By Imran A. Chowdhury:
The eclectic cosmopolitan British society in Northamptonshire is an excellent reflection of interfaith cohesion, multicultural integration and a bridging of all the communities together in the country, to say the least. Living in the country for well over 16 years has allowed me to gain significant knowledge surrounding the intricacies of the diverse communities and their multi-faceted activities.
But one towering personality who has embodied the essence of multi-community living is none other than Neelam Aggarwal-Singh. She is an inspiration, the epitome of leadership and a champion of achievement.
As a young lady, she came to the UK from the remote semi-urban areas of India with an excellent graduate degree but not a single word of the English language with which to start a conversation. She has evidently come a long way and that speaks of her staggering resilience and tenacity.
She has met with many barriers and experienced many hardships of her own, yet nothing has been able to dampen her spirit and she has weathered every calamity with her determination, resolve and, above all, her faith in her God.
It is difficult to pen a mere few words of praise for her, as her achievements in social work, community building and philanthropical quests know no bounds. She has given the Northampton communities the essence of celebration, of colour, pomp and pageantry by introducing Diwali festivities, which have now become an annual event for all the communities living in Northampton. She is the inspiration behind a Hindu organisation that provides many activities for the community and has also become a pivotal point for the women of the community. Their activities around wellbeing, their healthy-living lifestyle and camaraderie speak volumes.
Neelam is a maker of history in the county. In Northamptonshire’s Lieutenancy history of 470 years, she is the first Indian-born lady to be adorned as the Deputy Lieutenant. This is a great honour and privilege for the Asian community of Northampton.
Her temperate manner in getting events planned and those event dates incorporated into the social calendar of the Borough Council is another feather in her hat. The annual Diwali celebration is one of her greatest achievements: lighting up the town with little divas (candles) makes the Festival of Light perhaps one of the best events in the town. The enchanting procession itself, together with the
dignitaries and general public in attendance, signifies the prominence of the event with its pomp and panache.
Mrs. Aggarwal-Singh’s community work, her co-founding of the Northampton Interfaith Forum and establishing the IHWO (Indian Hindu Welfare Organisation) are just a few examples among many in her portfolio of social and community projects. Her work has been recognised by Her Majesty the Queen, with the award of a prestigious MBE.
It is a great pleasure to write about this proud mother of three children, a devoted wife, a Justice of the Peace and a real protagonist of our society who dedicates all her leisure time to the various causes of the communities across the town, county and the country. For me, it’s a huge honour to come across such an excellent champion philanthropist.