A REAL community hero has been recognised for 40 years of dedicated volunteer work.
Muhammed Bodruzzaman was surprised to be presented with a certificate and commemorative plate from the Bangladesh Welfare Association.
The 74-year-old was one of the founding members of the group, when it formed in 1971, after Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan.
He moved from London to Portsmouth in the 1970s to work in a restaurant.
And Muhammed, of Cottage View, Southsea, had two goals he wanted to achieve for the Bangladeshi community in the city when he arrived.
He said: ‘When I first moved here, there were only around 150 Bangladeshi people – at present we have between 10,000 to 12,000 in the area.
‘There were two things I wanted to do – I wanted to set up a mosque so people had a place to pray to Allah and I wanted to set up classes for children to learn their mother tongue.
‘There are now six classes where people can learn Bengali and I helped establish the Jami Mosque in Southsea.
‘It’s a great honour to have these awards.
‘But I think the owner of the award should be going out to the whole community because they are the ones who have supported me.
‘This is a great honour, but not something I could’ve done without the support of the people.’
Muhammed, a retired restaurant owner, ran the Jumuna, Elm Grove, from 1973 to 1985 and then the Last Viceroy, Osborne Road, both in Southsea, from 2003 to 2006.
He was presented with his award at the Buckland Community Centre, Malins Road, Buckland, where the association held a party to celebrate its 40th birthday.
Guests included Mohammed Sayeedur Rahamn Lehan, the high commissioner of Bangladesh, MP for Portsmouth North Penny Mordaunt and Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon Jackson. Lutfur Rahman Chowdhury, president of the Bangladesh Welfare Association, said: ‘Muhammed was our first secretary when we opened.
‘The Bangladeshi community in Portsmouth decided they wanted to honour him as an elder in the community, and as someone who has done so much for us.’
Muhammed’s latest project involves starting a fundraising campaign in order to build a Shaheed Minar monument in Portsmouth.
The memorial would remember activists that died in 1952, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, who had campaigned to speak Bengali.