When the invitation to attend the 2023 Newbold College of Higher Education Awards Ceremony arrived in the hands of Councillor Naheed Ejaz, the recently appointed mayor of the Borough of Bracknell Forest, it triggered a 20-year-old memory. While this mayor will receive hundreds of invitations to visit the many global corporation and industrial sites located within her United Kingdom Silicon Valley borough, this invitation to the Awards Ceremony is not the first time she had connected with the Newbold community.
Ejaz is the mother of five children she raised on her own. “They were financially tough times,” she said. To overcome this problem, she discovered a support group in existence at the time called BRICKS, which encouraged payment for goods and services through a cashless exchange system. In the program, two parties trade goods or services directly without money being involved. At the time, one of her daughters was falling behind at school with math and English. It seemed, however, that the “teachers had cast her aside,” Ejaz said. Something had to be done to address this situation, and Ejaz knew that the only solution was to get some private tuition for her daughter, but it was totally unaffordable.
Desperate, she turned to BRICKS for help “through the support of a wonderful lady” at Newbold School, the Adventist-run primary school adjacent to the college. In exchange for math tuition, Ejaz offered cooking lessons and curtain making. “If you go into Newbold School and you see red curtains in the big hall, they were made by me — and this is just to tell you the spirit of community I experienced.”
As a result of the private tuition, it was discovered that her daughter experienced dyslexia. But with a great sense of a mother’s pride, Ejaz went on to tell that her daughter attended “Westminster University and went on to become the youngest digital strategist for Pearson PLC (responsible for the United Kingdom and Europe desk).” Now, her daughter works for Google in the same capacity, Ejaz shared. For Ejaz the story is a little-acorn-becomes-oak-tree experience. And no doubt about it, she sees her story connecting with the Newbold community.
For Trans-European Adventists, it’s a reality that civic leaders invited to attend our special events and celebrations often first require a “briefing paper” about who we are in order to give a speech that connects. It is more than heartwarming that, in this case, through an act of kindness 20 years prior to the mayor’s invitation to the Awards Ceremony — no briefing paper was required.