Volunteer helped needy from Africa to the Vale

AN AYLESBURY stalwart who helped improved the lives of ethnic minorities living in the town has died, aged 76.

Mohanlal Prajapati, of Fairfax Crescent, was born in India and experienced tragedy at just eight years of age when his mother died from a snake bite.

When he was just 12 years old he travelled alone to Mombasa, Kenya on a steamer to be with his father.

After completing secondary school, he commenced a sought after role at an Indian bank where he worked for 16 years.

He spent his spare time teaching vulnerable Kenyan children English, and used his skills to help illiterate people.

However due to social unrest spreading across East Africa, in 1971 he moved his family to Aylesbury to join his brother Hansraj.

He accepted a job in the education department at Bucks County Council where he worked for 25 years until retirement.

But it is for his volunteering work for which Mr Prajapati will be most remembered.

He started by acting as one of the first South Asian translators in Aylesbury, helping people appearing in court.

Mr Prajapati was one of the first members of the Racial Equality Committee and one of the original members of what is now known as the Indian Cultural Society.

Their first event was Navratri (one of the main celebrations of the Hindu calendar) in 1972, which is still celebrated in Aylesbury today.

In 1974, the marriage of his eldest daughter was the first Indian wedding in Aylesbury.

He also joint-founded a voluntary organisation where women could learn English.

Mr Prajapati leaves behind his wife Lalita, daughters Madhuri, Minaxi and Mayuri, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

His funeral took place on Thursday in Amersham.

His family has asked for donations to be made to the British Heart Foundation.