A BELOVED ex-mayor and Rugby’s longest-serving councillor has been given another prestigious honour by his country of birth.
Dr James Shera has been honoured with the Hilal-e-Quaid-i-Azam Gold Medal, one of the Government of Pakistan’s highest awards, conferred on those who have given outstanding and selfless service to improving human rights.
Presenting the medal to Dr Shera were the Right Reverend Bishop Yousaf Nadeem Bhinder, the Bishop of His Grace Churches International; Mr Samuel Payara, Chair of Implementation Minority Rights Forum Pakistan and Director of Bright Futures Society Pakistan; and Roekh Yousaf, Leader of Holy Trinity Church of England Church Liverpool Diocese.
Dr Shera has dedicated years of his life to developing inter-cultural understanding, including during his time as Mayor of Rugby, and as Leader of the Labour Group on Rugby Borough Council for nine years.
Current Labour Group Leader Coun Maggie O’Rourke said: “Dr Shera is a true champion of equality and it’s fantastic to see he is so highly regarded internationally as well as at home.”
Coun Barbara Brown, the Chair of Rugby’s Constituency Labour Party, presented the award to Dr Shera in Rugby’s Council Chamber.
She said: “James is a remarkable man. His tireless support for minority groups, for fairness and for public services for everyone deserves every recognition.”
Dr Shera retired last May after 40 years of service to the borough as a Labour councillor for Benn Ward.
He made history in 1988 when he became the first Pakistani to be elected Mayor of Rugby, and four years later he became one of the first recipients of the prestigious Star of Pakistan, awarded by the president of Pakistan for services to community and interfaith relations.
Coun Shera was made an MBE in 2007 and a decade later was made an Honorary Freeman of the Borough of Rugby – the highest honour Rugby Borough Council can bestow.
Last year, the Forman Christian College in Pakistan awarded Dr Shera an honorary Ph.D in arts and letters in recognition of his services to community relations and interfaith relations, and he also received an honorary doctorate from Coventry University.
Dr Shera will travel to Pakistan in the near future for the formal investiture of the Hilal-e-Quaid-i-Azam Gold Medal.