honour, but I am the lad from Girlington, inner city Bradford, who went to Whetley Primary and was told by a teacher in secondary school I wouldn’t amount to much.
The same lad who joined West Yorkshire Police in 1996 with a sense of trepidation and is now the most senior ranking Muslim officer in Yorkshire and Humber and I have just been awarded a Queens honour.
To receive this honour is a privilege in itself for me as a British Muslim who is enjoying this moment, but knowing that this came from the community, a community that often finds itself at the centre of negative rhetoric and the charities I have the privilege of working with is the real ‘cherry on top’. The visibility of a fellow Muslim being recognised and celebrated by the Queen of our country not only recognises my achievements but theirs also, which allows me to smile that little bit extra today.
So I have something to shout about as this is my story and this isn’t just my success. It belongs to my parents, Pakistani migrants who instilled the idea of education and hard work as a route to a better life, their hard work is what has not set me on the road to Buckingham palace to collect this award. It is indicative of the struggles, the challenges I have faced as someone of colour, of a Muslim name that gets stopped routinely when I fly abroad with my family on holiday.
It’s not been a smooth road to travel, when your aspirations are curtailed by teachers whose expectations are limited to ‘you won’t amount to much’ but we all have our strengths, our inspirations and what I call our anchors. Mine have certainly been my faith followed by my family and those individuals who provided the guidance and advice throughout my career when things have become difficult and I have faced my own challenges.
This honour is not just for those who raised me but also for those that I now work so hard for, to make the future easier for them than it was for me, my wife and children who are my inspiration to do what I do every day, playing my part for a better tomorrow, for a better society.
So this one’s not just for the past but for a brighter future, one that encompasses and celebrates our diversity as a strength, where the Mabs Hussain’s are the norm and not the exception. Leadership is about creating more leaders and by sharing my story I sincerely hope I have reached beyond just those of colour, because if there is one thing I know it is this. Equality is not about achieving the same outcomes it’s about having the same opportunities, that responsibility belongs to us all and not just me.
I will cherish this feeling and sense of pride for a long time to come and look forward to sharing the moment with my parents and wife when I collect the honour. I am eternally grateful for the support I have had from my family, friends, colleagues and the community to get me to this stage in my life and career. I promise I will do my upmost and best to continue to live up to your expectations.