21st century matchmaker wins AoC Gold Award


For Immediate Release
Single Muslim Ltd - Wakefield, United Kingdom.

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21st century matchmaker wins AoC Gold Award

Online entrepreneur and 21st century matchmaker Adeem Younis has won an Association of Colleges' Gold Award. He was nominated by Wakefield College as an inspiration to other students.

Adeem, 30, graduated from Wakefield College, Yorkshire, with a BA (Hons) in Graphic Design in 1999. He was presented with his award yesterday (8 June) by Lord Willis of Knaresborough, President of the AoC Charitable Trust, at a ceremony at the House of Commons.

The AoC Charitable Trust presents the Gold Awards to a select number of former college students each year in recognition of the vital role further education plays in the careers of the winners and of their continuing achievements.

Adeem has always acknowledged the role that his college has played in his success, particularly the work experience opportunities which gave him the confidence to set up his own businesses.

He said: "It's a great honour to be recognised in this way and I guess I wouldn't be standing here without the help of Wakefield College. I can honestly say that Wakefield College has given me the best start in life. The courses were relevant, up-to-date and practical and I'll always value the support and guidance I had from my tutors every step of the way. They played a huge part in my development, not just as a designer but as a person.

"Collectively, they gave me the knowledge, belief and confidence to go out there and succeed in my chosen field – for that I am hugely grateful. At college I learnt the importance of believing in myself and without the encouragement I received I doubt I'd be where I am today."

Adeem set up his first company, providing web design, development and online marketing solutions, while still at college. Since then his flair for business has seen him set up a number of businesses, a charity and help 20,000 people get married through his website SingleMuslim.com.

While at college Adeem realised that many of his well-educated friends were finding it hard to meet suitable marriage partners and came up with a modern solution to an age-old problem. He launched his online matrimonial service for fellow Muslims in 2000. The site now has more than half a million registered members worldwide and has helped bring about more than 10,000 marriages. It has featured in the media, both at home and abroad, including a BBC1 documentary and as part of a series on ITV1.

His other ventures have included an Indian restaurant, famous for its chocolate curry, and Penny Appeal (PennyAppeal.org), a charity he set up in 2009 on the fourth anniversary of the devastating Kashmir earthquake which left 75,000 dead. The charity aims to relieve poverty and give orphaned or destitute children in North West Pakistan access to education.

His work has garnered a number of awards, including the Shell LiveWire Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2003. He was a finalist in the Business Entrepreneur category in the Wakefield District Business Awards in 2007 and highly commended in the e-Business category in 2009.

The Association of Colleges' Chief Executive, Martin Doel, said: "The AoC Gold Awards highlight the way in which colleges can significantly enhance the lives of their students by providing them with the skills they need for their future success. The superb work done by both students and their colleges across a variety of sectors prove that, no matter what your aspirations, further education can make a major contribution towards achieving a rewarding, fulfilling career.

"I'd like to extend my congratulations to Adeem, who is a shining example of just how far students can go when their talent and ambition is both recognised and nurtured."

To highlight the important role further education plays for students today, the AoC Charitable Trust runs a 'mini me' campaign alongside the Gold Awards. The nominating colleges each select a current student who shows promise in a similar field to their Gold Award winner.

Aspiring graphic designer Ching Lam Cheng, 20, will get the opportunity to meet his muse at the award ceremony at the House of Commons and find out what it takes to carve out a successful career and about the role that his college can play in his future achievements.

Ching is currently studying a BTEC course in Graphic Design. He hopes to pursue a career in design. He spoke very little English when he moved to England from Hong King six years ago and faced a tough first year at school in preparation for GCSEs. After a false start doing A-levels at another college, Ching decided to change direction and study Graphic Design at Wakefield College.

He said: "My tutor has given me a lot of support and help which has made studying a lot more comfortable and rewarding. After completing my first year at Wakefield College I'm quite confident in saying that Graphic Design is a subject area that reflects the many talents that are within my skills range. I feel it's a subject that I can flourish in and can have the opportunity to shine as a top designer in years to come."

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For more information, photography or to arrange interviews with the AoC Charitable Trust, the winner or the 'mini me', please contact Louise Duffy, AoC Charitable Trust and Communications Officer, at louise_duffy [at] aoc.co.uk or 020 7034 9957. Alternatively contact Alice Thiagaraj, AoC Charitable Trust Manager, at alice_thiagaraj [at] aoc.co.uk or 020 7034 9917.

Notes to Editors:

1/. The Association of Colleges' Gold Awards are in their 12th consecutive year and are presented by the AoC Charitable Trust to celebrate the achievements of former further education students and the impact their college had on their careers. Colleges from around the country are given the opportunity to nominate former students who have excelled in their chosen field, having benefited greatly from their time at college. This is to acknowledge the importance of further education, either as a gateway to higher education, or as a platform from which students can begin their careers.

