George Miah has been awarded an BEM for his services to the community
"Exceptional” few handed medals in castle grounds
Community stalwarts and Covid-19 heroes were honoured in style, by order of Her Majesty, the Queen.
On a glorious afternoon in the sun at Shrewsbury Castle, British Empire medals were awarded by Lord Lieutenant Anna Turner, the Queen’s representative in Shropshire. Although it wasn’t quite a garden party at Buckingham Palace, the castle provided a fitting location for worthy Salopians who proudly wore their gleaming medals on their chests.
Thankfully, heavy lunchtime showers abated, and the sun shone as members of the Lord Lieutenant’s team described the selfless acts that medal recipients had undertaken, before inviting them to get their medals, as their family, friends and fellow recipients applauded and beamed with pride.
Sufu “George” Miah, a restaurateur from Oswestry who has raised hundreds of thousands for charities and has played a major role in Shropshire’s Muslim community, said “I can’t describe the feeling really,” after receiving his medal. “It’s a fitting place for it, and it didn’t rain,” he added.
Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire, Anna Turner, told the recipients and their families. “I love my job – what a privilege to be able to meet people like yourselves doing so much in the community.
“On behalf of her majesty, the person we have so much respect for, I get to thank the people she has so much respect for.
“You have been awarded a BEM because you are exceptional, and someone though highly enough of you that they were prepared to nominate you.
“The standard of these awards is extremely high, the assessment and scrutiny is rigorous. There are many more nominations than awards. One of the nicest things about reading the citations is to hear what you have done for the benefit of others; you have improved other people’s lives and you are being recognized for this.
“I also don’t want to forget those behind the scenes, your family, friends and colleagues who probably cringe when you go near them for fear you will ask another favour to help your cause. They will have been backing you up for years and these medals are for them too. The medals reflect their input as well.
“I look at you in awe, having heard and read the citations it makes me realise what humanity is all about.
“I have a very strong lieutenancy team without whom I couldn’t manage and today I would like to thank them. We try to make sure Shropshire gets recognized as a true reflection of all the good work so many do.
“Thanks to castle, what a wonderful venue with so much history, giving such a sense of occasion. You are probably sitting on the very same place that high status feasting took place in the 11th century.
“I want you to go away after today and realise how grateful Her Majesty is of the work you do in the community and remember today as a day you were proud of what you have achieved because we are very proud to have you in Shropshire.
“My congratulations to each and every one of you.”
Nick Humphreys, Shropshire Star, May 2021
The Simla Oswestry - In the local press
"I really don't know how to say a huge thank you from thee bottom of my heart to all the well wishers, this award is for you all"
OSWESTRY MAN awarded British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours
Mr George Miah (BEM) has been awarded a BEM for his services to the community throughout the town.
The honours list recognises the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom and is an award given by the Queen for outstanding service to the community or local ‘hands on’ service.
Mr Miah, opened his restaurant, The Simla, in Oswestry 44 years ago, and has played a huge part in the community ever since.
He said his British Empire Medal was overwhelming and a complete shock.
Mr Miah has raised hundreds of thousands of pound for charity over the years, mainly Shropshire charities and good causes but also to help the Indian sub continent.
He and his wife Julie also have links with several local schools, helping to give the pupils an understanding of Indian culture or getting involved with their international week celebrations.
The charity work is a whole team effort involving the family and my staff,” he said.
“It is something that I have done, quietly, for a long, long time.”
He has also spent many years involved in the Muslim community for Shropshire and beyond.
The list is usually published in June, when the Queen celebrates her official birthday, but it was postponed so that individuals who played crucial roles in the first months of the coronavirus outbreak could be added.
Oswestry Life Magazine, October 2020.
Things are spicing up throughout Shropshire in preparation for a national virtual charity night celebrating Indian cuisine.
By Rory Smith, Shropshire Star. Published: May 21, 2020
Simla Tandoori Restaurant in Oswestry are getting ready for The Big Curry Night In – an opportunity for the UK to come together under lockdown and enjoy the one of nation’s favourite dishes while helping feed thousands of people in South Asia.
From today through to Sunday, May 31, hundreds of restaurants and takeaways around the country will help to support the British Asian Trust’s appeal to raise funds to help feed families in South Asia who have lost their daily paid work due to the Covid-19 crisis and as a result have lost their ability to buy food.
The restaurants are asking customers to donate £1 when ordering a takeaway meal in support of the appeal, and hopes to make a difference to hundreds of families in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka giving them the chance to buy food and essential items for another month.
Founded by The Prince of Wales, The British Asian Trust has helped more than five million people in South Asia in the fields of education, livelihoods, anti-trafficking and mental health.
"I love Oswestry," he said "I love the people here. It's my life but the early days were hard days. We took a lot of abuse. At least once a month a window would be smashed. People would leave without paying and there was a flight in the restaurant at least once a fortnight.
"It was difficult, but there's none of that any more. In fact the people who did that will come in now and tell their grandchildren what they did and how wrong it was, and I find that quite special.
"We don't have that any more. Things have come a long way." Mr Miah started working part-time at Shiraz restaurant in Shrewsbury in 1968, before working in Dudley for six years where he met his wife Julie. But Mr Miah said his uncle didn't want him working for others forever, he wanted to see him branch out and run a place of his own.
"My uncle would just hop on and off buses hoping to find a suitable place for me. He looked in Ludlow, Market Drayton, Bishop's Castle but when he saw what's now Simla it was perfect and readily on a plate, " he said.
"So I asked the landlord for six months rental of the property but he asked if I could try a year really to see how it goes and the rest is that."
Mr Miah recalls the early days when customers would opt for English meals such as fish and chips at the restaurant.
