Camden teenager: ‘I fled to UK in back of lorry from persecution in Afghanistan’

PUBLISHED: 16:00 20 February 2015

Ezat Gulzaman, 19. Picture: Polly Hancock

Ezat Gulzaman, 19. Picture: Polly Hancock


A student who fled persecution in war-torn Afghanistan to study in Camden is one of a handful of exceptional young people who have been honoured for outstanding achievements.

Ezat Gulzaman, 19, of Chalk Farm, was presented with a Camden Youth Award at a ceremony recognising Camden’s most extraordinary youngsters at the council’s Camden Centre in King’s Cross on Wednesday.

Aged just 16, he had to flee his home country Afghanistan after suffering physical violence, and undertook a gruelling six-month journey to the UK hidden in the back of a lorry.

When he first arrived in 2012, he spoke no English and suffered serious emotional problems following an arduous struggle to find somewhere to live.

But the plucky youngster has gone on to achieve qualifications in English as a foreign language and business at Westminster Kingsway College in King’s Cross.

Ezat said: “When I first came to England, I didn’t speak English but I wanted to learn and I found the college.

“The teachers here have supported me and explained things to me that I didn’t understand.”

Chris Luard, Ezat’s personal connexions advisor at the college, said: “Ezat has shown huge strength of character in overcoming considerable adversity.”

The awards are an annual celebration of Camden’s young people and those who work in the borough to support them.

Hundreds were handed awards including Duke of Edinburgh Awards (DofE) and Sport Leaders qualifications among other personal development certificates.

Ezat was among eight youngsters honoured with individual trophies for categories including personal journey, positive role model, and young entrepreneur.

Entries for the awards were judged by a panel of young people.

Ellie Thompson, 15, was handed the young carer award after working tirelessly for a year to support her mother during her recovery from breast cancer - all while studying for her GCSEs at Parliament Hill School in Highgate Road.

From housework to emotional support, Ellie was praised for standing at her mum’s side without ever shying from her studies.

The teen, of Camden Town, could not make it to Wednesday’s ceremony because she was on holiday in Ireland but heard the award being presented by listening in on a mobile phone.

Her mum Jayne Thompson, who stood proudly in Ellie’s place at the ceremony, said: “It’s amazing. The whole of Ireland just heard it!”

Other award-winners included Francesca Cutri, an autistic student who has become an ambassador for her college, Wac Arts in Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park.

The 21-year-old arrived at the college as a part-time student taking part in a web-based project but as her confidence grew, she went on to become a full-time pupil and volunteer with young people who have disabilities.

Camden’s 16-year-old deputy youth MP Sarah Ryan, who spoke at the awards, said: “It is really important for us to focus on the positives that young people bring.

“This is an amazing event and there should be more like it.”

Latest Hampstead Education News

Highgate Newtown’s historic Konstam Nursery has unveiled a commerorative mosoaic celebrating its links to the First World War.

It was a double celebration at Highgate School on Saturday as crowds were treated to two fireworks displays.

Haringey parents will continue to fight for “fairer funding” for schools following the chancellor’s autumn budget.

Camden’s youngsters were in the spotlight at the Shaw Theatre for an evening celebrating the borough’s talent.

Three years after a controversial merger saw Torriano Primary School formed, teachers and governors are celebrating a top-of-the-class Ofsted rating that Camden Council’s education chief said “vindicated” the decision to amalgamate the schools.

A Hampstead school has scrapped a pilot project that saw commercial helicopters landing on its playing fields after neighbours complained it was causing “quite a riot”.

Neighbours are in a spin over UCS Hampstead’s unusual decision to allow a commercial helicopter firm to use its playing fields as a landing pad.

The former headteacher of St Aloysius College has been cleared of wrongdoing nine months after he was arrested as part of a £70,000 fraud investigation at the school.

Primrose Hill schoolchildren are desperate for help uncovering the secrets of their local war memorial.

A Muswell Hill mum has shared her anger at parents temporarily moving into the area to jump the queue for school places, as Haringey Council says it is investigating four cases of school application fraud.

