COMMUNITY pharmacist Umesh Patel has dedicated his MBE to the people of Wearside.
Mr Patel, 60, who owns Leema Pharmacy on Southwick Green, said he owed his success to the people of Sunderland after being given his gong from the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
He was one of a number of people in Wearside and Durham to be named in the New Year’s honours list.
“It was Her Majesty who gave me the award, and it was such a tremendous day for all the family. I am so lucky,” he said.
“It’s better than winning the World Cup, it’s better than winning the Lottery – you have to earn it. How I’ve earned it I don’t know, the people who nominated me are my judges.”
The dad, who lives in Ashbrooke with wife Damini, also a pharmacist, and has two children, Lokesh, 18, and Tripura, 21, is chairman of the Sunderland Local Pharmaceutical Committee.
He was also awarded an honorary doctorate of science by Sunderland University this year.
He said: “I’m extremely grateful to the people of the North East, especially the people here in Southwick. Without them I wouldn’t have this honour.
“I’m also very thankful to the university, which gave me an honorary doctorate.”
Mr Patel was born in Jinja, Uganda, and came to study pharmacy in Sunderland in the 1970s.
He opened his first pharmacy in London in 1980 and moved to Sunderland in 1990.
Mr Patel’s award citation said he has taken a keen interest in educational issues and the university community, providing opportunities for students to experience practice placements, supporting the Alumni Association and its active pharmacy section and helping with welfare issues such as supporting pharmacy students with personal difficulties.
He joined the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee in 2001 and has been the chairman of the Review and Audit Panel since 2004.
He was also elected to the National Pharmacy Association Board in 1998 to represent the North East.
Mr Patel added: “The Queen asked me how many years had I been a pharmacist, and I said 33 – she said ‘that’s a long time to be a pharmacist, and what else do you do?’
“I said I do a little bit of work for charity and I also do some work with children in schools encouraging them to come into the profession, and she said ‘well deserved’.”