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21st century matchmaker wins AoC Gold Award

Press Release Former Student Student Recognition Art & Design

Sam Wright, Wakefield College Principal, Adeem Younis and the President of the Association of Colleges’ Charitable Trust, Lord Willis of Knaresborough.

Online entrepreneur and 21st century matchmaker Adeem Younis has won an Association of Colleges’ Gold Award. He was nominated by Wakefield College as an inspiration to other students.

Adeem, 30, studied Graphic Design at Wakefield College, West Yorkshire completing his studies in 1999 before going onto the University of Leeds. He was presented with his award on Wednesday (8 June) by Lord Willis of Knaresborough, President of the AoC Charitable Trust, at a ceremony at the House of Commons.

The AoC Charitable Trust presents the Gold Awards to a select number of former college students each year in recognition of the vital role further education plays in the careers of the winners and of their continuing achievements.

Adeem has always acknowledged the role that his college has played in his success, particularly the work experience opportunities which gave him the confidence to set up his own businesses.

He said: “It’s a great honour to be recognised in this way and I guess I wouldn’t be standing here without the help of Wakefield College. I can honestly say that Wakefield College has given me the best start in life. The courses were relevant, up-to-date and practical and I’ll always value the support and guidance I had from my tutors every step of the way. They played a huge part in my development, not just as a designer but as a person.

“Collectively, they gave me the knowledge, belief and confidence to go out there and succeed in my chosen field – for that I am hugely grateful. At college I learnt the importance of believing in myself and without the encouragement I received I doubt I’d be where I am today.”

Adeem set up his first company, providing web design, development and online marketing solutions, while still at college. Since then his flair for business has seen him set up a number of businesses, a charity and help 20,000 people get married through his website

While at college Adeem realised that many of his well-educated friends were finding it hard to meet suitable marriage partners and came up with a modern solution to an age-old problem. He launched his online matrimonial service for fellow Muslims in 2000. The site now has more than half a million registered members worldwide and has helped bring about more than 10,000 marriages. It has featured in the media, both at home and abroad, including a BBC1 documentary and as part of a series on ITV1.

His other ventures have included an Indian restaurant, famous for its chocolate curry, and Penny Appeal (, a charity he set up in 2009 on the fourth anniversary of the devastating Kashmir earthquake which left 75,000 dead. The charity aims to relieve poverty and give orphaned or destitute children in North West Pakistan access to education.

His work has garnered a number of awards, including the Shell LiveWire Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2003. He was a finalist in the Business Entrepreneur category in the Wakefield District Business Awards in 2007 and highly commended in the e-Business category in 2009.

The Association of Colleges’ Chief Executive, Martin Doel, said: “The AoC Gold Awards highlight the way in which colleges can significantly enhance the lives of their students by providing them with the skills they need for their future success. The superb work done by both students and their colleges across a variety of sectors prove that, no matter what your aspirations, further education can make a major contribution towards achieving a rewarding, fulfilling career.

“I’d like to extend my congratulations to Adeem, who is a shining example of just how far students can go when their talent and ambition is both recognised and nurtured.”

Sam Wright, Principal of Wakefield College, said “We are delighted that Adeem has won the AoC Gold Award through his learning and development at Wakefield College. Adeem has shown the determination to succeed in his many ventures. He is a shining example of the accomplishments that our learners demonstrate in their working lives and highlights the benefits that further education has on individuals for years to come”.

To highlight the important role further education plays for students today, the AoC Charitable Trust runs a ‘mini me’ campaign alongside the Gold Awards. The nominating colleges each select a current student who shows promise in a similar field to their Gold Award winner.

Aspiring graphic designer Ching Lam Cheng, 20, will get the opportunity to meet his muse at the award ceremony at the House of Commons and find out what it takes to carve out a successful career and about the role that his college can play in his future achievements.

Ching is currently studying a BTEC course in Graphic Design. He hopes to pursue a career in design. He spoke very little English when he moved to England from Hong King six years ago and faced a tough first year at school in preparation for GCSEs. After a false start doing A-levels at another college, Ching decided to change direction and study Graphic Design at Wakefield College.

He said: “My tutor has given me a lot of support and help which has made studying a lot more comfortable and rewarding. After completing my first year at Wakefield College I’m quite confident in saying that Graphic Design is a subject area that reflects the many talents that are within my skills range. I feel it’s a subject that I can flourish in and can have the opportunity to shine as a top designer in years to come.”

This is the College’s second Gold Award. In 2004, engineering student and young female engineer of the year, Faye Banks also scooped the coveted award.


CONTACT: For more information email, or telephone 01924 789789.
DATE: 6 June, 2011

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