Sigma Pharmaceuticals founder and CEO Bharat Shah has been appointed a CBE in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Mr Shah, who founded leading pharmacy wholesaler Sigma Pharmaceuticals from the back of his chemist shop in Watford in 1982, received the award for ‘services to business, economic growth, exporting, independent pharmacy sector and philanthropy.’
“I am truly humbled by this honour and have been left completely speechless,” Mr Shah told Eastern Eye.
“This has just come out of the blue and has really taken me aback. I feel hugely honoured to be in the company of such incredible men and women who have accomplished such great things for our country. It’s so humbling and has made me feel very emotional,” he said.
The honour crowns a long and a distinguished career in the pharmacy profession for Mr Shah. A highly respected entrepreneur, he has been a passionate advocate for community pharmacy, helping the sector raise standards and campaigning for the profession to become an integral part of the enlarged NHS.
Over the last decade Sigma Pharmaceuticals has hosted an annual overseas conference bringing together community pharmacists, manufacturers and pharmacy officials to debate and share key insights from the pharma industry. The conference is now one of the major events in the pharmacy calendar regularly attended by over 350 delegates.
Bharat Shah came to the UK from Kenya in the early 1970s. After graduating with a first class degree in pharmacy from the University of Bath, he opened his first pharmacy in 1975.
He ventured into wholesaling a few years later and today Sigma is the largest independent shortline wholesaler in the country with a turnover in excess of £250m. The company now operates from a state-of-the-art fully automated facility in Watford employing over 400 people and supplying 3,000 pharmacies nationally.
The business is run by Bharat, his brothers Manish and Kamal and their children Hatul, Rajiv, Bhavin and Paras who have now embarked on an ambitious growth strategy.
Mr Shah dedicated his award to his wife, family and staff, adding; ‘to recognised for my work in this manner is a real testament to the commitment and dedication of my wife, my family and our staff, without whom this achievement would not be possible.’
A distinguished fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, Mr Shah and his family are generous benefactors to many charities in the UK and abroad.
Among the other prominent members of the BAME community recognised for their achievements are Operation Black Vote (OBV) founder Sir Simon Woolley, who received a knighthood.
Sir Woolley, who was awarded the GG2 Pride of Britain Award in 2013, is one of the country’s leading civil rights campaigners. Having founding OBV over 20 years ago, he chairs the government’s race disparity audit advisory group to increase black representation in politics and to increase the participation of black communities in the political process.
Speaking to Eastern Eye, Sir Woolley said: “I am truly honoured and humbled. For the past 24 years I’ve had the best job in the world. I wake up in the morning racing with ideas about how I can change our world, challenge racism, transform institutions, inspire working class young men and women to be the best they can be.
“In the past two years it has been a privilege to work with the prime minister Theresa May on building a strong platform to tackle persistent race inequality. The Race Disparity Unity, and its Advisory group that I chair has begun to construct the building blocks that will in time deliver dramatic change in racial disparities, not just for BAME groups, but also the white working class too.
“I hope that with this honour working class boys and girls, black, and white, will be inspired to follow their dreams. I also hope that this will help me deliver greater equality sooner rather than later.
“Finally, I accept this honour on behalf of the most brilliant team at Operation Black Vote and the support I’ve had from BAME communities.”
Councillor Reena Ranger received an OBE for services to BAME women. Ranger is chairman and co-founder of Women Empowered, social initiative run by volunteers that aims to inspire and help women (and men) make the best of their individual talents and skills by connecting with successful and inspirational individuals.
The organisation aim’s to create a powerful yet exciting network open to all though its events, charitable work, blog and debate group. The group is championed and supported by prominent women and men from all walks of life, from politics to media, from finance to music.
Ranger was successfully elected as one of the three District Councillors for Moor Park & Eastbury in May 2014. She previously ran as a County Council Candidate 2013 and is on the Conservative Parliamentary Candidates list
“I cannot express the surprise, honour and privilege I feel to be a recipient of this prestigious honour,” Ranger told Eastern Eye. “It is something my younger self could never have dreamed of, my older self will treasure and my present self is humbled and delighted by.
“My aim of trying to connect people and inspire, has been an incredibly inspirational journey for me and brought a new worldly view, untold pride and a sense of accomplishment that I will be eternally grateful for.
“Women Empowered (WE) started with an idea and has flourished into something that I could not have imagined. What started off as a short-term project is now six years old with core volunteers running it. We have held over 20 events for over 2500 people with exceptional speakers.
“Our online blog with hundreds of contributors and thousands of reads has touched many, featuring gritty topics that sometimes don’t get spoken about and helping people to connect online with many others. Our charitable arm, which asks mostly for the donation of time, has over 500 people who have volunteered over three years, helping 6000 people.
“I hope WE has positively touched the lives of many and I am grateful to have to have been able to contribute in that. I thank all those who have been a part of WE and share this honour with them all.”
In total 1,073 people have received an award:
of the recipients are people who have undertaken outstanding work in their communities either in a voluntary or paid capacity;
women are recognised in the List, representing 47%
of the total;
of the successful candidates come from a BAME background;
of the successful candidates consider themselves to have a disability (under the Equality Act 2010);and 2.8%
of recipients identified as being LGBT.
