Birmingham & Black Country

'Ramadan special' bike ride organiser honoured by Queen

Naseem Akhtar Image copyright Naseem Akhtar
Image caption Naseem Akhtar said being awarded a BEM was "honourable and wonderful all at once"

A woman who started culturally sensitive exercise groups for women in Birmingham has been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Naseem Akhtar, 51, began the groups in 1998 after noticing there was nowhere for women to go and "just do something for themselves".

In May, she organised a group of 25 women to take part in a "Ramadan special" of the 100-mile Vélo bike ride across the Midlands.

She is awarded a BEM for her work.

Mrs Akhtar, from the city, helps women of all abilities exercise and has taught more than 1,000 women how to cycle.

Image copyright Naseem Akhtar
Image caption Twenty-five cyclists from Saheli Hub took part in the Birmingham Vélo this year

When the Vélo first launched in the Midlands in 2017 she asked organisers for a date outside of Ramadan so fasting women could take part.

When it fell in the Muslim holy month again this year, she asked that her group, Saheli Hub, do the final 10 miles rather than not taking part.

Culturally sensitive groups and classes were important to Mrs Akhtar, who comes from a Muslim background, and in her female-only classes she allows women to "wear what they like".

She said being awarded a BEM was "honourable and wonderful all at once".

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