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1960: Veena Soni

I came to the Newcastle in 1960 with my mother and sister as my father had emigrated and settled here earlier. It took us 3 weeks travelling by ship and train to reach Newcastle. This was an amazing journey, especially as none of us spoke a word of English.

We arrived in the UK in January so my first memory of Newcastle is of a cold country where it was always dark and people seemed to always to be in a hurry. All my education was in Newcastle and in 1977 I qualified as a teacher as I wanted to help disadvantaged young people and those who spoke no or little English.

In 1977 I got married to Krishan and we have 3 wonderful children and 2 grandchildren.

Since leaving university I have been heavily involved in voluntary work in the community to increase cultural understanding, peace and unity between communities. This has led to the setting up of the Hindu Cultural Trust which works with people of all ages. In 2013 I was honoured to become a Deputy Lieutenant for Tyne and Wear and in 2015 I was awarded a BEM for services to the community.

I love Newcastle and feel very lucky to be part of the North-East community.

1960: Veena Soni