“We are the future of both Britain and Bangladesh”

QE’s Ridwan Uddin and Nabil Haque have won awards from the Bangladesh High Commission for their GCSE results – and Nabil used his acceptance speech to pay fulsome tribute to the role his grandfathers played in the country’s independence movement.

Year 12 boys Nabil and Ridwan, who are both from families of Bangladeshi origin, received Outstanding Achievement Awards at the High Commission in Kensington after being nominated by Head of Year 12 Liam Hargadon. The awards are offered to British-Bangladeshi pupils gaining at least ten A grades at GCSE or three As at A-level.

Since his tally of 13A*s was the highest of those at his ceremony, Nabil Haque was invited to give an acceptance speech on behalf of his fellow winners. He spoke of his pride at being “recognised as one of my home country’s highest achievers – an honour I deem to be at the pinnacle of my 17 years of life thus far”.

""Nabil, who hopes to study Fine Art at Oxford University’s Ruskin School or University College London’s The Slade, congratulated the other award-winners and paid tribute to his parents for their support. He also thanked “all the teachers, friends and my School – whom I owe much gratitude to”.

However, he reserved his highest praise for his paternal and maternal grandfathers. Both had made the “bold and brave” decision to move to England in the 1950s, but had then constantly travelled to and from Bangladesh “fighting for what they believed in and the independence of our nation”. His mother’s father, Mushtaq Qureshi, had in fact been a freedom fighter, Nabil said. Bangladesh won its independence in 1971.

“My Nana and Dada were the most unselfish men I have ever met. Not only would they provide for their close families with what was not the most generous wage, but they would give freely to the British Bengali community around them, and simultaneously, send an abundance of money back to their homes in Sylhet. I have heard countless parables from both my parents about how strongly both men believed in education, knowledge and culture, tirelessly repeating the mantra that ‘education was the key to success’ as they, too, tirelessly toiled and worked for their family.

""“These two characters were the stalwart figures in the respective sides of my family and, I believe, provided the basis for all I have achieved and wish to achieve in the future,” Nabil said. “As British Bengalis therefore we must remember the dichotomy of our identity; we live in Britain now, but our Bengali links will always stay fundamental to who we are as people. We are the next generation. We are the future of both Britain and Bangladesh.”

After delivering his speech, Nabil was complimented on it by other speakers, particularly MP Desmond Swayne, former Parliamentary Private Secretary to Prime Minister David Cameron.

He was also selected to represent the High Commission in an interview with the Bengali International BBC News Network. And Nabil was invited back to the High Commission for this month’s celebrations marking the 45th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence by the High Commissioner, Md. Abdul Hannan, himself.