A man who stood outside a mosque in Manchester in a sign of solidarity was honoured at Fusion.

The Fusion Awards were held on Saturday July 6 at King George’s Hall, Blackburn attracting volunteers, charity workers and sporting talent from across the North West.

In a touching moment on the night finalists and guests stood up to applaud the Community Cohesion Award winner, Andrew Graystone. 

Asian Image:

Asian Image:

Andrew who gave an impassioned speech as he accepted the award retelling the day when he woke up and decided to stand outside a mosque following the New Zealand Terror attacks.

He held a cardboard sign with a handwritten message: “You are my friends. I will keep watch while you pray.”

The Mancunian’s message of solidarity after the Christchurch massacre went viral.

Andrew said the overwhelming response shows “the power of choosing friendship over fear’ and was determined to ensure people attending the local mosque felt safe.

After the prayers had concluded, hundreds came out to thank Andrew who was unaware the imam had commended his actions.

Within 24 hours, Andrew had received over 100,000 messages of support.

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The award was supported by Blackburn with Darwen Council and Our Communities and Our Future. Pictured with Andrew is Clr Mohammed Khan

Speaking on stage he said, “On the 15th March I woke up to the news of the awful attacks New Zealand. My first thought was I wonder how Muslims in my home city and in Levenshulme would be waking up and hearing that news and going to Jummah.

“So, I decided I would meet people at the Medina Mosque. I thought I would look a bit silly so I grabbed a piece of cardboard and wrote on it.”

On receiving messages of support he added, “What people said ‘yes’ to was not me but it was the idea that friendship is better than fear.”

A Statement from Blackburn with Darwen Council read, “We’re pleased to support the Fusion Awards once again. 

“There’s lots to celebrate in terms of social integration across our borough; we are blessed with many organisations who work hard to bring people from different backgrounds together, breaking down barriers and collaborating on projects that make Blackburn with Darwen a better place. 

“The Our Community, Our Future programme is building on this strong foundation to do more to bring our diverse communities together. 

"Working closely with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, we aim to create more opportunities for people to mix socially, at work and in school – and the work of community groups and community-spirited individuals is invaluable to us"