British Asians recognised the Queen’s Brithday Honours List:
Medallist of the Order of the British Empire
Santosh Diwarkanath KUNDI
For services to Education and charity in the UK and Abroad.
Subramaniam Chettiar KUGASENAN CHETTIAR (RAJ CHETTIAR)
For services to the Tamil community in West London.
For services to Asian Media and the South Asian community in the UK.
Dr Sivaramkrishnan DEVARAJ
Volunteer. For services to Health Charity Fundraising and General Practice
Dr Naeem AHMED
Consultant Radiologist, Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust and Founder, Selfless. For services to volunteering and Healthcare.
For services to Health, Fitness and Sports for Women in Birmingham.
Members of the Order of the British Empire
Ghulam Mohammed VOHRA
Vice Chairman, Coventry Muslim Forum. For services to Community Cohesion.
Narendra Kantilal SOLANKI
Chair, Multi Academy Trust, St Simon and St Judes Primary School, Bolton. For services to Education.
Aghia Pal SINGH
Infrastructure Engineer, West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service. For services to charity and the community in the West Midlands.
Cary Rajinder SAWHNEY
For services to Film.
Sarabjit Kaur SAHOTA
For services to Education.
For services to the community in North West England.
Chief Executive Officer, Patchwork Foundation. For services to Young People.
Dr Rajesh PATEL
Deputy National Medical Director for Primary Care, NHS England. For services to Healthcare.
For services to Radio Broadcasting.
For services to Broadcasting in Scotland.
Dr Syed Muhammed Habib NAQVI
Policy Lead, Workforce Race Equality Standard, NHS England. For services to Equality and Diversity in the NHS.
Syed Muhammad Iqbal NASIM
For services to Community Development and to Tackling Poverty.
Mahendra Kumar LIMBU
Welfare Officer, Brigade of Gurkhas. For services to Gurkha Personnel and their Families.
Adoption Team Manager, Penny Appeal. For services to Children and Families.
Skinder Singh HUNDAL
Chief Executive Officer, The New Art Exchange. For services to Visual Arts.
Jaspaul Kaur HILL
Headteacher, Mayfield Primary School. For services to Education.
Dr Mohammad FARSI
Founder, CANopen Protocol. For services to the Automotive Industry, Education and Cultural Engagement.
Dr Sengottiyan CHANDRASEKARAN (DR CHANDRA)
Medical Lead, General Adult Critical Care. For services to the community in Manchester.
Dr Navnit Singh CHANA
Lately Chairman, National Association of Primary Care and General Practitioner, Cricket Green Medical Practice. For services to Clinical Education and Primary and Community Care
Dr Gulbash Singh CHANDOK
Senior Partner, Guru Nanak Medical Centre. For services to General Practice.
Specialist Nurse, NHS Blood and Transplant and Community Volunteer. For services to the NHS.
Dr Ashok Kumar BHUVANAGIRI
Founder, The Telugu Association of Scotland.
For services to Cultural Cohesion and charity.
Founder, Positive Youth Foundation. For services to Young People in the Midlands.
Amrik Singh BASI
Amateur Boxing Referee. For services to Boxing.
For services to Music.
Officers of the Order of the British Empire
Rubeela Naveed QAYYUM
Treasury Accountant and Head of Exchequer Funds and Accounts, HM Treasury. For services to Taxpayers, Young People and Social Inclusion.
Reena RANGER (REENA AHUJA)
Founder and Chair, Women Empowered. For services to BAME Women.
Manmeet Singh PANESAR
Head of Technical Services, Office for Product Safety and Standards, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. For services to Product Safety.
Professor Shantashil Rajyeswar (Rana) MITTER
Professor, History and Politics of Modern China, University of Oxford. For services to Education.
Narinder Kaur, KOONER
Councillor, Birmingham City Council and Director, Sikh Women’s Action Network. For services to Supporting Vulnerable People and to the community in the West Midlands.
Professor Sudhesh KUMAR
Dean, Warwick Medical School. For services to Medicine and to Diabetes Care.
Arun KUMAR BATRA
Chief Executive Officer, National Equality Standard. For services to Faith and Integration
in the Public Sector.
Chair, Arhag Housing Association. For services to Migrants and Refugees.
For services to Tackling Female Genital Mutilation and Gender Inequality.
Dominic Newton HASLAM
Director, Sightsavers. For services to People with Disabilities.
Chief Executive Officer, Prince Albert Community Trust. For services to Education.
Chief Executive Officer, Community Links. For services to the community and Housing for
Dr Delna GHANDHI
Lately Health Adviser, Department for International Development. For services to Tackling Tropical Disease.
For services to Small and Medium-sized Businesses, Diversity and Equality.
Amarjit Kaur CHEEMA
Chief Executive Officer, Perry Hall Multi-Academy Trust. For services to Education in the West Midlands.
Harjit Singh BHANIA
Wheelchair Basketball Coach. For services to Wheelchair Basketball.
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire
Dr Bharat Kumar Hansraj SHAH
For services to Business, Economic Growth, Exporting, Independent Pharmacy Sector and Philanthropy.
Professor Harminder Singh DUA
Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Nottingham. For services to Eye Healthcare, Health Education and Ophthalmology.