MBE awarded to north-east man for his extensive community work
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A Portsoy man has been awarded an MBE for his services to local enterprise, tourism and the community.
Vinay Ruparelia (71) was named in the Queen's New Year Honours for the extensive work he has done with a range of groups over the years.
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 recently retired pharmacist said: "I am honoured to receive this award in recognition of my work with community enterprise and various charities in Banffshire and further afield.
"I'm very pleased as it is recognition of the job of a community pharmacist because all the different things I have done have been triggered off from working in the pharmacy.
"You see all the needs of the area and you start to think how can I get involved to help. It opens up your eyes to the issues affecting people.
"Being a fairly small community the people have all got behind the projects very well. The inspiration has been seeing them become active and lively.
"The work of the volunteers and their endeavours makes things happen.
"It has been pleasure and privilege to work with the community in and around Banffshire."
Mr Ruparelia moved to the United Kingdom from his home country of Uganda at the time when the Asian community was being expelled by the then President, Idi Amin.
After moving to London, gaining qualifications as a pharmacist from Chelsea College and meeting wife Teresa, in 1978 he took the opportunity to buy a pharmacy business in Portsoy, an area of the country he did not know at the time.
The success of his pharmacy saw him expand into Banff, Peterhead and Dingwall and through his contact with customers he gained an understanding of the needs of the area.
He was a long serving board member of Portsoy Community Enterprise (PCE). He helped steer this organisation to establishing several social enterprise projects which have created local employment opportunities as well as having brought income into the community.
PCE now runs the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, one of the area's biggest events; the Sail Loft accommodation; caravan park; Salmon Bothy and Boatshed workshop. The group was successful in achieving the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.
Mr Ruparelia also founded the Boyndie Trust which provides supported opportunities for adults with learning difficulties. He helped get 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.
For eight years he was chairman of Turning Point, a charitable organisation supporting adults with learning difficulties, substance misuse issues and criminal justice problems.
Having attended a school in Kampala, Uganda, which struggled for resources, Mr Ruparelia had first hand experience of this issue and this led him to becoming involved and is now chairman of Books Abroad, a charity based in Rhynie that collects books and transports them to schools in developing countries.
Under his leadership, the charity has expanded significantly, with plans for further growth. It has reached the milestone of supplying four million books to schools in more than 100 countries.
Mr Ruparelia is an active member of the Rotary Club of Banff and has served as its president as well as holding roles at district level.
He was part of a group that created 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.
Mr Ruparelia is an honorary sheriff and in 2013 was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Banffshire.
His community work has also seen him support local charities, groups, organisations and individuals. A particular focus has been helping young people which has seen him work with the local secondary school to provide work experience and part-time employment. He has served on several school liaison groups that has allowed him to influence policy to meet the needs of the area.