Shushma Patel, a long-standing volunteer of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (Neasden Temple) in London, has been conferred the Coronation Champions Award for her outstanding contributions to the community.
“In honour of Their Majesties’ service to the country, Royal Voluntary Service launched the Coronation Champions Awards for volunteers. Together with Her Majesty the Queen Consort, the awards celebrate extraordinary volunteers across the country who have contributed to their communities,” reads the official citation.
As many as 500 volunteers from all over the UK supporting various causes have been hand-picked by a judging panel presided over by the Queen Consort and crowned Coronation Champions.
Sushma Patel has inherited the Hindu philosophy of sewa and community service from her parents. Her parents migrated to the UK in 1972 when Patel was only 11 years old, and she has been a member of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha ever since.
Upon receiving the Coronation Award, Patel expressed her gratitude: “I must convey my gratitude to our Guru, Shri Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Shri Mahant Swami Maharaj, for teaching me the right way to live and to give back to society. I live with our Gurus’ motto – ‘In the joy of others lies our own.’”
Over the years, Patel has played a pivotal role in organising and leading numerous initiatives, including charity drives, cultural events, and educational programs. Her dedication to promoting Hindu values, fostering community harmony, and serving those in need has been widely recognised and appreciated by the local community and beyond.
“I received the award on two things. First of all, the long-standing sewa that I’ve done. For years I’ve been the coordinator for 23 to 40 years old at the Sanstha. But really, I wouldn’t highlight this, as everybody in the mandir does sewa.
“During the pandemic, our PSM Pharmacy (named after Pramukh Swami Maharaj), stayed open when all the shops and everything were on lockdown. We provided the essential care for the elderlies in the community, of course, with social distancing in place; they had no one else to take care of but us,” Patel shared.
Her impactful work has not only enriched the lives of those she has served, but it has also been instrumental in building a more inclusive and harmonious society. She co-owns the PSM Pharmacy at Ewell Road, London.
“Receiving this award has energised me and my team at the PSM Pharmacy to do more for our community. The award signifies that our hard work means something and got recognised.
“My son went to Poland to aid the Ukraine refugees. As a parent, I also feel happy that I could instil the teachings of our Guru in my children. And now, with this award, I feel grateful to the Pujya Mata, who taught me a good way to live. And if I’m to die tomorrow, I would go with these feelings of fulfilment,” Patel shared.
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“Ever since the news of this award has come out, people have been coming to the pharmacy and congratulating me. I’m happy to see my sewa is inspiring them all, and they want to do more from their end too. Many people who come to the pharmacy are visiting the temple as well. This makes me happy,” she added.
Shushma Patel has served as a National Coordinator for BAPS youth activities in the UK for 25 years. During this voluntary role, she has motivated women across the country to enhance their skills, community involvement, personal development, health and well-being. She has also served the local community through the COVID vaccinations at her pharmacy and championed community work as a local business leader.
Dr Mayank Shah, a trustee at the Mandir, shared: “Sushma is a role model to women. Despite being a full-time working mother who runs her own pharmacy business, she has dedicated time to developing young women to progress their volunteering and professional lives and start their own businesses.
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“During the Covid-19 pandemic, she encouraged her youth teams to raise funds for medical equipment and offered her pharmacy as a community hub for local residents to receive advice, support and vaccinations.”
Congratulating her, Rena Amin, the UK & Europe Head of Outreach and Community Relations of the temple, said: “A truly worthy award and truly worthy individual, Shushma is a beacon of inspiration, and her dedication is unparalleled. She is an outstanding volunteer but equally an amazing community pharmacist. She uses these two platforms to harness community cohesion and goes beyond the call of duty. She is indeed a pillar of strength and inspiration.”
Recognition with prestigious awards like the Coronation Champions Awards and community leaders like Shushma Patel encourage and inspire the diaspora to contribute selflessly to the community and make a lasting difference in many more lives.
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