A TAMESIDE councillor says he is ‘over the moon’ at the surprise of receiving an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to the community.
Vimal Choksi, 42, has represented Ashton Waterloo ward since 2018 and is also an active campaigner with groups and associations across the borough and the North West.
And his dedication and achievements over the years have earned him the MBE – but he admits he has no idea who nominated him.
“I am overwhelmed to be honest,” added Cllr Choksi. “I never did something because I expected to receive this, especially at my age.
“It makes me feel a lot older now I have received this honour! There is a bit of extra responsibility and I feel I have to conduct myself to a higher standard now I have this against my name.
“But of course it is an honour and a privilege to be recognised. I am over the moon.
“I would like to thank everyone who has supported me over the years, particularly my wonderful wife Dimple and my amazing children Tisha and Devarsh. I would also like to thank my many friends and colleagues who have always stood by me.
“However, it doesn’t change normal life and you just have to get on with things. I’ve got a litter pick tomorrow morning!
“I am proud to be a member of our brilliant community. My parents taught me the importance of community service and activism. I have learnt many things from many different people along the way, and they have always inspired me to do better.”
Cllr Choksi was born in India before moving over to the UK permanently.
He entered a career in adult social care for Oldham Council and is currently involved in managing contracts and commissioning activities of multi-million-pound services for local residents.
He played an active voluntary role in a number of community organisations across Oldham and Tameside, including being a trustee of a local community centre, running events and activities for local residents, and serving on the executive committee of Oldham Indian Association.
In 2018, he became the first Indian-origin councillor elected to Tameside Council for Ashton Waterloo Ward and the first Asian-origin Councillor in Ashton-under-Lyne.
He is heavily involved with casework and community activism across the Greater Manchester area, assisting other Labour councillors and MPs with issues affecting constituents of Indian origin.
He also works to promote the greater participation of women of Indian origin in public life, as well as ethnic minorities generally, as part of Party programmes developing more minority candidates, leaders and activists.
He is a trustee of the Richmond Street Community Centre and actively supports local foodbanks with collections and distribution.
“With Covid, a lot of things have stalled but we’re getting back on track now,” Cllr Choski added. “I always say to people, ‘you can do anything if you work hard’.”