On Sunday 24th February 2019 guests from different communities and faith groups across Chesham gathered at the Town Hall for a special reception celebrating the rich diversity and thriving communities of the town.
The event was hosted by County Council Chairman, Netta Glover. Councillor Mark Shaw, Deputy Leader and ward councillor for Chesham was Master of Ceremonies.
Other guests included HM Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, Professor Ruth Farwell, High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, The Countess Howe and other dignitaries and distinguished guests from the local community.
During the event the Chairman presented Service to the Community Awards to Iman Arif Hussain (Imam of Chesham) and Revd Simon Cansdale (Team Rector of Great Chesham).
Imam Arif Hussain came to the UK at the end of 1984, aged just 25. He has now been in his role, serving the Muslims of Chesham and the wider community for just over 34 years making him the longest serving Imam in one mosque in the country.
Reading his citation, Cllr Mark Shaw said of the Imam: ‘He is an instrument of peace, optimism in nature and believes that people can always work together to foster better understanding in order to create a more harmonious community. He can be truly proud of the work he has done in this community and we know that it will continue to ripple for years to come.‘
Revd Simon Cansdale has served as Team Rector of Great Chesham since June 2008. Reading his citation, Cllr Shaw said of him: ‘He is well known and much loved across the town. He has greatly raised the profile of the Church in the town whilst nurturing the core of church life. He enriches the whole life of the community in Chesham.‘
The event also featured a range of speakers including Irfan Arif, son of the Imam, a barrister and former pupil of Misbourne School and Judge Francis Sheridan.
Speaking after the event Mark Shaw said: ‘I was delighted to see and meet with so many members of the community in Chesham who through their combined efforts make Chesham a great place to live in. Their contribution makes Chesham not just a town with a heart but with a heart that truly beats.‘
Irfan Arif said: ‘It was wonderful to see the community come together and celebrate life in Chesham. Chesham truly is a special place and the friendship, warmth and care which exists between residents reflects the best of us – long may it continue!‘