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Top honour for restaurant owner seen as a ‘shining example’ to the community in Northampton

Written by on December 18, 2020

A town centre restaurant owner has been honoured with a major national award for his efforts to ‘give back’ to his local community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the upheaval and uncertainty faced by the hospitality sector as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Naz Islam – owner of Saffron in Castilian Street, Northampton – has consistently gone above and beyond to support all those working on the frontline of the virus, by handing out thousands of free meals to NHS workers, emergency services staff and teachers during both national lockdowns.

His efforts have now been rewarded, having received a special award for ‘Outstanding Service in the Local Community’ at the prestigious 2020 British Curry Awards.

It is the first time a Northampton restaurant has ever won a category at the awards, now in their 16th year.

Amy Hart, Sheena Rose, Naz Islam and Rory Bremner at British Curry Awards 2020

Naz said: “It is truly humbling to win a British Curry Award. These are the Oscars of the curry industry so to be recognised in this way is a huge honour.

“At the very start of the pandemic I pledged to do all I could to help the town I love fight this virus. I wanted to unite the community and bring everyone together to show the world how Northampton’s resilience and tenacity in a time of crisis can truly make a difference.

“The community spirit in Northampton is amazing and the past nine months has shown me that we have so many incredible people in this town. By visiting the hospitals and the schools to deliver meals we have met the everyday heroes who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe.

“This award is as much for them as it is for me and my team at Saffron, I want to dedicate this to the NHS staff, the emergency services workers and the teachers of Northamptonshire.”

The British Curry Awards, held in association with Just Eat, was this year held ‘virtually’ with a global audience able to live stream the event via YouTube. The event was hosted by Rory Bremner, with awards presented by celebrities including model Caprice, broadcaster Rageh Omar, former news reader Alistair Stewart, Jess Wright from The Only Way is Essex, Love Island star Amy Hart and TV chef Brian Turner.

A host of politicians, including Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, former culture secretary Baroness Nicky Morgan, former business secretary Sir Vince Cable, shadow international trade secretary Emily Thornberry and Chris Grayling MP also handed out prizes.

In an introduction for the awards, prime minister Boris Johnson said: “We are all experiencing very challenging times in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly for the UK restaurant industry. It is therefore heartening and fitting that the theme for this year’s event is to reward and celebrate all the unsung heroes in the restaurant industry during the pandemic.

“They have selflessly, tirelessly, and, without prompting, gone out of their way to help their local community, the vulnerable, elderly, isolated, and the NHS by supplying much wanted curries, kindness, and support.”

Organiser of the British Curry Awards, Enam Ali MBE, said: “The curry industry is well-known for its philanthropy and support of the local community. That spirit of goodwill is personified by Naz Islam in Northampton. He is a shining example of what can be achieved when you put the needs of your community above your own.

“It has been a tough year for all of us in hospitality but the actions of people such as Naz and the team at Saffron must be recognised and applauded.”

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