Dev Patel, a young volunteer at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London – popularly known as ‘Neasden Temple’ – was presented with the Young Leader Award at the Pride of Brent Youth Awards on 17 August 2021.
The Pride of Brent Youth Awards recognises outstanding achievements of brilliant young people in the London borough of Brent, celebrating those who have reached ‘above and beyond’ to support their local community and others during 2020-2021. This year’s awards especially distinguished the work of young people from Brent in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dev, aged 20, is a law student, who adjusted exceptionally well to the cancellation of lectures during his first year at SOAS, University of London, achieving outstanding results. Amid these difficult circumstances, Dev overcame barriers and also volunteered to deliver tiffins to the elderly and most vulnerable during the early period of the pandemic through BAPS’s nationwide ‘Connect & Care’ programme. Dev participated 2-3 times a week, to shine a light of hope to the external community whilst remaining steadfast in his studies. His commitment to serving others is exemplary.
Dev is also a key volunteer for youth activities at London Mandir and helped lead a team of individuals to deliver the Mandir’s 25th anniversary celebrations in 2020. His efforts helped over 100,000 devotees to observe and participate in these iconic festivities online from their homes. Dev’s leadership and tenacity galvanised a team of volunteers who worked tirelessly day and night to create a high-quality production of devotion and inspiration.
The Young Leader Award was presented at a special awards ceremony at the Civic Centre in Wembley by Cllr Lia Colacicco, the Mayor of Brent, in the presence of Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, and Carolyn Downs, Chief Executive of Brent Council.
After receiving the award, Dev said, “I am inspired by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life motto, ‘In the joy of others lies our own.’ His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj continues to motivate us all by imbibing these principles and so when he issued a call for everyone to support the vulnerable at the outset of the pandemic, I just had to do my bit.
“The Mandir has provided me and many others like me a sense of purpose and belonging, an opportunity to give something back to the community, particularly during the adversities of Covid. Honestly, without the Mandir, I’d be lost. And so I dedicate this award to my Gurus, to everyone at the Mandir, and to every other BAPS volunteer who has helped to keep people safe and connected during the pandemic.”