Success Stories

CONGRATULATIONS TO RAJUBHAI LATITBHAI PANDYA

Having served as the first Gujarati/Indian Councillor to be elected in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames from 1994 to 2002, Rajubhai has been elected again in May 2014 for this same constituency. Rajubhai was born in Gujarat, India, in 1956 and has lived in London for over 45 years.

WE WISH RAJUBHAI AND HIS FAMILY VERY BEST WISHES AS HE RESURRECTS HIS DUTIES AS A COUNCILLOR. WELL DONE AND MAY GOD CONTINUE TO GIVE YOU STRENGTH TO SERVE THE COMMUNITY OF THE ROYAL BORUGH OF KINGSTON UPON THAMES.

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An Article by Sejal Mehta (D/O Dinesh and Madhuben Mehta) – posted 22nd October 2005
We are very pleased that Sejal has agreed to write an article for our Success Section . She is an  up and coming Solicitor in our community. At a young age she has achieved a great deal with hard work and determination . She is currently working in Cardiff as an Associate Partner in a Law firm, please read her inspiring article on why she has chosen Law as her profession.  We thank her and wish her every success in the future.

My life in the law, or why old lawyers never die, they just lose their appeal!!
I have been asked to write an article on why I chose the legal profession as my chosen career path. My first (and somewhat flippant) response when asked was “well I wanted to be a pop star but 1) I couldn’t sing and 2) my dad would have killed me, so I chose law instead!

In all seriousness however Law was something I have been interested in ever since I was young. My interest was first sparked by the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six cases. For those who are too young to remember, each of these cases involved the conviction of Northern Irish men of terrorist attacks in the UK. The convictions were based on confessions by the alleged perpetrators. It later came to light that these confessions had been obtained by torture and later these men were released (having spent between fourteen and eighteen years in prison) and their convictions seen as gross miscarriages of justice. When I heard about these atrocities I became interested in the legal process and how our system worked.

After my GCSEs I studied Law at A level along with English and History, and whilst the other two subjects were interesting, it was law that fascinated me. In particular I was enthralled by the litigation process and how and why our system compensated those who had been injured. I was particularly interested in advocacy, some may say because of my argumentative nature! Having now engaged in advocacy I have learnt that an argumentative nature does not assist and in fact a cool head is what is required.

It was during my A levels that I decided to read Law at University. Having obtained the necessary grades, I chose to go to Cardiff University. The degree was difficult but stimulating and thought provoking, in particular it taught me to study on my own (we only had 10 hours of formal tuition per week, but were expected to supplement this with five or six hours of study per day), pay close attention to detail and to think for myself; never to accept something as fact just because someone else told me it was so.

During my time at University I decided that I wanted to become a solicitor rather than a barrister. Solicitors are those who deal with the public and barristers generally represent people in court and tend to be more specialised, however the distinction is becoming blurred and solicitors can now represent their clients in court after obtaining a “higher rights” qualification. I wanted the close client contact and also the satisfaction of being part of a team which is why I decided to go down the route of a solicitor.

The hardest part of becoming a solicitor is securing a training contract. After University you need to undertake a further post graduate course which is a year long and then work for two years as a trainee solicitor before you are qualified. I know a lot of people who found it extremely difficult to obtain a training contract, principally because there are too few contracts and too many applicants.

I was very lucky and obtained a training contract with a commercial law firm in Cardiff. I spent two years working in various departments but eventually decided that I wanted to work in clinical negligence. Initially I worked on behalf of the patients, initiating law suits against the doctors. After two years of working on behalf of patients I went over to the other side and began defending doctors in civil actions. I really enjoy this area of law because of its unique mixture of law and medicine. I learn something new every day. I feel very proud of what I do, in essence, the NHS spends over £20 million in compensation for injured patients and whilst I do not want to deprive anyone of their rightful money I do feel that each case needs to be thoroughly investigated to ensure that we award only those who truly have been injured. The difficulty is that many people who come into hospital are already poorly and therefore a large part of my job in trying to work out what they would have been like as  a result of their illness and what the doctors’ negligence has done.  The hours can be long as I can travel to various parts of the country interviewing doctors, preparing for trials and meetings with experts and barristers.

This area also holds special appeal for me as I rely heavily on the NHS in my private life. I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic at the age of 15 and since then have relied on the excellent treatment, care and advice provided by dedicated doctors and nurses to maintain a good quality of life. Having needed the NHS so much I am grateful that I can put a little back into this valuable service with my legal expertise.

My advice to any aspiring lawyer, you need to have a strong work ethic, be persistent in the face of rejection and above all retain a sense of humour!

OUR COMMUNITY’S SUCCESS

Over the last 30 years, many of our community members have made great progress in their education and professional careers, often serving as role models for some of the younger generations. This page is dedicated to highlighting these sucesses within our community so that younger generations can be inspired. Here are some of the career paths taken by some of our community members…..

Other well known individuals in our community are:

  • Dentists
  • Doctors
  • Accountants
  • Lawyers
  • IT Consultants
  • Business Managers

Each month, we will publish articles from community members belonging to these professions on this page. This month, we have an very interesting article from Shree Sukhdevbhai Gor on Our Collective Success Story as the UK Valam Community:

As early as 1912, our community members had thought of exploring new avenues to better their own living standards and earning levels so that they help their families. Education was the foundation of this aspiration, and everyone started to place high value education, seeing this as the utmost priority. To the educate children, families needed finance. Therefore, initially, our men-folk started a wave of emigration to East Africa, where there was a great demand for both skilled and unskilled workers. Slowly, as they started to settle down, their families and relatives joined them. Success followed their hard work and labour. They worked incredibly hard, and improved the lives of their relatives around them as well as those back home in India. Their children were benefiting from the British education system established in East Africa, and often, they were sent to University in India and UK. Our community began to prosper and flourish as did many other communities. Many in our community not only built their own homes, but also helped to build community halls, Mandirs, hospitals and even their own schools. During the 1950s and 1960s, the wind of political change for Independence swept across Africa, and countries in East Africa became Independent from the British Empire.

Many in our community who were retired or about to retire decided to return back to India during this time. However, during the most dangerous time of the cruel Ugandan Regime under Gen. Idi Amin, when Asians were forcibly exiled, many families of within the community moved to different parts of the world. Most came to the UK, as they had acquired British Citizenship whilst in East Africa. Though some came to the UK as students decades earlier, real settlement started from 1955 and peaked in the early 1970s.

Our settlement in the UK is now coming up to 50 years, and we have achieved a great deal of real progress in that time. No doubt, it has been a struggle along the way. But during this period, many of our youngsters have graduated from University and have now become successful professionals in various sectors in Industry. Others have made their fortunes in areas of Business and Finance, Self Employment, often running their own businesses and shops. Many are now married, settled with families, living happily. Our satisfaction is that we have successfully maintained our core Hindu values, beliefs, cultures, traditions for the benefit of our children, whilst adopting positive values from those around us. We now have a community comprised of well educated, smart, talented professionals who continue to respect and look after their elders.

This is our collective success story, so let us together thank God for this achievement and pray for more progressive successes for younger generations to come.

By Shree Sukhdevbhai Gor
April 2004