One of the most successful pharmacist couples in the world are to use their wealth to help students in financial need achieve their dreams at the alma mater which helped launch their careers, De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
Dr Vijay Patel, Chief Executive Officer of Waymade Healthcare, and his wife Smita will make the single biggest donation by individuals in DMU's history to provide a series of bursaries and pay for cutting-edge equipment for the university's Pharmacy department.
Dr Patel, a graduate of DMU's Leicester School of Pharmacy, and Mrs Patel - herself a pharmacy graduate with first class honours - will donate £1million to help financially-disadvantaged students and to pay for an extruder, a specialist machine capable of producing medicine at a very high rate.
Dr Patel said he wanted to give something back to the university which helped him achieve his success.
He said: "It was at De Montfort University where I learned many of the skills which have helped define my career.
"Not only academic skills but confidence and ambition, the feeling that I could go into the world and make the future I wanted for myself.
"Education and the university experience is the bedrock for what we have achieved and we want to be able to help make sure as many people as possible have the chance to experience this."
After graduating, Dr Patel and his wife opened their first pharmacy in Essex in 1975. The business took off and this in turn fuelled the growth of a chain of chemist shops.
In 1984 the couple, together with Dr Patel's brother, Bhikhu, founded Waymade Healthcare, a distribution company that supplied medicines for its own chain as well as hospitals, wholesalers and other pharmacies. The success of this enterprise led to the Patels selling all but two of their pharmacies.
In 2003, the group launched a new division, Amdipharm, to acquire and promote branded products globally. Amdipharm grew exponentially, with a presence in over 100 countries at the time of its sale, just nine years later, in 2012.
Dr Patel is now one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the UK and has formed extensive high level business links in the UK and abroad.
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Mrs Patel said she and her husband wanted to use their wealth to benefit others.
She said: "As a family we have always believed that education is a gift for life, empowering a person to follow their dreams. Every individual, rich or poor, has aspirations to better themselves and there is no better way than education to help us fulfil our dreams.
"Vijay and I have been very fortunate to have studied Pharmacy at what was then 'Leicester Polytechnic'. Our donation has been made so that we can give something back to the institution that helped pave the way to where we are now. We hope it helps many more students in the future."
The bursaries awarded through Dr Patel's donation will be known as Waymade Scholarships and be available to full-time and part-time undergraduate students, awarded annually from the start of the 2016-17 academic year.
In recognition of this donation, the new building to house the Faculty of Art, Design and Humanities will be named the Vijay Patel Building. A newly refurbished laboratory in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences will be named after Dr Patel's wife, Smita.
Professor Dominic Shellard, Vice-Chancellor of De Montfort University, said: "It is an honour for us to accept this generous donation from Dr Patel, a gift from which we and so many of our students, present and future, will gratefully benefit.
"Dr Patel's success is an inspiration to us all and at the base of it is a strong foundation forged while studying here at DMU. It is a tribute to him, to our university and to the power and importance of education."
Posted on Monday 21st March 2016