Let’s ‘see’ how we can help…

Greetings, namaste, salaam and shalom to you and all.

Today I am going to write about something very personal to me and in the process invite you to help me with my appeal.

Sadly, my father, Haji Abdul Gaffar, passed away peacefully, this January, aged 88. He is survived by his wife Zubeda Siddik, five sons (me included) and eight grandchildren. Thankfully, his whole family were with him to hold his hand throughout to share the experience and were able to lay him to rest the following day. It was truly a blessed experience, and certainly the way I would want to go when my time comes.

I would describe him as a quiet and humble man, of good character. He was never afraid of hard work and he did so, in retail and grocery, right up until his retirement. My parents came from north Gujarat in India before meeting and marrying in Zambia. In 1976 they immigrated to the UK intent on educating us and settled in Northampton, making a conscious decision to move into a mixed community where we could retain our traditional values whilst integrating into the ‘new world’.

My parents opened a corner shop (yup for real, I’m not kidding) and I remember coming home from school to help him behind the counter. My parents believed that the most important thing in life was to fulfil your responsibilities to yourself, your family and your community and that the way out of poverty was through education, hard work and charity. I’d like to think we’ve done him proud on that score; we’re well educated, and we’re so very grateful to him, and my mum, for our upbringing.

We’re very fortunate as our faith and tradition allows us to embrace death, offers us hope and a way to celebrate the life of our loved one. As a community we come together to help the bereaved and, in their memory, extend a helping hand to those who need help. My brothers and I are splitting the week and we all spend time with my mother weekly. So now FCC is open one day less, at least until I am joined by a new member of our team who can cover me whilst I return the favour and care for my mum.

We’ve also taken on the challenge of helping my father’s local mosque in Northampton. It was opened several years ago and is run by a group of Imams from Africa including Kenya and Somalia. It is a friendly, inclusive and family orientated mosque for men, women and children and has a school for evenings, weekends and holidays for young boys and girls, teaching them the value of respect, love, compassion and mercy. In fact, they were recently commended by Northamptonshire Police because, and I quote, ‘their youth are polite, well behaved and not involved in any antisocial behaviour’. As five educated brothers, we have got together to help them navigate regulatory issues and begin fundraising so they can modernise their facility.

At our recent meetings, one of the Imams explained he is collecting old and unwanted prescription spectacles, intact or broken to take with him back home to Africa. To my surprise, we found 6 at my mum’s and I also found 3 sitting at home when I came back. I have enlisted the help of family, friends and colleagues and today I would like to reach out to all of you. We have a drop box at our centre and can arrange collection. Please contact me direct on 07801 107 271 or my office at the usual number.

Thank you all in advance for your help and support. Let’s all see how we can help them see…

Thanks for reading, Firoz

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Thanks for reading,


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