An 80-year-old has been awarded an MBE fo services to elderly immigrant women in the UK and women and children in India.

Vilas Dhanani has provided 40 years of leadership to thousands of elderly immigrant women in Northwest London.

When she emigrated to the UK from Kenya in 1972, Vilas became aware of the problems faced by elderly Asian women immigrants.

Many of these women did not speak English, were lonely and struggling to integrate.

She decided to help, and set up informal groups for these women, explaining the transport system and how local councils work, and encouraging them to learn English.

The group then formally became known as the Shravika Satsang Mandal organisation in 1974.

As the organisation grew to serve more than 100 women in the North London area, Vilas trained in yoga and reflexology so that she could do more to help women’s health.

Once qualified, she set up training sessions and eventually trained more than 500 women as therapists themselves.

Through all of her efforts, Vilas has raised a steady stream of £10,000-£15,000 each year for charities.

In total, over the last 40 years, Vilas has raised more than £400,000 for charities including Jyoti Hospital, blind rehab centers, abandoned women and the poorest children in Gujarat India, and the Sangat-Social support group in the UK.

As well as routinely collecting clothes, shoes, household and educational materials for direct distribution to those in need in India, Kenya, Gambia, Vilas also arranged for a special cargo collection for the Philippines following the destructive typhoon.

Vilas said: “I am extremely honoured and excited to have been put forward as a MBE. I never imagined that the work I’ve done could come to this.

"I have always wanted to help women and children, particularly those in the most in need and in helpless situations. Happiness comes from being able to do something worthwhile.”