Her Excellency Saida Muna Tasneem, High Commissioner of Bangladesh to the UK, will present the inaugural ‘Bangabandhu-Edward Heath Friendship Award’ to The Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation at Arundells in Salisbury Cathedral Close on Wednesday, 26 January from 1pm.

Peter Batey will be receiving the award on behalf of Sir Edward, as Chair of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, and the Lord Lieutenant for Wiltshire Sarah Rose Troughton, Leader of Salisbury City Council Cllr Richard Clewer, Salisbury City Councillor Atiqul Hoque, Dean of Salisbury Cathedral Nick Papadopulos Andy Rhind-Tutt, President of Salisbury and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Mayor of Salisbury Caroline Corbin will also be in attendance and speaking.

The award is presented to those who would make extraordinary contributions in promoting Bangladesh-UK friendship.  The Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation maintains Arundells in Salisbury, the former home and gardens of Prime Minister Edward Heath, for members of the public to visit, and promotes discussion of events in the history, politics and international relations of the second half of the Twentieth Century.

Her Excellency Saida Muna Tasneem, High Commissioner of Bangladesh tHIGo the UK, said:  “Sir Edward Heath’s contribution to UK-Bangladesh relations played a crucial role in establishing independence in 1972. In presenting this award to the Sir Edward Heath Foundation, we recognise the extraordinary contribution made by Heath in establishing UK-Bangladesh friendship and the ongoing contribution which the Foundation makes to that special relationship and friendship between Bangladesh and the UK.”

Peter Batey, Executive Chair of the Trustees of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, commented: ‘”The Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation is honoured to be the first recipient of the Bangabandhu-Edward Heath Friendship Award and to welcome the High Commissioner to Salisbury. Edward Heath was always proud of the role that his government played in supporting the independence of Bangladesh. He was greatly impressed by his first meeting with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and was delighted to facilitate his travel to Bangladesh.  The warm personal relationship which they established helped serve as a strong foundation for the UK-Bangladesh relationship in subsequent years. Here at Arundells we proudly display to our visitors the Bangladesh Liberation War Honour in Sir Edward Heath’s former study. We look forward to welcoming more members of the British Bangladeshi community to the house in the years to come.”

Sir Edward Heath provided significant help towards the independence of Bangladesh, and the award commemorates the 50th anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s maiden visit to the United Kingdom on the 8 January 1972. Heath held discussions with Bangabandhu at Downing Street on independence for Bangladesh and the prospect of Commonwealth membership and is seen as an instrumental moment in the relationship between the UK and Bangladesh. He then used his influence with President Richard Nixon to encourage the US to adopt a positive approach towards Bangladesh.

The award was launched, with the support of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in January 2022 at an event titled “Bangabandhu in Britain: The Historic 8 January”, attended by Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden as well as British ministers and cross-party parliamentarians, diplomats, academics and leading figures from the British-Bangladeshi community. Bangladesh Foreign Minister Momen described the event as bearing unparallel historic, geo-strategic and diplomatic significance in the robust Bangladesh-UK diplomatic relations of 2022 and beyond.