A world-leading pharmacist and De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) graduate has described visiting the building named after him on campus as a "truly humbling" experience.
Dr Vijay Patel, Chief Executive Officer of Waymade Healthcare, and his wife Smita last year made 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 - donated £1million to help financially-disadvantaged students and to pay for an extruder, a specialist machine capable of producing medicine at a very high rate.
In recognition of this, the award-winning new home of DMU's art and design courses - which was completed last year - was named the Vijay Patel Building; and a Pharmacy facility was also named the Smita Patel Laboratory.
This week Dr Patel and his wife were shown around the buildings which bear their name, as part of a tour of DMU's newly-completed campus transformation.
Afterwards, Dr Patel said he had been impressed by what he had seen.
He said: "It really is a wonderful building and it was a very humbling experience to be shown around it.
"I spoke to half a dozen students and each one was thrilled to be working in such a beautiful and ultra-modern place. I am glad to have my name associated with it."
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.
Dr Simon Oldroyd, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, said the Patels' donation would inspire students.
He said: "The Smita Patel Laboratory is in the Hawthorn Building here at DMU, which is where it all began for Dr Patel and his wife.
"Students often ask about the people the buildings they are studying in and the Patels' story - moving to the UK, studying at DMU and going on to take those skills they learned to make such an impressive mark in pharmacy - it will inspire them.
"The extruder their donation has allowed DMU to acquire is an industry-leading machine and DMU is now one of the only universities to have one on campus.
"It will give our students a big advantage and it will also help train existing industry staff. We can only thank the Patels for their generosity."
Posted on Friday 7th April 2017