Banffshire Honours

Congratulations to Vinay Ruparelia, MBE

Deputy Lieutenant of Banffshire

Vinay has been honoured for his services to local enterprise, to tourism and to the community of Portsoy.

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The New Years Honours 2021 recognises the achievements and service of people across the UK, from all walks of life. 

Vinay becomes a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).  An MBE is awarded for an outstanding achievement or service to the community, that has long-term, significant impact and stands out as an example to others.

The citation for his honour nomination reads:

"Vinay came to the United Kingdom at the time when the Asian community was being expelled from Uganda by the then President, Idi Amin.  After gaining qualifications as a pharmacist from Chelsea College, in 1978 he took the opportunity to buy a pharmacy business in Portsoy, Banffshire, an area of the country he did not, at the time, know.  Since then, he has used his many skills, resourcefulness and time not only to build a very successful business but more particularly to make a positive and continuing impact on the local community and surrounding area.

Vinay made a huge success of the pharmacy business due to his determination and entrepreneurial skills.  This drive led to him investing in and opening other shops in neighbouring communities.  However, he used this success to make a difference.  Through his contact with customers, he gained an understanding of the needs of the area. 

Most of the projects mentioned below have their roots in this motivation.  For example, he advised and supported young entrepreneurs both with his business experience and practical help.  This has led to employment opportunities and improved services.  One of the largest retail businesses in the area started because Vinay was willing to be a partner until the owner was able to stand on his own.

His selfless generosity has also been a hallmark of his approach to the community.  At one level, there are many stories of him going the extra mile and privately targeting practical support to individual families.  He will also support local charities and organizations with their fundraising by gifts for raffles.  Groups who work with charities in developing countries have always found him ready to provide appropriate items for them to distribute.

 

Vinay has been especially passionate about supporting young people to become more aspirational and to have the confidence and skills to fulfil their potential.  He has worked closely with the local secondary school to provide work experience and part time employment.  There are several young pharmacists in the area who will credit Vinay as being an inspiration, mentor and encourager.  He has served on several school liaison groups that has allowed him to influence school policy to meet the needs of the area.

He is a long serving Board member of Portsoy Community Enterprise (PCE).  His business and financial acumen helped steer this organization to establishing several social enterprise projects which have created local employment opportunities as well as having brought income into the community.  PCE now run the biggest Traditional Boat Festivals in the UK, which is a focus for the entire town and area.  This group has recently been successful in achieving a Queens’ Award for Voluntary Service.

Vinay’s unstinting determination and his conscientiousness, over the years, have made a significant contribution to the group’s success and in being in such a position to be worthy of nomination.  He also used these skills to start the Boyndie Trust which provides supported opportunities for adults with learning difficulties.  His support for the director and other employees was crucial in getting the work of the trust established so that it now plays a significant role in the local community and has received a visit from HRH The Princess Royal.

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Scottish Traditional Boat Festival 2019
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For eight years Vinay was Chairman of Turning Point, a charitable organization supporting adults with learning difficulties, substance misuse and criminal justice issues.  Not only did Vinay use his business skills to ensure proper governance of the organization, but his imagination and creative skills helped them develop and gain sustainable funding.

Vinay is a very active member of the Rotary Club of Banff and has served as its President as well as holding roles at District level.  In addition to being actively involved in many Rotary activities serving the community, Vinay was in a group that initiated the Aberdeenshire Life Education Centre (ALEC).  This initiative has proved to be sustainable and has played a key role in drugs and health education in local authority secondary schools.  His experience as a pharmacist supporting those with drug dependency issues has been a key motivating factor in his contributions to this project, and to the design and refreshment of the ALEC programme.

Having attended a school in Kampala, Uganda, which struggled for resources, Vinay became chairman of Books Abroad, a charity based in north Aberdeenshire that collects books from schools in the UK and transports them to schools in developing countries. 

As a result of Vinay’s zeal and visionary leadership, the charity has expanded significantly and is now on a solid financial footing with plans for further growth.  He personally is seen as one of the key motivating forces in attracting and retaining volunteers.  He has built up a network of contacts across the country for supplying books – which he often collects himself.  He has also developed links with recipient schools to help ensure that the resources are well used in developing literacy and other life skills. 

His vision has included organizing groups of supporters from this area to visit the receiving schools.  The impact of these visits has been significant on both the schools and the individuals who took part in the trips – increasing their commitment to the project and developing their understanding of global citizenship.

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Although Vinay has never sought public recognition, his standing in the community has been marked by his appointment as an Honorary Sheriff.  This is a role that he has carried out with diligence, gaining the respect of all involved in the judicial system.  In 2013, he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Banffshire – another role that he carries out seeking to make a difference to people.  For example, his thoughtful approach allows the Royal Garden Party nominations to be an opportunity to encourage others.  His contributions to the organization of royal visits has always been insightful and contributed much to the success of these occasions.

 

Vinay is a person who has made a positive difference to both individuals and his community – as well as across the globe through Books Abroad.  He recognized the challenges he faced at school in Uganda and when he first came to the UK.  His response to these experiences and what he has achieved makes him inspirational and he has gained the respect of all."