Tireless citizen handed award for temple efforts after changing his life

Winner: Nagindas Gandhi, and, left, with Kailash Parekh and his community achievement award
Winner: Nagindas Gandhi, and, left, with Kailash Parekh and his community achievement award
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Nagindas Gandhi has spent his life working in the community and serving others.

The 81-year-old raises funds for charity, helps his neighbours, and works tirelessly for the temple where he is president.

Now the great grandfather has been recognised with a surprise award.

But Mr Gandhi said he would never retire from his community work, living his life by the advice: “In the joy of others, lies our own.”

He is president of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Preston.

Mr Gandhi said: “I enjoy what I do for the temple, and even if some other people there are collecting for charity I always join in.

“I’m so lucky, everybody loves me and that’s how I live my life.”

He described himself as pro-active, involving himself in fundraising and also continuing to work in the temple, through offering support and also helping with cleaning and preparations for refurbishment.

Mr Gandhi said his life changed when he met his guru at Preston’s Guild Hall in 1974, when he gave up drinking alcohol and smoking and became a vegetarian.

He said: “I want to do the same work up to the end of my life, and I would like to die working for God.

“I want to continue helping as many people as I can.

“My doctor said I’ve done a good job in my community now just take a rest, but I said no, not in my life.”

Mr Gandhi faced difficult times when his granddaughter passed away at the age of 19 about 12 years ago, and his wife passed away about 10 years ago, but he always tried to stay positive.

He said: “My holy man said don’t lose faith, don’t cry, be strong.

“When my wife passed away I was very strong – I had to look after my kids.”

Mr Gandhi, who lives on Broadgate, was secretly nominated in a special category of the Fusion Awards by one of the judges, Kailash Parekh, who wanted to recognise his achievements.

He said: “I got there and I didn’t know I was getting the award, she never mentioned it.

“I was very proud of the award – I’ve never won anything.

“I still don’t know what I said in my speech, but I heard the clapping of all the people.”

He was presented with the community achievement award at a special ceremony at Blackburn’s King George’s Hall, in front of a crowd of about 500 people.

He said: “I’m not working for awards, I’m working for all the people. That’s my motivation.

“I won’t be changing anything, I’ll still be helping people.

“It’s just natural to me – I’m not inspirational, it’s just normal.”

Mr Gandhi said his “dream” was now to see the refurbished Hindu temple on Ribble Bank Street complete at the start of next year.

He said: “My last aim is to see the temple finished and have an opening ceremony. Then if I go to heaven I don’t mind, but I want to see those things.”

Kailash Parekh described Mr Gandhi as a “shining example”.

She said: “In the community, if anybody is in trouble they ring him up and he’ll be there.

“He’s the best deserving person for the award.”

She said the Fusion Awards recognised unsung heroes.