"It was a wonderful evening and one I never thought Id get to experience in my life. I will carry the memory with me for as long as I live."
Roland Chesters, of Luminate consultancy
A man from Surbiton who defied the odds to recover from a late diagnosis of HIV has spent an evening mixing with a host of activists and campaigners.
Roland Chesters was among 124 people nominated for the National Diversity Awards to celebrate their achievements at the finals.
The event was filmed by ITV and hosted by comic actress and writer Sally Phillips, who has starred in three Bridget Jones films, I’m Alan Partridge, Green Wing and Miranda.
She said: “Acknowledging and celebrating the hard work and stand out achievements of role models and community groups throughout the UK is a genuine honour for me.”
Roland has overcome post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic ill health and discrimination to bring greater disability rights to the workplace and tackle the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS.
Roland’s work was recognised along with a breast cancer survivor who created false eyelashes for people undergoing chemotherapy, a reformed gangster and junior bake off star.
Roland, 59, who works as a disability development consultant at Luminate, said: “It was a wonderful evening and one I never thought I’d get to experience in my life. I will carry the memory with me for as long as I live.”
Roland, who was a chair for the disabled staff network at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, fought off a record number of nearly 30,000 entrants to be shortlisted.
Myles Sketchley, the Youth Ambassador of Strongbones, a charity helping families and children with serious conditions of the bone, won in their category for Positive Role Model.
Roland, who has shared his experience in Ripples: From The Edge of Life, said: “I think everybody who made it to the shortlist should be proud of their accomplishments.
“Those who won thoroughly deserved their award and Myles is truly inspirational.”