ENTREPRENEUR HELPS CANCER CHARITY
(14 April 2003)
Awan, the legendary owner of Shere Khan, one of Manchester's most
successful chain of Indian restaurants, got a taste of life at a
cancer charity today when she took part in a job swap with CancerBACUP's
Chief Executive Joanne Rule. While Rule headed up north to supervise
Shere Khan's six chic Manchester restaurants, Awan came south to
take the helm at CancerBacup, the largest specialist provider of
cancer information in the UK; overseeing a freephone helpline currently
receiving a thousand calls a week.
Awan has first-hand experience of living with cancer. Twelve years
ago she was diagnosed and successfully treated for thyroid cancer.
She knows how vital it is for people to have access to independent,
reliable, up-to-date information and support tailored to individual
I was having my treatment I needed someone I could talk to who would
take the time to answer all my questions, listen to my fears and
help me cope with the uncertainty," she said. The CancerBacup
helpline and information service meets all those needs. Today I
particularly enjoyed spending time with the nurses on the helpline,
learning more about the information service generally and offering
some ideas based on my own experience."
wasted little time in her day. The energetic 48-year-old held a
swift photo call followed by a meeting with the directors of the
charity. "I already knew about CancerBacup but the job swap
idea inspired me to think that if I worked here for a day I might
just understand it better. In my business I always encourage people
to come and spend a few hours with us so they can understand who
we are and what we do, so there is direct comparison between the
business world and charity world".
becomes philosophical about her own experience with cancer "it
makes one immediately deny or block out that it's there, but then
you want to learn more about it and get rid of it. You need to reach
a point of turning a negative into a positive and doing something
about it". Having lost her mother to cancer at the age of fifty,
Awan clearly realises the enormous barriers within the Asian community,
"our culture breeds into us that we should keep everything
hidden when really we should be sharing our experiences. It is only
through shared knowledge that we can learn about how to deal with
mother of three, does however feel that we have moved forward in
the last ten years. From networking and great coverage in the media,
cancer is being discussed more openly . "My advice to anyone
with cancer is not to immediately give everything up. Keep your
routine going. Talk to other people and do something about it -
the quicker the better. Never leave it. The routine of your day
is the most important thing" she added.
Awan was born in England to Indian parents. Her parents later migrated
to Lahore and she feels equally comfortable in India and Pakistan.
She started her first business aged eighteen, opened a chain of
clothes boutiques at twenty and created a floristry business bought
by Interflora. In 1987 she got involved with husband Rafique's restaurant
business Shere Khan, abolishing flock wallpaper and velvet drapes
in favour of fresh, funky interiors and bright colours. She is credited
with helping to change the face of Indian cuisine, repositioning
Indian food as an everyday meal. She also launched a range of Shere
Khan products sold in major supermarkets throughout the UK, Europe
has tried to link up with cancer charities with a plan to offer
a penny from each jar of Shere Khan curry sauce sold, but the deal
with the Cancer Research Fund fell through amid concerns that there
is insufficient research to state whether curry is good for health.
Undaunted, Awan firmly believes that there are health benefits in
all curries. "They contain natural products and spices like
turmeric, which contains curcumin, and ginger and garlic all have
healing properties. Different spices have different benefits for
parts of your body and you can't get closer to natural health than
with a curry provided you avoid ghee, sugar and excessive salt."
a lady whose motto is "health is wealth", it will not
be long before Shere Khan launches a range of healthy eating, low-fat
is the only national charity that specialises in providing information
on all types of cancer. It is part of the Department of Health Coalition
for Cancer Information, which aims to ensure cancer information
is of a high standard and widely accessible.
0808 800 1234 (Mon-Fri, 9am-7pm).
The charity's interactive website can be found at www.cancerbacup.org.uk