Deepak Parekh reflects on why he feels the secret to living is giving

Deepak Parekh reflects on why he feels the secret to living is giving

Reena Ranger, Chair of Women Empowered, is In Conversation with Deepak Parekh as part of her regular series for ‘iGlobal’ to explore some inspirational facets from the life and achievements of prominent Global Indians.

Deepak is a UK-based Senior Director at Shawbrook Bank Ltd where he leads their leveraged finance offering in the Midlands supporting sponsor led buy-outs. He has significant M&A experience covering both the advisory and banking market across a variety of sectors. With the help of his friends and family, he runs a charity which he founded two years ago called the Diwali Foundation, which runs an annual Diwali Basket Brigade (DBB) event.

What was the inspiration behind Diwali Basket Brigade?

Having followed the work of a well-known life coach named Tony Robbins for many years, I was inspired to volunteer at an event which he established several years ago, called the Christmas Basket Brigade, delivering food hampers to families in need, on the eve of Christmas. Following attendance to my first such event in December 2015, I strongly felt that it would be just as beneficial to organise a similar event to celebrate the auspicious festival of Diwali and help to spread the message of hope and giving to families living in food poverty.

Unfortunately, in 2017 I had a serious back injury and was confined to lying on my back for days on end (eight months in total!), which gave me a lot of time to reflect on my life, my purpose and my goals. It was not until I was forced to take time out of my daily routine and career that I decided to put my idea into action through organising the first Diwali Basket Brigade event, which took place on October 14, 2018.

The event has grown from strength to strength, and our ambition is to deliver as many food hampers as we possibly can to families of all faiths and backgrounds across the UK. In 2020, the initiative expanded significantly and we provided 2,000 hampers, a major increase on the 525 hampers provided last year. This year, for the first time, the hampers also reached families in London and Manchester as well as in Birmingham, where the initiative first began.

What is the one lesson or words of wisdom that you try to live your life by, which you would recommend to the next generation?

As humans we can never be perfect and all of us will always have lots to learn – life is one big lesson. Indeed, I am continuously seeking ways to be a better version of myself in every way possible. That said, one thing I would recommend to the next generation is to surround yourself with friends and family who will encourage you to grow as an individual and inspire you be the best version of yourself!

With this in mind, I would also strongly recommend having a mentor (or mentors!) to help you navigate challenges which life will undoubtedly throw at you and act as your ‘sounding board’ – your mentor(s) may change over time but don’t be afraid to seek them out – it’s amazing how rewarding they will find the role themselves!

What has been the lesson you have learned during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown?

That the simple things in life can often be the most rewarding and valuable – I’ve really appreciated spending an extended period of quality time with my loved ones at home and being forced to slow down. I’ve also been so humbled by witnessing the many amazing acts of kindness offered by so many groups and individuals across not just the local community but across the world – the spirit of giving and helping those in need is something which we can all offer. It’s true when they say, “the secret to living is giving”. We all have something to offer to others in times of crisis – even if it’s just a listening ear.

If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and where/what would be on the menu?

Trevor McDonald, Richard Branson, Barack Obama and Anthony Robbins. We would eat an Indian meal ideally cooked by my wife at home (as in my humble opinion she is the best chef!), washed down with a bottle (or 2) of Chateauneuf du Pape.

Reena Ranger is the Chair and Co-Founder of Women Empowered. In this exclusive “In Conversation” series for ‘iGlobal’, the dynamic entrepreneur-philanthropist will be catching up with high-achieving Global Indians across different fields to spotlight some insightful life lessons.

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