New Year's Honours: Ilford pharmacist who boosted BAME blood donations made MBE

Pharmacist Ravi Bhanot was awarded an MBE for helping boost BAME blood and organ donors and for his work giving free CPR...

Pharmacist Ravi Bhanot was awarded an MBE for helping boost BAME blood and organ donors and for his work giving free CPR training. - Credit: Michael Molloy

An Ilford pharmacist who helped boost BAME blood donations after being told he couldn't donate blood has been made an MBE in the New Year's Honours.

When Ravi Bhanot was five years old his mother had a critical pregnancy and a blood donation from a stranger saved both the lives of his mother and younger sister. It made a huge impression on him. 

Through the work of the Sewa Day charity Ravi and others have donated thousands of meals a week to homeless and vulnerable...

Through the work of the Sewa Day charity Ravi and others have donated thousands of meals a week to homeless and vulnerable people throughout the pandemic. - Credit: Ravi Bhanot

As an adult he wanted to donate blood to help others as well but since he had malaria antibodies from his time growing up in Kenya he was excluded from giving blood.

Despite this he started a campaign to encourage eligible people from BAME communities to partake in blood and organ donations and helped raise the numbers of donors across London and Essex.

Working with the charity Sewa Day Ravi and others delivered Christmas shoeboxes to the Wellcome Centre. 

Working with the charity Sewa Day Ravi and others delivered Christmas shoeboxes to the Welcome Centre. - Credit: Ravi Bhanot

He also saw that one of the major reasons for premature deaths in the BAME community was due to heart attacks and he witnessed this first hand when his mother had a heart attack at home.

To help prevent this he co-founded Make it Beat, which is the first national charity to provide free coronary pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training.

They also delivered gifts to the Richard House Children's Hospice. 

They also delivered gifts to the Richard House Children's Hospice. - Credit: Ravi Bhanot

The charity gives training in four languages and the trainers come to community centres. It is available to anyone, no strings attached.

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Also through his work with the charity Sewa Day, Ravi and many others have helped provide thousands of meals a week to the homeless and vulnerable throughout the pandemic.

Delivering the shoeboxes to the Welcome Centre. 

Delivering the shoeboxes to the Welcome Centre. - Credit: Ravi Bhanot

He is made an MBE for services to wellbeing and community action including during the Covid-19 response.

He told the Recorder it was an honour to get the recognition. "It represents a validation that what we're doing is making a difference and having an impact on people's lives.

"We hope this recognition will encourage even more people from the BAME communities to donate blood and organs and learn CPR."

He said that there are a lot of cultural barriers that prevent people from BAME communities to donate blood and organs and through his work he hopes to break those down.

For more information on Sewa Day visit https://sewaday.org and to book a free CPR training visit https://makeitbeat.org.uk/.

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