The Heath and Hampstead Society has opposed plans to move a free school into the old Hampstead Police Station – even though the applicants have halved the number of pupils they hope to attract.

A budding journalist and a mentoring champion are two of the students being recognised for their high-flying achievements by the Jack Petchey Foundation.

A pair of Greig City Academy students are among a talented crop of Haringey high-achievers vying for an annual award from the Jack Petchey Foundation.

Seven months to the day after a single winter night saw two young men stabbed to death, Camden’s youth safety task force – led by Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer and Cllr Abdul Hai – last night recommended a series of measures to arrest the alarming upwards trend in youth violence in the borough.

Westminster North MP Karen Buck joined parents and children to protest the sudden closure of Queen’s Park Nursery.

Staff, parents and children at Chaston Nursery in Chalk Farm celebrated as 10 children graduate and move on to primary school.

There were broad smiles and hearty congratulations all round as the Channing pupils received their GCSE results.

Hornsey School for Girls students have excelled once again, despite reforms to GCSE exams this year.

The “resilience and determination” of Parliament Hill School GCSE students has been praised.

North Bridge House Senior Hampstead students have bagged the ‘best GCSE results in the school’s history’, with an impressive 55per cent of all grades at Grade 7 or above.

There were happy faces at Highgate Wood School as students collected their GCSE results.

Students across Camden achieved a strong set of results in the new-style GCSEs, according to the council.

There were some happy faces at Greig City Academy today as 17 students, approximately 10per cent of the year group, achieved a new top Grade 9 GCSE in one or more of their subjects.

Rising to the challenge of tougher new GCSEs, South Hampstead pupils and staff were celebrating another year of “exceptional results” across the board this morning – and the school’s second best ever percentage of top grades (A*/9/8s).

Heartlands High School’s head of school said she is “delighted” with their set of GCSE results.

The phenomenal achievements of Fortismere School students have been championed on GCSE results day.

A 16-year-old Highgate School student who was diagnosed with Leukaemia in April has bagged straight A*s in his GCSE results this morning.

One Henrietta Barnett student nearly 6000 miles to get her GCSE results this morning, and was rewarded with 10 grade 9s.

A set of twins were among the girls celebrating their GCSE results at Henrietta Barnett, as they got the top grades in the majority of their exams.

Didn’t get the exam results you were lookinng in your GCSE results today, or A-levels last week, but want to be a sports journalist? Then don’t despair, Arsenal reporter Layth Yousif says it’s not the end of the world, just look at the example of his intern Toby Miles.

The headteacher of University College School Hampstead has championed his students’ achievements in the creative arts on a record-breaking GCSE results day.

The headteacher of Highgate School has lauded his students’ ability to cope with ‘tougher, fatter GCSEs’ on a record-breaking results day.

No coursework, two years of study, a clutch of Bs and a handful of threes - it’s a tricky time to be a GCSE student.

Paddington Academy students are celebrating achieving the best A-level results in the school’s 11-year history.

Hornsey Sixth Form College A-level results were ‘significantly above national average’, according to the headteacher of the Crouch End school.

The principal of Westminster Kingsway College has champions the achievements of students in their A-level results.

UCL Academy students who received their A-level results yesterday are ‘equipped to be global citizens’, according to the school’s co-principal.

A-level results day at Greig City Academy revealed an array of talent, with Oxbridge bound students in a variety of disciplines.

The headteacher of Channing School has championed the ability of her students to combat tougher exams on A-level results day.

A-level results day started early at Highgate School - some students opened their envelopes at 6AM - as yet another year group smashed records to achieve the best results in the school’s history.

A record-breaking year at Fortismere School has seen students confirm places at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge on A-level results day.

A “fabulous range” of A-level results at LaSWAP Sixth Form Centre has seen students meet offers from universities as diverse as Falmouth and SOAS.

UCS Hampstead bursary students have been singled out for praise on the day the school received its second best A-level results ever.

The headteacher of Henrietta Barnett School has championed her ‘inspirational’ sixth formers on A-level results day.

Westminster Academy has achieved a host of top scores in its International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).

Most Read