Downing Street invitation for Zak

Praise: Zak Patel, centre, during the Diana Awards 19th Anniversary event at Downing Street.
Praise: Zak Patel, centre, during the Diana Awards 19th Anniversary event at Downing Street.

A local entrepreneur has earned some high praise after being invited to celebrate the Diana Awards 19th Anniversary at Downing Street.

Zak Patel, who heads up the luxury jewellery brand Pugata, based in Batley, and also presides over 16 02 franchises throughout Yorkshire, employing in excess of 250 people.

Mr Patel said he was honoured to have been invited, insisting people should work together to build a deeply caring society and become ‘more creative and generous in the work we do to break down barriers’.

He said: “I am delighted to accept the invitation to share some highlights of 2018 and the plans for next year, which will be the Diana Award’s 20th Anniversary.

“The Diana Awards have made a huge difference to millions of lives in its 19 years.

“The commitment to changing lives of people and making communities a safer place to live in is admirable indeed.”

Mr Patel is known for his generosity and good character. He famously stepped in to create a unique role for one of his Talk Direct employees, who found out he was losing his eyesight.

When Mark Skelton found that he was losing his eyesight instead of laying him off Mr Patel sat down with his cousin and HR director Idris Patel and came up with Project iCare.

Designed to help people with sight issues use technology to communicate and make their lives easier, it was launched in 2014. Mr Skelton, who prior to losing his sight was an assistant store leader in Rotherham, became project ambassador for iCare.

“Luckily for me Zak took a big chance on me at the beginning. I don’t know if many employers would have done what Zak did,” said Mr Skelton at the time.