Author Qaisra Shahraz wins lifetime achievement prize at National Diversity Awards

Prize-winning author Qaisra Shahraz has won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the UK’s largest diversity event.

The novelist and scriptwriter, whose work focuses on women’s rights, was handed the prize in recognition of her services to literature and education, as well as her interfaith activities, which aim to promote tolerance in the UK and abroad.

The annual National Diversity Awards, which have been sponsored by Microsoft since they began in 2012, aim to support positive role models, community organisations and entrepreneurs from across society, regardless of gender, sexuality, age or religion, and help them effect change in areas where they feel passionate.

Richard Blackwood, Charlene White

Hosts Richard Blackwood and Charlene White

Shahraz, whose 2001 novel The Holy Woman won the Golden Jubilee Award, was given her award at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral by former England footballer Sol Campbell and Microsoft representatives Sarbjit Sahota and Damian Stirrett.

Liam Kelly, General Manager of Developer Experience at Microsoft and one of the judges of the Lifetime Achievement Award, said: “The diversity of each nominee’s journey is in itself incredible; every person on the shortlist has their own unique reason that kick-started their compulsion to help, and they have all shown a remarkable passion and commitment over many years to help people and make a difference to the lives of others…however, the raw emotion and heartfelt words from people who wrote in to say how they themselves, their family or their friends lives have been transformed by their work really brought home the impact one person can have on so many people. It was a privilege to get a glimpse of the profound impact each nominee has had on the lives of others.”

Qaisra Shahraz accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award

Qaisra Shahraz accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award

Other winners at the event, which was hosted by actor and comedian Richard Blackwood and ITV news presenter Charlene White, included:

  • Hollyoaks actress Annie Wallace, who was handed the Celebrity of the Year Award
  • Moira Smyth, who developed the LGBT+ network at Hampshire County Council, won the LGBT title
  • Entrepreneur and radio presenter Keesha Edwards received the positive role model award for race, faith and religion
  • Sajid Rashid, an employee at Rolls-Royce, scooped the age positive role model award
  • Autism campaigner Aston Avery took home the positive role model award for disability after raising more than £20,000 for charity
  • Neomi Bennett, the creator of hospital stockings aid Neo-Slip, was honoured with the entrepreneur of excellence award
  • Channel 4 won the diverse company award
  • Dr Sylvia Forchap-Likambi was handed the positive role model for gender award

Paul Sesay, founder of the National Diversity Awards, said: “The grassroots organisations that the National Diversity Awards recognise are pioneering amazing initiatives on equality, diversity and inclusion; and we need to promote, empower, profile and acknowledge their extraordinary achievements.”

Stirrett echoed that statement, adding: “At Microsoft, diversity and inclusion are close to our hearts, and these issues underpin our culture. We believe at Microsoft that our collective differences, no matter how big or small, are what makes us strong. By supporting each other and collaborating we can each bring our knowledge and unique viewpoint to enable change in our communities.”


The National Diversity Awards