On 3 October 2021, ABPL Group organised ‘Seva Ratna Sanmman’ at the Dhamecha Lohana Centre, which was applauded by our audience and various communities. A unique gesture by us to recognise, honour and express our heartfelt gratitude to those who have served the community during the tough times of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We were thrilled with the participation of key dignitaries such as Lord Dolar Popat, H.E. Gaitri Issar Kumar (High Commissioner of India to the UK), Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Cllr Ghazanfar Ali (Harrow Mayor) and Shri Shantibhai Dhamecha (Dhamecha Group).
Ashok Kumar Chauhan MBE (Her Majesty’s Armed Forces), Sqn Ldr Amir Khan (RAF), WO Balbir Flora (RAF), Sgt Shiv Chand (RAF), Mayoress Mamona Ali, Dr Kartar Lalwani (Chairman, Vitabiotics Ltd), Mr. Tej Lalwani (Director, Vitabiotics Ltd), Mr Navin Shah (Chair, London Assembly 2020-21), Mrs Rekha Shah (Councillor, London Borough of Harrow), Dr R R Gandecha representing NHS, Mr Virendra Sharma MP, Mr Simon N. Ovens (DL FCMI), Mr. Rohit Vadhwana (Senior Diplomat, India House) and other dignitaries also graced the event.
The ceremony was well organised and managed by compere Shri Vinodbhai Thakrar who kicked off the event by welcoming all the guests present in the hall. The event commenced with prayers by Executive Director of Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Dr M N Nandakumara, followed with an expressive and graceful traditional dance performance by the students of Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan.
Lord Dolar Popat, Chairman of the Organising Committee was invited to share his views. He spoke about how the last 18 months was full of turmoil. For the British Indian community, it was harder, especially as we missed out on family gatherings, weddings, Diwali and Christmas celebrations, birthdays and even celebrating India’s Independence and Republic Day. The worst amongst all was, losing so many lives. We were not even able to meet our loved ones in their final days or mourn of the loss together with family. Our thoughts and prayers are with families and friends of those who lost near and dear ones to Covid-19.
Chief Guest H.E. Gaitri Issar Kumar, said she was delighted to attend this unique event, admiring the premises of Dhamecha Lohana Centre. She said, “When I was invited by CB to participate in this event, I was extremely happy. First as it was an opportunity to meet you all in person and second, as this event was all about recognising the efforts of the people who came out like stars in the nights, and brought out hope and cheer.”
She added, “The High Commission of India will always prioritise the heroes of the community in every possible way. I also thank the communities and people all over the UK as we have received lot of donations and we had to arrange a special team to make sure that the donations are properly channelised.”
She congratulated each one for their selfless dedication towards the community that has distinctively inspired the younger generations.
Lord Bhikhu Parekh, spoke about the lessons we have learnt from the pandemic. He said, “What is the one thing that only we have contributed to the society and others could not? Look at our history of independence. MBEs and Sirs were ignored but what mattered was the title given by people like Din Bandhu or Lok Manya. Your fellow citizens decide how to honour and whom to honour and that matters far more than the officials sitting in the White Hall. The Seva Ratna Sanmman are designed to celebrate the great contributions that individuals and organisations have made in the era of a pandemic.”
The Worshipful Mayor of Harrow, Cllr Ghazanfar Ali, thanked CB for hosting this special event He said, “In Harrow, we live very closely. We are always in touch with each other.” He recalled the work done by the Harrow community while there was a disastrous earthquake in Pakistan. In February and March 2020, governments across the world were confused as to how we would tackle this situation. The Indian and Pakistani communities of Harrow stood beside each other and helped by offering free meals, packed foods, medicine and many more things.
“My gratitude goes to all of you because it is not possible by a single person to do all these,” he added.
Speaking about the process and deliberation for the awards and presentations to follow, Shri Kanti Nagda, a well-known community worker said, “It was very difficult for our judges’ panel to read out the best individual and organization entries who have served not only our communities but the society at large. We had a huge number of nominations, which pleased us. But that made our job difficult in selecting the best one. Please don’t hold grudge against the selection panel as you all have contributed a fair share in serving the community in these testing times. Thanks to the panelists for performing the thankless task.”
In his vote of thanks, CB Patel, Publisher/Editor of Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar said he was grateful to all the guests for attending the event. He especially thanked H.E. Gaitri Issar Kumar for her august presence, the Dhamecha family, and the entire Lohana community for providing the wonderful premises. He added Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar will continue their best to serve the community and our readers in the best possible manner and organise many such unique programmes in the future.
We are grateful to Mr Dhruv Gadhvi and Mr Raj Bakrania for video and photography. A special thanks to Colours Gujarati for broadcasting the coverage of this event last Sunday in Dhruv Gadhvi’s weekly Gujarati show SHU CHALE CHHE!
Also, a big thanks to Shri Vinodbhai Thakrar for the arrangements, co-ordination and execution of this wonderful event. Last but not the least the volunteers and the team members of the LCNL and ABPL Group for their invaluable contribution behind the scenes.
The recording of this event will soon be available on YouTube.
The event ended with presentation of the awards. Out of all the nominations received, 11 were finalists and were awarded the Seva Ratna Sanmman.
Names of the awardees are as follows:-
1. Mr. Raj Singh (Skipping Sikh MBE)
2. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (Neasden)
3. Enfield Saheli
4. Laduma Foundation
5. Lohana Community North London
6. Mandhata Youth and Community Centre
7. Navnat Vanik Association
9. Shree Swaminarayan Temple, Willesden Lane
10. Shanta Foundation
11. Vallabh Youth Organisation
(Photo Courtesy- Raj D Bakrania, PR MEDIA PIX & Video Courtesy- Dhruv Gadhvi)