"To begin with I'd say 85 per cent of customers would go for traditional English meals. For example, if I served 30 to 40 meals of a lunchtime, only two of those would be curries," he said.
"It wasn't until the early 1980's when I noticed a shift in preference, when chicken tikka masala was the in thing and that was actually made for a western palate."
During his time in Oswestry, Mr Miah has become one of the most popular members of the community, immersing himself in community life through fund-raising and his general warm nature.
George Miah Gold Winner of the Shrewsbury Community Award – acknowledges the work of community groups and individuals who have contributed to the social well-being of the town.
Oswestry and Border Chronicle 6th August 2015 - Simla Restaurant happy to support good causes.
The Chronicle's "We Mean Business" campaign celebrates Oswestry s businesses. This week we celebrate the Simla Tandoori restaurant on Beatrice Street.
The Simla restaurant will be celebrating 40 years of business in Oswestry next year.
For owner George Miah being part of the community and helping good causes s an important part of his business.
The restaurant recently celebrated 39 years in business by hosting a charity dinner, raising more than £2,500.
Mr Miah has been hosting charity dinners since 1988.
He said: "My family and my partner Julie would like to thank everyone who supported us on the evening. on the night there was live music, raffles, auctions and a four course dinner to raise funds for the charity's. There were 84 people who attended".
This year the main beneficiaries were Hope House Children's Hospice and IQRA International, a Bangladeshi charity which provides treatment for disabled people who wouldn't be able to otherwise afford it. Each charity received £1,200 and Mr Miah said they were also able to give £100 to Once Upon A smile and £50 each towards the Nepal Earthquake Appeal and to feed hungry children in Sudan.
Oswestry Review Magazine - August 2015 - Simla Charity Night
A restaurant celebrated 38 years in business by hosting a charity dinner.
Held every year, the proceeds of the Simla Bangladeshi restaurant event in Oswestry are shared between charities, the beneficiaries this year being Hope House Hospice and the Kenyan Schools Project, both of which received £900 each.
Owner George Miah said: “My family and my partner Julie would like to thank everyone who supported us on the evening. All the charities we donate to are obviously deserving but one of the charities we helped this year, The Kenyan Schools Project, I feel especially close to, as a late friend of mine, David Lawson, raised a lot of money for the charity, so to build on the work he’s already done feels very rewarding.”
Shropshire Star Reviewer's rating *** Sue Austin returns to an old favourite with fond memories and is delighted it has not changed.
However much a pub or restaurant has a place in the tradition of a town it will not survive if it does not move with the times, writes Sue Austin.
The Simla Restaurant in Oswestry, has been part of the town's social scene for more than three decades and it would have been easy for it to become stuck in a comfortable rut.
But on a recent visit it was good to see that the eatery has managed to combine the best of the old and the new.
It was a favourite place of mine to eat as a teenager growing up in Oswestry.
And so I was delighted when son Joe chose it when asked where he wanted to go on his sixteenth birthday, some days after his official and somewhat manic party.
In this belt-tightening climate I wondered if the restaurant was going to be too quiet on Tuesday night.
But when we arrived there were diners at several tables, showing the strength of its reputation.
Despite not dining out much these days, Mel and I were greeted like friends by the Simla's owner, George Miah. He and his wife Julie brought Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine to Oswestry in the mid-seventies.
The couple stayed in the town to raise a family and become a much respected part of the community.
They were recently honoured for their charity work, holding fund-raising events in the restaurant and each year giving a class at their local primary school the chance to sample some of their culture, dressing in authentic dress and trying some of their food.
Joe and his friend Rob, both now turned sixteen, were chuffed to be able to order a beer or cider with their meal.
It was strange to see the lads having a drink while designated driver mum stuck to her boring jug of water with ice and lemon.
The obligatory popadoms were soon on the table with the usual arrays of pickles and chutneys and while we ate I noticed there were other families with teenagers enjoying a relaxed evening out.
The Simla, Oswestry
Knowing the portion sizes are generous at the Simla we had agreed to share two starters between the four of us and soon our mixed tandoori starters £4.25 arrived.
George neatly divided them at the table and then left us to share them out, a nice mix of chicken, lamb, king prawns and kebab.
It was interesting to see the lads choosing their main courses, both veterans of the restaurant thanks to birthday meals and cricket club dinners they already knew what they liked.
Joe plumped for chicken tikka masala (£8.95) including rice while Rob went for chicken sagwala (£6.95) and I sighed, knowing that my lifetime battle to get my "little boy" to eat any cooked vegetable had failed miserably.
Hubby as usual was still perplexed by the wide and varied menu. As a teenager I was ashamed when on our first date there he plumped for steak and chips.
But over the years he graduated to tandoori, then a mild korma and now enjoys most of what's on offer.
This time he went for a lamb balti (£8.95) with naan while I chose the hot and sour prawn pathia (£5.95).
When the main courses arrived I was delighted to find that, like the starters, the meals were presented on beautiful white china.
The stainless steel balti bowl has been something I have had to endure over the years in many an Indian restaurant but thankfully no longer at the Simla.
I was soon bartering with the three men to get spoonfuls of the different dishes on my plate and we attacked the tasty food trying each others nan and rice with gusto.
But even with the healthy appetites of the lads the dishes were just too much for us.
It was too nice to be wasted and when the waiter took my plate away they immediately agreed to let me have a doggy bag.
We certainly could not manage a sweet.
But embarrassing mum had brought a birthday cake and the staff arrived with cake and candle, gathering around to help with a rendition of Happy Birthday to Joe. Other diners joined in even offering to take a group photo.
It had been a really relaxing evening with good food and I left happy in the knowledge that the Simla has definitely found the recipe for success that has lasted more than 30 years.