Hemel sisters receive inspiration awards at major event organised by the Mayor of London

25,000 people attended the event in Trafalgar Square
Rubi Iqbal and Samaira IqbalRubi Iqbal and Samaira Iqbal
Rubi Iqbal and Samaira Iqbal

Two sisters from Hemel Hempstead were recognised at the Inspiring Muslim Awards 2023 in Trafalgar Square.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s free, annual festival which took place on Saturday (29 April),celebrated the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.

An estimated 25,000 people attended the event, where both Samaira and Rubi Iqbal were among this year’s winners.

Rubi Iqbal and Samaira IqbalRubi Iqbal and Samaira Iqbal
Rubi Iqbal and Samaira Iqbal

Developed in partnership with the Eid Community Advisory Group and London-based arts, culture and grass roots Muslim organisations, the theme for this year's festival was the mayor’s #LondonForEveryone campaign and focuses on family, education, and innovation, bringing communities, friends and families together.The main stage was hosted by Ali Official alongside Mariah Idrissi and featured a mix of traditional and contemporary acts including MoYah, The Khan Brothers Qawwali Group, Silk Road Collective plus RnB legend, FaceSoul and finished with a Colours of Eid Parade grand finale as a sea of stunning Eid costumes led by Dhol drummers walked through the Square.And for the first time this year, the Inspiring Muslim Awards were given out on stage, where we recognised and celebrated unsung heroes. It was here that Samaira and Rubi were two of six winners, honoured with Inspiring Muslim Awards.Samaira, 17, was called to the stage to receive her award, she managed to greet the crowd by saying “Eid Muburak” in British Sign Language (BSL) and asked the crowd to copy her. This was met with a loud applause.Samaira explained in her acceptance speech about the importance of not being afraid, or embarrassed, of your own culture and heritage, and why she strives for accessibility and inclusion. These motives come from her own experiences as child of deaf parents, where she learned BSL at a young age.

She said: “Never in a million years did I ever think that I would be standing in a massive iconic Trafalgar Square, in front of over 25,000 people, accepting an ‘Inspiring Muslim Award’!

"And the fact that my sister received an award as well and I’m incredibly proud of everything we have achieved.

"Finally, I wanted to say a Big Thanks to BAFTA team helping me develop a stronger sense of confidence; to Emilia Jones, for her words of encouragement and guidance throughout my journey, it means so much more than you can imagine; and to everyone who has ever supported me.”Rubi, 12, was then called to the stage to receive her award, she said in her acceptance speech: “I can't thank you enough for recognizing me. It means the world to me.

Rubi Iqbal and Samaira IqbalRubi Iqbal and Samaira Iqbal
Rubi Iqbal and Samaira Iqbal

"I also want to give a huge shout-out to my family. They've always believed in me and supported me no matter what. They have taught me to never let my deafness hold me back, and I'm so grateful for everything they've done. I hope that my story can inspire others to embrace their uniqueness and take risks. Thank you all so much, and I will continue to champion on deaf awareness and make efforts to make a difference in the world.”

During the festival, there was a feast of global food stalls including Indian street food from Mr Bombay, silk road delights from Oshpaz Uzbek Street Food, Venezuelan fayre from Pabellon and Somali treats from Hooyo East.