A man who built the first ever Hindu Community Centre in Milton Keynes bringing together the wider community to celebrate the art and cultural heritage of India, has been awarded a BEM in the New Year Honours List.
Vinodkumar Mashri Jeram Pankhania, 61, of Milton Keynes, has received the award for services to the community in Milton Keynes.
From his arrival in the UK back in the 1990s, he immediately immersed himself in the new town, contributing to its cultural and charitable life with a vision to harmonise and strengthen the growing Hindu population.
His hugely successful fundraising campaign meant that the centre, in Broughton, opened on time and on budget.
At the grand opening, he reached out to civic guests, local councillors, interfaith representatives and the wider community to welcome them all and invite them to use the facility for all kinds of events.
Thames Valley Police host meetings and the NHS hold Medical Camps, not to forget the endless stream of residents who drop into the centre for refreshments on a social level.
During Covid, he used the platform of social media to conduct online Prayer sessions and the equally important tradition of Bhajan singing to lift the weary spirits of the members, reaching over 10,000 views.
He devised a Community Outreach Programme to provide meals, collect prescriptions and deliver essential shopping to those in need.
During three months alone, 4,000 meals were sent to recipients at Milton Keynes University Hospital, care homes, pharmacies and an overstretched independent family funeral business.
Meals are still being provided to older people in sheltered housing and a team of 100 volunteers continue to call upon other vulnerable members in the area.
As a consequence of the increased number of deaths due to Covid, he established a Bereavement group to offer much needed support to relatives and pertinent advice to funeral directors.