THE CHAIR of a Warwickshire anti-discrimination body – and Rugby’s longest-serving councillor – has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Coventry University.
Dr James Shera MBE, who has represented Benn Ward on Rugby Borough Council since 1981, was given the doctorate in recognition of his contribution to intercultural and interfaith harmony and multicultural education.
The award took Coun Shera by surprise, having only received an honorary doctorate weeks earlier from the Forman Christian College University in Lahore, Pakistan.
Junaid Hussain, Chief Executive of the Equality & Inclusion Partnership (EQuIP) of which Coun Shera is Chair, said: “We are absolutely delighted for James and are so proud of his recent award from Coventry University and all of his achievements over the years.
“It is an honour to have James as Chair of our county-wide organisation, which has benefited from his experience and knowledge from interfaith, multicultural education and developing good relations between different communities and faith groups from around the world.
“We have all had our recent challenges and after a devastating year, we will certainly be celebrating James’ enormous achievements when we are able to resume face-to-face contact.”
The awards add to the list of Coun Shera’s existing accolades of being the longest serving Pakistani councillor in the UK, being awarded the Star of Pakistan for services to community and interfaith relations in 1992, an MBE in 2007, and becoming an Honorary Freeman of Rugby Borough in 2017.
Coun Shera came to the UK in 1971 from Pakistan, having studied in both countries, and started his career as a teacher in Rugby. He developed links in the community and in wider multi-faith communities across the UK, and through his extensive connections in Pakistan, he soon established a platform for multicultural and multifaith dialogue for peace and prosperity between the two countries.
He became the first Rugby Borough councillor to reach ten terms – and the longest-serving Pakistani councillor in the UK – when he was re-elected in 2018.
James Shera Way was named after him for his campaigns as chair of council of fellows of Warwickshire College.
Coun Shera laid the first brick of the Pakistani Community Centre in Rugby. He also helped in the construction of the Rugby Mosque, and a dedicated place for the burial of the Muslim community in Rugby.