Charan Sekhon from Bedford, UK’s first Senior Sikh Officer of the Environment Agency among Queen’s New Year’s Honours Award Recipients, reports Asian Lite News
Charan Kanwal Singh Sekhon, a Senior Environment Officer for the Environment Agency (UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs – DEFRA) is named in the Honours list to receive an MBE. Charan is the Founder Chairman of charity SEVA Trust UK, Equalities and Welfare Coordinator for UNISON East Anglia Branch, a local Councilor and a former executive committee member of Bedford Race Equality Council and Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) in Bedford.
Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, an MBE, is a national honour awarded for an outstanding achievement or service to the community which has had a long-term, significant impact.
Charan becomes UK’s first British Sikh officer of Indian origin serving for the Environment Agency to receive this honour. As per details released by the UK Government Cabinet Office, Charan received this recognition for his services and contributions in four key areas; Charity, Diversity, the Environment and the COVID-19 support work.
Earlier this year, Charan was commended for his environmental work and supporting his work colleagues at the Environment Agency and through Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) Network and UNIOSN by raising equality and diversity awareness, the impacts of Covid19 on BAME communities, supporting H&S and staff welfare and the Environment Agency’s recruitment campaigns to attract diverse workforce.
Outside his day job, Charan is involved in a wide range of voluntary work. He has been supporting and coordinating various projects through SEVA Trust UK which is a registered charity working in the UK and India on Education, Health, Social-Welfare and the Environment. Since March 2020, Charan lead a team of volunteers working in Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes and Hertfordshire where hundreds of vulnerable families, homeless, rough-sleepers and international students were provided with food and other essential items since Corona pandemic stated. Previously Charan played an important role in establishing a new Sikh Temple in Kempston, Bedford where he served as an Assistant Secretary for over 15 years. Charan and his team has supported over 500 disadvantaged children in north India in the last 6 years.
Charan said, “I am very surprised and feel incredibly humbled to hear this news. I am honoured to receive this recognition. It is also a reflection on the collective team effort and enormous support and guidance I received from my colleagues at the Environment Agency, UNISON and our fantastic team of volunteers who work with us that makes SEVA Trust UK, a community charity we launched six years ago.”
“During the COVID19 challenging times, we managed to help a lot of vulnerable work colleagues and diverse communities who faced hardships. It has been a true partnership and collaborative work with all those who want to help and uplift others and I would like to thank everyone for their amazing support. I must thank my entire family. Words cannot express my sincere appreciation for their great support and love and above all the guidance by my parents, who taught me a true meaning of life,” said Charan.
Charan is currently serving as a local councillor in Sharnbrook (Bedfordshire) and previously he served as Kempston Town Councillor giving 20 years’ service as an elected local councillor. He is a very active volunteer and charity worker for over 25 years who lead a wide range of community support projects through-out the COVID19 pandemic and the national lockdowns. Charan’s charitable work and contributions have been widely recognised by many local and national organisations including Bedford Borough Council, Papwoth Trust, Cambridge, The Sikh Missionary Society, UK, Patanjali Yog Peeth Trust, UK and Bedfordshire Asian Business Association (BABA). In Dec. 2020, he received Sports Award from Bedford Borough Council for supporting diverse communities with free online yoga classes. In 2013 Charan was honoured with’ British Asian Pride of Britain Award in an event held at the House of Commons in the UK Parliament and in 2002 he received Bedford Mayor’s ‘Citizen of the Year’ Award for his charitable work and community services.
Born and Bred in a small village of Barundi of Punjab in India, Charan faced many challenges during his educational carrier in India and in the UK. He completed his BSc. and MSc. in Physics from India and moved to Britain in Jan. 1995. He then completed his MSc in Energy and Environment from Cranfield University, Bedfordshire before joining the Environment Agency in Jan 2000. In a recent interview with Cranfield University alumni podcast channel’s program of ‘Leadership on-the-go’ Charan explained why he passionately believes in equality and social justice, education opportunities for all and environmental sustainability. He said he wanted to use his experiences of struggle and hardships to help others in line with the concept of Seva (selfless service) gifted by the founder of Sikh faith Guru Nanak. He believes there is no better reward than serving the country by supporting people who face hardships and wants everyone to work in unity to serve others. He further added that he got an superb support from the local community here is the UK and India and he wanted to give something back which prompted him to set up SEVA Trust UK to work in UK and India.
Link to Charan’s interview:
James Chrisp, Communications Officer for Environment Agency’s East Anglia UNION branch said “Our branch has been supporting SEVA Trust for their educational and environmental projects and it was really good to see they reacted fast to set up local support projects in response to COVID19 situation. Charan has worked very hard and thoroughly deserved this recognition. Last year Charan was honored by the Environment Agency with a ‘Loyalty Commendation Award’ for his 20 years contributions in protecting and improving the environment. He was the first senior Sikh officer of Indian origin to achieve this milestone in East Anglia. He was selected for ‘Lockdown Hero’ award by Area Director Simon Hawkins and the management team for his exceptional COVID19 support work. In 2019, Charan was awarded ‘Diversity Champion Runner-up Award’ by the Chair of Environment Agency, Emma Howard Boyd.Outside his day job,Charan’s excellent support work has been acknowledged by many organisations. On behalf of our Environment Agency UNISON Branch, I would like to congratulate Charan for this well-deserved honour, said James.
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