A London based Sierra Leonean Diaspora charity group has been given a major financial boost – thanks to the work of one of its volunteers, based at BT’s intellectual property rights department. Dr Edward Cole’s dedication was recognised, Sir Mike Rake, BT’s Chairman, at the Chairman’s awards. These awards are the highest accolade of one of the company’s longest running and highly regarded employee Charity Schemes, BT Community Champions. Every year the Chairman’s awards receive hundreds of applications worldwide from outstanding community champions, who commit time, energy, their life skills and talent for the benefit of society and their local area. The applicants are then short listed by a global judging panel from across the company, with the winners being handpicked by the chairman himself.
|Dr Cole (left) receiving award from BT’s chairman Sir Michael Rake
This year Dr Edward Cole was presented with the Education, Development and Awareness award for his unwavering voluntary work with the Sierra Leonean Adventists Abroad. This charity builds bridges between the UK and Sierra Leone which is at the bottom of the UN human development index, mainly due to civil war. The SLAA focuses on linking professionals with projects designed to reduce chronic poverty and improve health and education in poorer communities. Over the last five years the rehabilitation and the reopening of the war-ruined hospital in Masanga Sierra Leone has been one of the charity’s successes. Masanga hospital now provides free medical care for 25,000 patients every year. As well as healthcare the SLAA pays for the education of 60 students, with the aim building up health care and education professionals in the country.
As well as fundraising, Dr Edward Cole has been involved since 2000 in the strategic direction of the charity. And the legal skills he’s learned from his day job at BT, has allowed him to deal with international organisations and governments, which has in turn allowed the charity to flourish. Dr Edward Cole said, "I’m thrilled at winning this award. The volunteering has helped me develop and grow personally and professionally and the acknowledgement I’ve received today makes me feel really valued. The £3000 award will allow us to provide maternity services to a much deprived area of the world where maternal mortality rates are one of the world’s worst. It will make a real difference. It’s great to be recognised in this way and I’d like to recognise the hard work of all the other volunteers in the group as well".
Sir Mike Rake added: "This is the second year I’ve presided over these awards and I’m very impressed by the dedication and selflessness showed by all the volunteers. I’m proud of them all and I’m pleased that BT is able to give back to the community by supporting and encouraging our employees in this way. I’d like to extend my personal thanks to, and admiration for, everyone involved in local community work across the UK and throughout the world. Congratulations again to Edward for his outstanding contribution."