100-year-old Dabirul Choudhury to be honoured with City of London award

  • London Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2020-10-21 13:08:37 BdST

A 100-year-old man of Bangladeshi origin is set to be awarded the Freedom of the City of London after raising thousands of pounds for COVID-19 relief while fasting during Ramadan.

Drawing inspiration from Captain Sir Tom Moore's fundraising efforts, Dabirul Islam Choudhury raised more than £420,000 by walking 970 laps of his communal garden in Bow in east London, while fasting during Ramadan this year.

The Freedom of the City of London award will be presented to Choudhury during a ‘virtual’ ceremony at his home on Wednesday.

The ceremony will be attended by his nominators, City Corporation Elected Members, Munsur Ali and Prem Goyal, and Baroness Udin, and the High Commissioner for Bangladesh, the City of London Corporation said.

Earlier this month, Dabirul was made an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, in recognition of his achievement.

From the money raised for a charity called the Ramadan Family Commitment, run by UK-based free-to-air Channel S TV (which is aimed at the British Bangladeshi community), £116,000 was donated to the UK's National Health Service (NHS) while the rest was distributed among 26 other charities in the UK, Bangladesh, and over 50 other countries around the world.

“Dabirul’s admission into the Freedom of the City of London will give us great pleasure today, because it recognises this outstanding achievement at such a great age and devotion to this worthy cause during these very challenging times," said Munsur Ali, elected member of City of London Corporation.

“Prem Goyal and I are delighted to nominate Dabirul and send our warmest wishes to him and his family who, we feel sure, are rightly proud of his fundraising efforts.”

Reacting to the announcement Dabirul’s son Atique Choudhury said, “I would like to thank the Lord Mayor, Munsur Ali, and Prem Goyal, for their kind support in giving this prestigious award to my father, who will accept it on behalf of all the senior citizens of London and immigrants who came to London and have made this city so vibrant and multi-cultural.

“My father wishes that we all support the most vulnerable during this very difficult time.”

Born on January 1, 1920 in Kulanj village in Sunamganj, Dabirul moved to London in 1957, settling in St Albans, and began working as a community leader. Atique, recalls that his father was the first Bangladeshi person to make his home in the town, and also set up the first Indian restaurant in St Albans in the early 1960s.

Dabirul's wife Khaleda Dabir Chowdhury is a leader of the UK chapter of the Awami League.

The pensioner is commonly known as 'poet Dabirul' among the Bangladeshi diaspora. An avid poetry-lover, Dabirul recites his own poems at events and programmes organised by the community. He has written thousands of poems and has also published a book of his poetry.