The Queen has recognised dozens of Asians in this year’s honours list for their leading contribution to entrepreneurship, community cohesion, medicine and trade.
The New Year’s Honours List, released last Thursday (31), comprises 1,044 people – 37 of which were from a South Asian background.
Alongside Harpal Kumar, CEO of Cancer Research UK, who received a knighthood, businessman Dr Rami Ranger, who runs the Sun Mark firm, and Zameer Choudrey, chief executive at the Bestway Group, were both awarded CBEs.
Ranger, who started life as a child in a refugee camp in India, is currently worth £175 million, according to the Asian Rich List 2015. The self made millionaire, recognised for his services to business and community, came to the country in the 1970s at the age of 23.
He set up his own freight forwarding company in 1987 with just £2, a typewriter, a car and a self-storage unit. He then diversified into exporting major food brands like Cadbury, Nestlé and Unilever before launching his own brand in 1995.
Ranger, who donated a quarter of million pounds to a London university in a bid to create the next generation of entrepreneurs in 2014, also runs the British Sikh Association, which encourages and promotes interfaith activities.
“It is important to build bridges between people of different faiths now living side by side in Britain,” he told Eastern Eye.
“Awards such as these serve to inspire people to work harder and encourages us to do more. The Indian community is very well respected and this honour is in recognition of all their hard work over the years.”
Choudrey, appointed to the role of chief executive for Bestway Group in 2004, is worth £415m by the Asian Rich List and heads one of Britain’s biggest private companies with a turn-over in excess of £3 billion.
The Bestway Group, which donates 2.5 per cent of profits to charity each year, is the second biggest food and drink wholesaler in the country.
Choudrey, who is highly regarded in the industry, was presented with the Asian Trader Editors Award in 2014.
He was recognised by the Queen for his contributions to the wholesale industry and the philanthropic work he engages in both in the UK and abroad.
Choudrey said: “These honours represent everything that makes Britain great; reinforcing how it doesn’t matter where you have come from, what matters is your work ethic and the impact you can make.
“It shows what matters is that you contribute and you help to make Britain even better, something many immigrants do on a daily basis across the nation.”
The honours list maintained a gender balance with around 578 successful women candidates recognised by the Queen.
Yasmin Sheikh, co-founder of British Community Honours Awards, received a CBE for services to women and social integration.
Her event, which highlights the success of British Muslims receiving awards from the Queen, was started to promote “integration and social cohesion.”
“It is great to see the work I have been passionately involved with has been recognised. This not only raises my profile but the charity’s and of women in society,” she told Eastern Eye.
Leicester-based entrepreneur Kala Patel won an OBE for her services to childcare. Her company Kiddycare Nurseries was launched after she was prevented from returning to work by the lack of childcare. It was started with just a bank loan and enterprise allowance of £65 a week.
“When I came to this country at a young age, I had no plans for the future, but I have been able, I hope, to make a real difference to the lives of others, particularly families with young children,” she said.
Jaz Rabadia, from north-west London, was honoured for her services to sustainability and diversity in the STEM sector (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with an MBE.
The Starbucks energy manager volunteers to encourage more females and ethnic minorities to take up a career within the STEM sector.
Sajid Rashid, 26, of Burton-on-Trent, received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his charitable work and services to the community.
The aero engineer, employed by Rolls-Royce in Derby, said he felt “honoured” to be recognised at such a young age.