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Anita Choudhrie: On the path to charity success

A generous philanthropist who has spent most of her life raising cash for those in need is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of her charity, which has helped thousands of people in the UK and India.

Anita Choudhrie became involved in the giving sector after working with disabled children during her days at Delhi University.

Choudhrie, also the patron to three Indian charities, set up Path to Success, an umbrella organisation in 2006, taking on new causes each year. To date, it has raised an impressive £300,000 for good causes.

This year, Path to Success has been raising cash for London Titans Wheelchair Basketball club – the former training ground for two athletes heading to Rio in September to compete in the Paralympic Games.

In total, Choudhrie and her team have collected £42,000 for the Titans this year, helping them to purchase new custom wheelchairs, training equipment and book venues for training sessions.

Other stars who honed their skills at the venue include former Paralympian and TV personality Ade Adepitan OBE and ex-Paralympian Ann Wild MBE.

“We are delighted to have helped so many worthwhile causes over the last 10 years both here and abroad,” Choudhrie told Eastern Eye.

“We are raising funds for the charity at a gala dinner in September, which will allow us to continue this invaluable work into our second decade.”

Her journey into the charity world began in India in 2002 when she started working with children.

“I always found it a huge challenge but an amazing experience. When I came to the UK, I started looking around and investigating the issues where I could provide the most help.

“I wanted to support the most challenged groups in society. I realised there was a big issue around disability. I wanted to help people trying to make their inability an ability.”

Choudhrie said her proudest moment over the past decade was the charity’s flagship 60 for 60 campaign to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which was backed by Miriam Gonzalez Durantez – the wife of former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

Its goal was to provide 60 wheelchairs for 60 NHS hospitals across the UK, but they ended up raising in excess of £120,000, enabling the charity to donate 83 wheelchairs.

Tom, an 11-year-old with cerebral palsy, was provided with a lightweight wheelchair to travel long distances. This gave him the opportunity to join his school wheelchair basketball team and play sport for the first time.

“Our 60 for 60 campaign to commemorate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 2012 was special. Originally we planned to buy 60 wheelchairs for 60 hospitals, but we kept on going, raising more money, and ended up buying 83,” said Choudhrie.

“It was a cause that was not fashionable; people were not aware of it. We collected a lot of data and did a lot of research. We worked across the whole of England, from north to south. That was the most emotionally rewarding project I’ve ever been involved in. When you see the impact your fundraising has on people’s lives, it’s amazing.”

The passionate fundraiser is also a patron to the Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust, which helps disabled children in India, Trust of Learning Matters Indian and the Dhuk Bhanjani Trust.

Through Amar Jyoti, which also provides sporting activities and cultural enrichment to over 750 youngsters, Path to Success has collected £65,000.

It has given children like Akshant, a boy with cerebral palsy and a speech defect who was unable to communicate at all, the opportunity to excel. His time at Amar Jyoti gave him confidence, independence and improved his hand-eye coordination. This led him to becoming the proud recipient of a student award for artificial jewellery-making.

Choudhrie said: “Abroad, my favourite charity is the Amar Joyti Charitable Trust in India, which works with disabled and able-bodied children. It not only educates them but changes their lives through culture, the arts and sport.

“It’s one of the most inspiring organisations I have ever seen. The head is so dedicated and does amazing work for the disabled and children from challenging backgrounds. Whenever we can help, we do.”

For Choudhrie, it is her philanthropy work that gives her the chance to give something back to society. Her husband Sudhir is a successful businessman and has appeared in Eastern Eye’s annual Asian Rich List, which ranks the 101 highest earning Asians in the UK.

Choudhrie said she admired Mother Theresa and is inspired by her achievements.

The grandmother and mother-of-two (sons Bhanu and Dhairya), who lives in London, is also a patron to the arts and has received a number of awards for her philanthropy.

In July 2010, Commons speaker John Bercow presented her with The Globe Award in recognition of her outstanding charitable work. She was awarded The Global Champion Award for charitable work a year later by Silver Star.

After establishing Path to Success, Choudhrie also went on to launch Stellar International Art Foundation in 2008, which promotes artists through international exhibitions, loans, publications and events.

Choudhrie will be announcing the next good cause that will be supported by Path to Success in 2017. The umbrella organisation has also helped to build a residential unit for St Wilfrid’s Centre which helps homeless and vulnerable people in Sheffield and re-integrates them into society.

In addition, it has made a number of other donations, including £25,000 towards I Can – a charity for children with communication issues and Crisis – as well as the Evening Standard-dispossessed fund.

“We have always championed the disabled and we will continue to do that,” she said. “We will continue supporting good causes according to our four core principles: helping educate those who can’t take education for granted; helping people overcome their disabilities; supporting organisations which help people with long-term health problems but limited financial resources; and providing overseas aid in the event of natural disasters. We will follow our philosophy which is to help individuals overcome their difficulties.”

The anniversary dinner will take place at Grosvenor House in London’s Park Lane on September 30. Tickets for a table of 10 costs £5,000 and can be bought from the charity’s director Nasim Malhotra, who can also advise on sponsorship opportunities. Contact [email protected] for more details.