Editor's comment: Don't forget - Hackney is full of heroes
PUBLISHED: 15:11 05 June 2019
The young men who rescued their neighbours from a fire were so modest it ended up being quite hard to do our jobs.
The first challenge was tracking them down after a phone call from a grateful resident - I don't think they'd ever have got in touch of their own accord. Then, when we did, they didn't want the fuss or attention of having pictures taken. And then - aren't they always - they were quick to downplay their achievements and deflect the praise onto others.
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I say this not to embarrass them but as a reminder that, as we go about our lives in Hackney, we walk among heroes. The person who delivers your post, answers the phone, sells you a Gazette, crosses the road in front of you, asks you for change - any or all of them could have saved a life, or could save yours tomorrow. They may be a London firefighter or a paramedic; they may simply be in the right place at the right time. Judging by his modesty this week, even Zakariya Ahmed's friends at Madina Mosque may not have known that he volunteered with Grenfell victims the day after the devastating fire that killed 72 people in 2017. Anyone who had their bus tickets checked by James Boston may not have realised he was a qualified teacher, or that his good grace and cheery disposition came despite the fact he was frequently subjected to appalling racism.
We should remember all this when our tempers are short. We should remember it, too, when we catch ourselves making judgements based on appearances.
That Hackney is full of unsung courage and kindness was one reason the annual civic awards were founded in 2016. Hackney's heroes can't be relied on to blow their own trumpet.
I reckon that means the rest of us should shout twice as loudly about the achievements of our neighbours and friends.