Labour MP for Ealing-Southall Virendra Sharma and hotelier Surinder Arora are the two latest recipients of the Pride of Punjab award, which recognises individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the Punjabi diaspora in Britain.
The awards were presented at the Punjabi Society of the British Isles (PSBI) annual dinner on April 20 by secretary of state for communities and local government Sajid Javid, the principal guest.
Sharma said he was touched by the honour from his own community and expressed his pride in the Punjabi values of generosity and caring.
Arora credited his late mother for his success and told guests that he “could not have imagined” that one day he would be the owner of the Renaissance Hotel at Heathrow, where he once worked as a waiter.
The event also signalled a change for PSBI, as outgoing president Dr Rami Ranger handed the reins to Atul Pathak, who Dr Ranger referred to as a “successful entrepreneur” and a “passionate servant of the community and country”, adding that he was confident in Pathak’s ability to take the organisation “to the next level”.
Pathak paid homage to the Punjabi diaspora, which he said are “some of the most respected and integral members of British society” today, having added “vibrancy” to Britain. He praised the community for its successful integration into British society, adding that it had become a permanent “part of its fabric”.
In his keynote speech, Javid described the “togetherness, caring and welcoming nature” he has experienced from the global Punjabi community during his travels as a government minister, lauding the “Punjabi spirit of helping not only one another but also communities at large”.