Volunteers honoured for contribution to the community (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Volunteers honoured for contribution to the community
A SEPTUAGENARIAN international hockey player has won Redbridge's first Volunteer of the Year award.
Chandra Arora, of Mornington Close, Woodford Green, was honoured at the inaugural Redbridge Community Awards on Friday.
The 73-year-old has given up more than 700 hours of his spare time in the last seven years to coach youngsters hockey in schools across the borough.
He believes sport can promote racial and religious tolerance, as well as health and sense of well-being.
"I was very shocked when I got the nomination, it was nice to be recognised for something by my peers," he said.
"My motto is 'send your children to play sports for that is the only way they can integrate into society.
"There shouldn't be a problem with colour or religion, we are all together'."
Mr Arora first fell in love with the sport when he picked up a hockey stick aged six while growing up in India.
He has spent his adult life playing semi-professionally and regularly plays for the England over-70s team.
He is currently recovering from a knee replacement, but hopes to be back in action soon.
He was nominated by manager at Wanstead Leisure Centre, in Redbridge Lane West, Christina Millar.
Akshay Mandalia, a cadet flight sergeant for the Wanstead and Woodford Air Training Corps, won the Young Volunteer of the Year award.
The 18-year-old has been giving up his spare time to take responsibility for squadron inductions and basic training of new recruits.
He said: "It was a bit of a surprise to be nominated and an honour to win the award.
"It was a really proud moment, the hall was full of so many inspiring people."
Mr Mandalia, of Lord Avenue, Clayhall, is also an A-Level student at Ilford County High School, in Fremantle Road, was nominated by squadron leader Jenny Godden. .
He hopes to become a pilot for the RAF.
The winners were announced at a ceremony at Redbridge Town Hall in Ilford.
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