HOME-GROWN celebrities paid tribute to an Asian pop star – to bring her achievements ‘closer to home’ – in a special memorial evening.
Legendary cricket umpire Dickie Bird and television presenter Harry Gration, were among those who attended the Barnsley event to remember Nazia Hassan.
The iconic Pakistani pop singer, who sold millions of records across the globe, died of lung cancer aged just 35.
She died in London in 2000 but is still regularly honoured and remembered by her dedicated fans.
They include event organiser Mukhtar Tufail, chief executive of the Sheffield Rotherham and District Council of Muslims, who said the singer was an ‘inspiration’ to him.
Mukhtar, from Sheffield, said: “The event for me was a chance to pay homage to a star who in her short life touched so many people in more ways than one.
“Be it her music or her social work, each and everything had a selfless aim.
“It was set up to endorse Nazia’s achievements at a local level.
“I wanted to show how she brought down barriers and brought people together.
“This is not honouring somebody like Madonna or Michael Jackson’s achievements.
“I was around when there was only a half-hour Asian slot on television and it changed when I remember seeing Nazia Hassan on national television on a Saturday morning.
“It showed that Asian people were normal, they sang and danced and it took away all the cliches.
“Having local Yorkshire celebrities promoting Nazia’s achievements brings them closer to home.”
The memorial evening was held at the DilRaj restaurant on High Street, Dodworth, Barnsley, where Mukhtar is the customer service manager and several special guests are regular diners.
Other celebrities who attended included radio host Simon Hirst, who was born in Barnsley, and Barnsley FC defender Bobby Hassell.
The event went so well that around 200 people are expected to attend another memorial to Nazia Hassan, with different special guests, next April at a local hotel.
Mukhtar, aged 37, said: “We were very honoured that somebody like Dickie Bird, who is a lifetime member at the restaurant, came and also brought Harry Gration.”