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Heart of England gets Asian Voice

Yorkshire batsman Ajmal Shahzad

The rich diversity of Britain is set to be enhanced by a two year project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund that records the experiences of South Asian migrants to the region that is often described as the heart of the UK. A fantastic oral history project conducted by the Asian Voices project is set to lift the lid on the diverse history of Yorkshire.


Traditionally thought of as one of the key regional cultures of Britain, the area has enjoyed a reputation as being quintessentially English. Rolling moors, Emily Bronte, Yorkshire puddings and sepia tinted Hovis adverts all come to mind. Less well know is the history of the Asian community is Yorkshire.

Of course the bastion of Yorkshire pride has always rested with the Yorkshire County Cricket Club.  For years the club refused to play anyone from the local Asian communities. In fact the first Asian to play for Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCC) was Ismail Dawood in 2003. Whatever the protestations of the YCC, race equality is painfully slow when it comes to Yorkshire cricket.

However the history of the area is about to be rewritten and the rich cultural narrative of the Asian community is set to be made public at an event that will be opened by the Mayor Of Kirklees due to take place on Saturday 19th June.

Project manager Nafhesa Ali said:

“The Asian Voices project has been a fantastic opportunity to document the South Asian community in Huddersfield, particularly as many of the first generation are now elderly or have even passed away, therefore making it even more important to preserve their memories before they are lost.”

“Many came to Britain in search for riches and found themselves working endless hours in manual labour jobs, in an industrial blackened Huddersfield in the 1960s. A number of this migrant community were from wealthy families or were farmers with acres of land, but they came in search for a better life with the intention to return, but this was not so.”

“Despite hardship and struggle, this first generation of migrants had positive stories to tell about their experiences; stories that are inspirational and should not be ignored”

“Their histories will help us to understand how their respect for their host community enabled them to break down language and cultural barriers, paving a way for future generations. It will also hopefully make you appreciate why they came to this country and worked hard in manual labour jobs, and the contribution they have made to its success and richness of life.”

Yorkshire will never be the same again that’s for sure.

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