THREE judges have been selected to preside over the Pride of Fiji Awards 2009.
Optometrist Shaheen Asgar, Adi Davila Toganivalu, who was part of the Hibiscus judging panel and former Hibiscus queen Lenora Qereqeretabua make up the panel.
The judges were chosen for their involvement with charitable organisations, touching the lives of many people across the country.
Adi Davila Toganivalu, 65, is a part-time consultant and retired pre-school teacher with a diploma and masters degree in education, specialising in early childhood education.
She is also a board member of Fiji Times Limited.
The mother-of-five says she was delighted to be a judge for the Pride of Fiji Awards because it was important to recognise the courage and goodwill of people in our community. She said she was looking forward to joining the panel that will acknowledge people who have achieved something for the community and themselves.
"It's a great and wonderful idea that we should recognise and inspire people for their courage and goodwill," she said.
Adi Davila started her career as one of Fiji's first pre-school teachers, working for the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA). She later coordinated the Pacific Pre-school Teachers Certificate Course at the University of the South Pacific.
She joined the United Nations Children's Fund as the regional educational officer and had the opportunity to travel to various regional island countries.
She now does consultancy work with the Education Ministry and Save the Children Fiji.
Another judge is optometrist Shaheen Asgar.
Mr Asgar is the president of the Suva North Rotary and is regularly involved in community work and people's issues.
He operates his Eyesite business on Suva's Victoria Parade and specialises in improving people's sight besides helping them look and feel good.
"I graduated in London, England, with a Bachelor in Science and Optometry. I initially started my clinic in England before I moved back to Fiji in 1990 and have been in business for the past nine years," he said.
Mr Asgar enjoys meeting new people. He strongly supports the fact that people with courage and commitment should be recognised.
"That's why I agreed to be a judge of the Pride of Fiji Awards," he said.
"I think it's a brilliant idea and we should give recognition to inspire those who have been out of the limelight, and continue working to help people."
Mr Asgar is the father of two boys and enjoys spending quality family time, kicking a football around with his boys at their Nasese home.
"I like to chat with my clients and get to know them better, also do my best to give them the best advice to maintain their health, especially their eyes," he said.
"There are some very extraordinary stories and people out there, and I think it's good that 'Pride of Fiji' will help inspire them."
Former Miss Hibiscus Lenora Qereqeretabua is the third of the judges.
Ms Qereqeretabua has past experience as a judge of the Tadra Kahani school music competition and the Hibiscus pageant.
The 41-year-old mother-of-one says women, particularly in Fiji, shy away from recognition and our society often views pride with scorn.
"I feel, however, that giving everyone in Fiji an opportunity to publicly recognise an unsung neighbour, friend or associate whose work and achievements they are genuinely proud of, is something we should all support.
"Our unsung heroes are really the backbone of our country and I'm privileged to be a judge," said Ms Qereqeretabua.
Her work with the Vodafone ATH Fiji Foundation puts her in touch with dozens of genuinely good people working for their communities with little funding.
Ms Qereqeretabua's interests outside her work include going to the movies with her 15-year-old daughter and spending quality family time.
She was an announcer with FM96 and Radio Fiji.