Hundreds of well-wishers gather to remember Alan Henning as ‘local, national and world hero’ at ceremony in his memory

By on October 13, 2014

Hundreds of well-wishers gathered last night to pay tribute to murdered British hostage Alan Henning and to remember him as ‘a local, national and world hero’.

His widow, Barbara, and their children children Adam, 15, and Lucy, 17, together with other family members, attended the ceremony at the British Muslim Heritage Centre in Whalley Range, Manchester.

The tribute, entitled ‘His Life and Legacy Remembered’, included speeches from friends of the popular 47-year-old taxi driver and also faith and political leaders.

Opening the service, Dr Usman Choudhry said: ‘In short we are here to remember a hero. A local hero, a national hero and we will also say a world hero

A hero who left the comfort of his own home for no other reason than to help the destitute and needy refugees of Syria.

‘A hero who put the needs of others before his own and that hero is Alan Henning.’

He added that the service, organised by friends and humanitarian aid colleagues of Mr Henning, also served to support ‘those willing to stand up for the rights of humanity and the poor and the repressed, and are prepared to work and not just talk about what they believe in’.

Majid Freeman, from Leicester, who travelled to Syria on two convoys with Mr Henning – including his fateful last one in December – told those gathered: “Alan was a beautiful genuine human being, inside and out.

‘He went to Syria to help at a time when the whole international community had abandoned them.

‘The international community leaders were paying mere lip service while Alan and many other aid workers were actually feeding these people, sheltering them, giving them aid, taking nappies for the babies, ambulances and generators for the hospitals, sweets and toys for the children and so much more.’

He said his friend had watched a television news item on Syrian children dying in hospital and rather than switching over the channel and getting on with his life he had chosen to raise funds to buy a generator for a Syrian hospital which would hopefully save lives.Alan Henning2

Mr Freeman recalled how on their December visit the convoy had stopped off late at night en route in Venice.

Many of the convoy members decided to catch up on sleep in a hotel but Mr Henning opted to remain in his ambulance.

He said: ‘I asked Alan why and he said “I’m going to stay in my ambulance, I’m going to save that money and give that money to the people in Syria”. That is the kind of person Alan was.’

His friend and fellow aid worker, Dr Shameela Islam-Fulfiqar, said: ‘Alan Henning did what most of us just think about. He sacrificed his time, his energy, his home comforts to help people who were suffering and he paid the ultimate price for this.

‘His jolly nature, his warm smile and his caring aura were something that radiated to all that were around him.

‘His ability to engage with with anybody and everybody made all who had met him feel they had known him for a lifetime.’

Imam Asim Hussain of Manchester Central Mosque said: ‘He put others before himself. Alan was an individual who embodies more Islamic values than the entire Isis put together, that’s what makes him our hero.

‘He was an example for all of us. He was a man who put others before himself. It takes a man to do that. Not everyone is capable of doing that.

‘He went out there and put others before himself. For that, we stand up and salute Alan Henning. That’s what made him special and why we celebrate him.’

North West MEP Afzal Khan, former Lord Mayor of Manchester, said: ‘The actions of this so-called Islamic Sate are crimes against humanity.’

A video tribute was played to the audience in which several Syrian children who Mr Henning helped spoke of how much they missed ‘Uncle Gadget’ – the aid worker’s nickname.

Last Sunday, Mrs Henning and her family joined hundreds of well-wishers at a service of ‘reflection and solidarity’ at Eccles Parish Church in Salford.

A video showing the brutal murder of Mr Henning – who was kidnapped last December in Syria by Islamic State (ISIS) militants – was posted on the internet by the group last week.

Mr Henning, from Eccles, was captured while delivering food and supplies on an aid convoy to refugees.

At the end of the ceremony hosted by Dr Choudhry of the Cheadle Muslim Association, a plaque to mark the event was presented to Mrs Henning by the the heritage centre’s vice chairman Saima Alvi.

About EKELEME JUDITH OLUCHI

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