2/. The winners of the 2011 AoC Gold Awards are:

Internationally acclaimed actor John Hurt, nominated by The Grimsby Institute, Lincolnshire

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Cabinet Minister and Conservative Party Chairman, nominated by Kirklees College, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Stewart Milne, Chairman and Chief Executive of the eponymous Scottish-based construction group, nominated by Aberdeen College, Scotland

Paul Burgess, head groundsman at Real Madrid football club's Santiago Bernabéu football stadium, nominated by Myerscough College, Lancashire

Adeem Younis, entrepreneur, businessman and the founder of the online matrimonial service SingleMuslim.com, nominated by Wakefield College, West Yorkshire

The 2011 AoC Gold Award winners:

John Hurt CBE, famous for films such as The Elephant Man and The Naked Civil Servant, was nominated by The Grimsby Institute in recognition of his stellar acting career. He studied Fine Art at Grimsby Art School, now The Grimsby Institute, from 1956-1958. He showed skill as a painter and went on to St Martin's School of Art before being accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His early focus as a painter has been credited for his observational skills and his talent for getting under the skin of the characters he plays. One of the finest actors of his generation, John's career spans some 50 years and he has created a legacy of more than 100 films and countless stage and TV appearances. His vast body of work includes: Shooting Dogs, 44 Inch Chest, Alien and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; theatre roles, including Harold Pinter's The Caretaker, and the crazed Roman Emperor Caligula in the 1970's TV series I, Claudius.
His awards include three BAFTAs, six BAFTA nominations, two Oscar nominations, a Golden Globe and a special Teddy Award at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival for his outstanding performance as Quentin Crisp in An Englishman in New York. John, 71, a staunch champion of independent film-makers, was made a CBE in 2004 and was awarded a Fellowship by the British Film Institute in 2009.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Cabinet Minister and Chairman of the Conservative Party, was nominated by Kirklees College for her success in public life, both as a lawyer and a politician. Baroness Warsi studied A-levels at Dewsbury College, now Kirklees College, from 1987 to 1989. She was politically active from her early college days and was elected as the Vice President of the Students' Union. For many years she served as an executive member of the Kirklees Racial Equalities Council and on the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust's Racial Justice Committee. She went on to read Law at the University of Leeds and then trained with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Office Immigration Department. She stood as a Conservative candidate in Dewsbury in the 2005 General Election; two years later she was appointed to the House of Lords and joined David Cameron's Shadow Cabinet. She worked overseas on a research project on forced marriages for the Ministry of Law in Pakistan and is a trustee of the Savayra Foundation, a women's empowerment charity in Pakistan.

Construction group founder Stewart Milne CBE was nominated by Aberdeen College as an outstanding role model for today's students. Stewart did an electrician's apprenticeship from 1966 to 1971 and, soon after qualifying at the age of 21, he set up a business specialising in kitchen and bathroom conversions. Four years later Stewart Milne Construction Ltd was established with 30 employees and a turnover of £1 million. He's now chairman and chief executive of the Stewart Milne Group, which employs around 1,000 people across the UK and generates a turnover of more than £350 million. The company is at the forefront of timber frame house building; in 2007 it launched the UK's first five star carbon neutral home and has won awards for its innovative and sustainable approach to house-building. The lessons learnt at college some 40 years ago have underpinned Stewart's successful business; he recognises the value and importance of hard work, a belief in one's own ability to generate success and the importance of mastering technical skills. He was awarded the CBE in 2008 for services to the house building industry in Scotland. In recognition of his significant contribution to the development of the economy in the North East of Scotland, Stewart was awarded the first Fellowship of Aberdeen College in 2010. He has also been chair of Aberdeen Football Club since 1998.

Paul Burgess, head groundsman for Spanish football club Real Madrid, was nominated by Myerscough College, for his inspirational achievements in the sportsturf industry. Paul, 32, joined Blackpool Football Club as an apprentice groundsman after leaving school at the age of 16. He immediately started his three-year course at the college in 1994, during which time he successfully applied for the assistant groundsman post at Arsenal. Considered by many in the profession to be the best at what he does, Paul swiftly progressed to become Arsenal's head groundsman in 2000 and introduced new technologies and management systems to ensure the state of the art playing surface was top-notch. He also oversaw all aspects of design and construction and delivered the club's new grounds at the Emirates Stadium, which are among the best in the world. He acted as an advisor to UEFA for the 2004 and 2008 European Championships, the UEFA Cup and the Champions League Finals at various stadiums around the world.  He was headhunted by Real Madrid in 2009 and asked to rescue their pitch at the Santiago Bernabéu football stadium. His dedication and commitment have seen him win five Premier League Groundsman of the Year Awards and the Institute of Groundsman/Turf Professional Awards. He has always ensured that his staff follow practical and vocational qualifications, guaranteeing that the exacting standards imbued in him at college are maintained.



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