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The Corporation

Posted: 04/05/17

College chief Dame Asha recognised for ‘outstanding contribution’ to Mansfield and Ashfield

West Nottinghamshire College principal and chief executive Dame Asha Khemka has spoken of her pride at receiving a prestigious award for her major contribution to the local community.

  • Dame Asha proudly accepts her Outstanding Contribution to Mansfield and Ashfield award from Mr Jones and Mrs Cox.
  • Guests at the glittering awards stand to applaud Dame Asha's achievements.
  • The college's principal and chief executive thanked the business community "for embracing me and helping me achieve my vision."
  • Dame Asha described herself as "proud and overwhelmed" to receive the accolade.
  • Malcolm Hall MBE (right) takes to the stage to accept his special recognition award.
  • Malcolm Hall MBE addresses the audience after receiving his award.
  • John Mattison, of Mattinson Consultancy Ltd (centre), accepts the award on behalf of Martin Rigley MBE, who was unfortunately unable to attend the ceremony.

She was among the big winners at the 11th annual Mansfield and Ashfield 2020 Ball and Business Awards, attended by more than 250 business figures on Friday 28 April.

Dame Asha received the coveted ‘Outstanding Contribution to Mansfield and Ashfield’ award for her “tireless efforts” to boost the local area through education and training.

Guests at the glittering event at John Fretwell Sporting Complex, Sookholme, heard that Dame Asha had personally driven a £50m investment in transforming the college’s estate over the last eight years, which recently concluded with the opening of Mansfield’s first-ever university centre; while under her direction it had become one of the leading colleges in the UK.

Accepting the accolade, Dame Asha took the opportunity to reflect on her time as a business and educational leader, saying: “Thank you to the Mansfield and Ashfield business community for embracing me and helping me achieve my vision. I am so proud and overwhelmed to receive this award”.

2020 operations director Caroline Cox said: “Dame Asha’s drive to break the glass ceiling has seen Mansfield and Ashfield benefit from millions of pounds-worth of investment, which is fantastic. For that we wanted to recognise and acknowledge her achievements and, above all, thank her for her tireless efforts.”

2020 chairman Russell Jones said: “The room was so quiet and respectful towards Dame Asha, showing a true sign that the whole audience hold her in their hearts and have a deep and true respect for all her achievements. 2020 are thankful for the efforts Dame Asha has made and the difference her achievements have made in our community.”

Speaking afterwards, Dame Asha said: “Being chosen for this honour by those within the community I have worked so hard to serve is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. The success of the college, its students and our community as a whole is what motivates me; doing the best I can for them will always be my passion. 

“I consider myself an ambassador for Mansfield and Ashfield and will continue to raise their profile wherever I am in the world.”

The ceremony also included special tributes to two business leaders with links to the college and at Vision Studio School, which it sponsors.

Malcolm Hall MBE, managing director of Mansfield-based Hall-Fast Industrial Supplies, and Martin Rigley MBE, managing director of Sutton-in-Ashfield firm Lindhurst Engineering, received special recognition awards for their consistent promotion of the local business community and work in inspiring young people.

The pair were awarded MBEs last year for their services to business but 2020 was keen to recognise them locally.

Chairman Mr Jones said: “To have two business leaders provide consistent support and promote the area in a positive light is something we are very proud of, and we wanted to personally thank them.”

Operations director Mrs Cox said: “Malcolm and Martin define the true spirit of our business community. They consistently drive to put Mansfield and Ashfield on the map in a positive light and work hard to inspire our next generation of young people. We are thankful for their continued support.”

The awards, hosted by the long-established business development group, rewarded the achievement of employers and leaders that have shown entrepreneurial and enterprising fortitude, recognising their contribution to the economic development of the Nottinghamshire area.

There were eight categories ranging from ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit’ to ‘Business of the Year’.

The award to Dame Asha came just weeks after she was named Businesswoman of the Year at the fifth annual Asian Business Awards Midlands, held on Friday 7 April at Edgbaston cricket ground in Birmingham.