Unsung heroes from the community and business sectors have been honoured at a special awards ceremony in Birmingham which aims to recognise people who “go that extra mile” and inspire others to do the same.

The Multicultural Business & Community Champion (MBCC) awards took place at the Eastside Rooms in Woodcock Street on Saturday, paying tribute to unsung heroes from the region and beyond in a star-studded ceremony.

With organisers praising a record number of guests, 20 honourees were celebrated amid live performances from music stars including singer-songwriter Lemar and MOBO award winning gospel singer Lurine Cato MBE.

Bringing together over 700 guests together – the largest number in the event’s five-year history – the awards paid tribute to individuals who have gone over and above within their work in the corporate and community sectors over the past year.

Performers at the MBCC awards held in Birmingham on SaturdayLensi Photography
Performers at the MBCC awards held in Birmingham on Saturday

Award winners

Amongst the winners were Kanya King CBE, the CEO and founder of the Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards, who was recognised with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Honorary’ award; and couple Ashley Cain and Safiyya Vorajee, who were presented with the ‘Inspirational Honorary’ award for founding the Azaylia Foundation charity in memory of their daughter.

Campaigner Stuart Lawrence was also recognised, receiving a ‘Special Recognition’ award, for his dedication to anti-racism work following the murder of his brother, Stephen Lawrence.

Stuart Lawrence was honoured for his anti-racism work following the high-profile murder of his brother Stephen LawrenceLensi Photography
Stuart Lawrence was honoured for his anti-racism work following the high-profile murder of his brother Stephen Lawrence
Kanya King CBE, the CEO and Founder of the Music of Black Origin (MOBO) AwardsLensi Photography
Kanya King CBE, the CEO and founder of the Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards

Having postponed the awards in 2020 due to lockdown, this year’s MBCC Awards featured three brand-new categories to commemorate the exceptional times.

Claire Goodwin-Fee was chosen as ‘Lockdown Hero of the Year’, after she founded Frontline19 – a free and confidential support and counselling service for NHS and frontline workers struggling throughout the pandemic.

DJ Silk was highly commended in the same category, for providing weekly live-streamed DJ sets via Instagram during lockdown periods, uniting people at a time of isolation.

Claire Goodwin-Fee was awarded ‘Lockdown Hero of the Year’ for setting up Frontline19Lensi Photography
Claire Goodwin-Fee was awarded ‘Lockdown Hero of the Year’ for setting up Frontline19

Other winners during the big night included Maureen Lewis for her years of voluntary work in Walsall, and Liz Pemberton for her anti-racist early years work.

Spoken work performer and author Casey Bailey – who was last year granted the position of Birmingham’s Poet Laureate – received the MBCC 2021 ‘Role Model of the Year’ award.

Actor and writer Kelechi Okafor was awarded Social Activist of the Year while CJ Lloyd Webley went home with the Community Unsung Hero of the Year award.

Liz Pemberton was awarded for her anti-racist early years work Lensi Photography
Liz Pemberton was awarded for her anti-racist early years work
Lensi Photography

Tru Powell organised this year’s MBCC Awards. Speaking about all of the nominees, he said:

“The stories of our winners are incredibly humbling and their tireless work to improving the world we all live in is nothing short of awe-inspiring. It is truly an honour to be able to pay tribute to their commitment and achievements through the MBCC Awards, and give these heroes the recognition they so truly deserve.

“Every single one is an inspiration to us all and I know I speak on behalf of all of the MBCC Awards judging panel, ambassadors, and guests when I say a huge ‘well done’ to them all.”

Spoken work performer and author Casey Bailey received the 'Role Model of the Year' award Lensi Photography
Spoken work performer and author Casey Bailey received the ‘Role Model of the Year’ award

Celebrity guests

Music star Jamelia attends the 2021 MBCC award in BirminghamLensi Photography
Music star Jamelia attends the 2021 MBCC awards in Birmingham

The event was hosted by famous faces Alex Beresford and Leah Charles-King and also saw musicians Lemar and Lurine Cato joined on stage by the Aston Performing Arts Academy, as guests were treated to jaw-dropping acts throughout the night, including an appearance from Jamelia.

Tweeting about the event, TV presenter Alex Beresford shared his excitement at being invited to the ceremony.

“Had the best time hosting the MBCC awards in front of an incredibly 700 strong crowd of Birmingham’s finest ladies and gentlemen across business and community.

“Huge congratulations to all the finalists and winners. Thank you for all the love. It was a pleasure to host.”

“Back hosting the MBCC awards on Saturday with Alex Beresford was a blast! Thanks Scarlette Douglas for being my date,” added television and radio personality Leah Charles-King.

Brit and MOBO awards winning music star Lemar performed at the MBCC awards in Birmingham Lensi Photography
Brit and MOBO awards winning music star Lemar performed at the MBCC awards in Birmingham

In the spirit of the event, the MBCC Awards also collaborated with two charity partners, the Equality Council UK and First Class Foundation.

Chosen for their commitment to the community and their shared mission of helping people to succeed together, both organisations are passionate about increasing opportunities for marginalised groups, in particular people of colour.

With this year’s event theme of ‘anti-racism’, the awards event raised vital funds and awareness for the two causes, shining a light on how much more needs to be done. 

Nathan Dennis from the First Class Foundation speaks at the MBCC awards in Birmingham Lensi Photography
Nathan Dennis from the First Class Foundation speaks at the MBCC awards in Birmingham

Concluding the event, Tru Powell told guests: “It was a dream come true to bring back the MBCC Awards for 2021 and I cannot thank everyone who was part of it – from our hosts, judges, and ambassadors; through to our winners and guests – enough for making it the success it was.

“To have over 700 people in one place, celebrating these sensational people together, was incredible and I already cannot wait for the next one!”


MBCC 2021 award winners


Leah Charles King, Tru Powell, Zoe Bennett, Kenya King, Alex BeresfordLensi Photography
Lifetime Achievement Honorary award winner Kanya King (second right) with (L-R) Leah Charles-King, Tru Powell, Zoe Bennett and Alex Beresford

The full list of MBCC awards categories and winners:

Charity of the Year – Digbeth Dining Club
Community Unsung Hero of the Year – CJ Lloyd Webley
Community Unsung She-ro of the Year – Liz Pemberton
Entrepreneur of the Year – Oyinkansola Adebayo, Niya Enterprise
Frontline Worker of the Year – Neelam Dhansey
Lifetime Achievement Award – Maureen Lewis
Lockdown Hero of the Year – Claire Goodwin-Fee (Highly Commended: DJ Silk)
Mentor of the Year – Beth Mabey
Most Influential Business Person of the Year – Rosie Ginday, Miss Macaroon
Most Inspirational Person of the Year – Kieran Quinlan
Networker of the Year – Michelle Raymond
Outstanding Business of the Year – Free Train
Role Model of the Year – Casey Bailey (Highly Commended: Alexandra Wilson)
Social Activist of the Year – Kelechi Okafor
Inspirational Honorary Award – Ashley Cain and Safiyya Vorajee
Lifetime Achievement Honorary – Kanya King CBE
Special Recognition Award – Stuart Lawrence


Celebrating Black excellence, inspiration, history and heritage in Birmingham and the West Midlands, from 'I Am Birmingham' news and features.

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