Ahmed Nazari and Ameer Shekarchi might sound like typical teenagers - their conversation is peppered by words such as ‘like’ and ‘sort of’ - but the 17-year olds are definitely not your average teenagers.
By day the boys are both students at Acton High School but come evenings and weekends, the wholesome, approachable duo - they’re a bit like the proverbial boy next door - change from sixth form students to fundraisers for Rays of Sunshine (a children’s charity that was formed in 2003 to help children who are living with serious or life-limiting illnesses between the ages of three-18, across the UK).
Their devotion to raising funds for the charity is almost religious. At the end of 2013, Ahmed and Ameer organised a staff football match at Acton High between the different departments, raising £168 for Rays of Sunshine. And on April 10 the boys are staging a charity football match for the public at the Bonnington grounds opposite Acton Town tube station. They hope to attract up to 36 teams from local schools and the wider community who want to come down and pay a pound each to play. Again all proceeds raised will go directly to Rays of Sunshine.
Why Rays of Sunshine? “We read about what they do [granting children's wishes however impossible the wish may seem] and it struck a chord,” reveal Ameer and Ahmed. They continue: “Plus Rays of Sunshine is a relatively small charity so it’s nice to know that whatever we succeed in raising, really will make a difference.”
It’s clear after a couple of minutes of taking to Ameer and Ahmed that they have an obvious appetite for the football fundraiser. There’s barely a moment during our chat when they’re not grinning from ear to ear and responding to almost every question with a labrador like enthusiasm.
Their drive and determination to raise funds for Rays of Sunshine through the forthcoming football match sets them apart from their contemporaries - and has led Rachel Pepper, project manager at Acton Community Forum, to nominate the pair for the ‘Young Achiever’ category of our Pride Awards.
“The boys are incredibly driven,” says Rachel. “They have been meeting with organisations, networking, fundraising and preparing for the up-coming event in great detail and deserve to be recognised.”
Nonetheless their Pride nomination seems to have come as something of a shock to Ameer and Ahmed. “We were overwhelmed,” recalls Ahmed in disbelief. “When I heard the news, I texted Amir immediately and said ‘You won’t believe what has happened...’” Amir adds: “It [the nomination] still hasn’t sunken in!”
They may hate me for saying this, but Ameer and Ahmed are basically two nice boys who - whether they win a Pride Award or not - are sure to go far...
For more information on the charity football match on 10 April 2014, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com