You won’t often hear me praise the Prime Minister – at least not this one – but I offer a tip of the hat and a muttered “Fair play” to David Cameron for keeping a promise on Friday last (July 18).
You will recall that the horror of the Malaysian Airline disaster had just burst across the news media and the PM was due to attend an emergency meeting of the COBRA Committee. The initials actually stand for Cabinet Office Briefing Room A but somehow the acronym seems much more memorable – if a little James Bond.
Prior to the murderous slaughter of the innocents over the skies of eastern Ukraine David Cameron had made a promise to one of the most extraordinary entrepreneurs to ply his trade in Greenford – Dr Rami Ranger, MBE. For the past four years Rami’s company ,Sun Mark, had won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade and Mr Cameron had lightly joked that if Rami won the award for an unprecedented fifth consecutive year then he would come to Greenford to present it .
Those of us who know Rami would never have been so rash as to ignore the near inevitability of his breaking yet another record and so it proved to be.
Rami’s back story is surely the stuff of legend and if you don’t know the man you would find it hard to take in. The son of a murdered father – assassinated before Rami was born on the .July 1947 in the maelstrom that was the partition of India - Rami arrived in England in 1971 having sold all his possessions and intending to study law.
When money ran out he found a job as a car cleaner and trained as a cook for one of the first KFC franchises. Living in Norwood he saved every penny and took over a post office, an off licence and then a convenience store.
Today he exports to 115 countries and appears on the annual UK Rich List at number 48 with a hard won fortune of over £135,000,000. He is quite simply one of the most remarkable people I have ever met and I can forgive him his loyalty to the Conservative Party on the grounds that he is entitled to make one mistake in an otherwise faultless career.
So there we were on a hot Friday morning in Greenford awaiting the PM with a distinct impression that he might not make it. I was sat between the High Commissioner of India, H.E.Ranjan Mathai and the even grander Rt.Hon. Keith Vaz, MP. Rami being Rami had also invited the global superstar of Bollywood – Nana Patekar – and he almost managed to upstage the PM when he suddenly arrived amidst a flurry of close protection officers whispering urgently into the cuffs of their suit jackets..
The usual chaos that is expected on such occasions ensued after Mr Cameron had made a graceful and rather witty speech.
Crowds rushed Nana Patekar and the PM while their respective entourages battled to sweep them away. Amidst all this the serene presence of Rami Ranger stood unruffled and at ease.
Cameron was swept off to Downing Street, Keith Vaz may have had a helicopter on standby but if not he gave that impression by suddenly disappearing and I was left to survey the scene and ruminate on what had been an almost unbelievable occasion in the company of a man best summed up by the title of his autobiography “From Nothing to Everything”.
Congratulations Rami – you bring credit to Greenford. Well done David Cameron for keeping a promise and especial thanks to Rami’s wife, his three daughters and to one of the most effective and multinational workforces in Ealing – if not in London.
A great morning for Greenford!