‘It is our duty to help’: Teacher continuing legacy of his former mayor father

Morrisons store manager Daniel Barrett, Naeem Sheikh, Tom Leather and store Covid champion Lutfa Begum. Picture: Tom Barnes

Morrisons store manager Daniel Barrett, Naeem Sheikh, Tom Leather and store Covid champion Lutfa Begum. Picture: Tom Barnes - Credit: Tom Barnes

The son of a former mayor of Newham who died of coronavirus is continuing his father’s legacy by delivering food to vulnerable families self-isolating.

Abdul Karim Sheikh was ceremonial mayor of Newham during the 1998-99 municipal year. Picture: Sheikh family

Abdul Karim Sheikh was ceremonial mayor of Newham during the 1998-99 municipal year. Picture: Sheikh family - Credit: Archant

Community pioneer Abdul Karim Sheikh dedicated his life to serving the people of Newham. He died in April aged 82 after contracting Covid-19.

Now his son Naeem, who is a teacher at Forest Gate Community School, is following in his father’s footsteps by dedicating his free time to helping others.

As part of the Newham Covid Champions initiative, he helps to collect food from a local Morrisons supermarket and delivers it to the families of children at his school.

Alongside assistant headteacher Tom Leather, the group are delivering supplies to more than 30 families every fortnight.


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Naeem’s dad Abdul, who founded one of the first mosques in Newham, was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to his community in 1990.

He spent 20 years as a councillor in Newham, including a year as ceremonial mayor in 1998 and a spell as deputy council leader.

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Naeem is proud to be continuing his father’s legacy by helping others.

He said: “My father is a big inspiration without question. He dedicated his life to serving this community and I want to continue that legacy in my own way.

“Being a teacher, you are on the front line and you see that many of your families are struggling during this time. It is our duty to help those that need us.

“When they are not at school many of these children will not get a square meal because their parents are really struggling.

“Like my dad I want to give back to my community as much as I can.

Mr Leather added: “This is a school and a community that does not stand back when one of our own needs help.

“Throughout this pandemic the staff at this school have gone above and beyond for our students and their families. We are not just a school but a family. We stand together.”

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