Equality chief steps down
PUBLISHED: 10:49 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:36 23 August 2010
A RACIAL equality council leader has taken early retirement as the recession forces the closure of the organisation s original office. Dev Sharma MBE stepped down yesterday (Wednesday) as director of the North West Kent Racial Equality Council after 20 y
A RACIAL equality council leader has taken early retirement as the recession forces the closure of the organisation's original office.
Dev Sharma MBE stepped down yesterday (Wednesday) as director of the North West Kent Racial Equality Council after 20 years of fighting to improve provision for ethnic minorities.
New director Gurvinder Sandher will continue to operate the Gravesend office after the Priory Hill office in Dartford was axed.
It is also to be renamed Kent Equality Cohesion Council to represent its county wide nature.
Mr Sharma, who received an MBE from the Queen in 2006 for his outstanding work in the community, said: "It already feels very strange.
"There comes a time when you have to end these things and with the recession it was what needed to be done."
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Mr Sharma, of Winifred Road, Dartford, went to university in India before moving to the Canterbury in 1963.
Shortly afterwards he met his wife Primela, who was living in Sidcup, and moved to North Kent.
Working with the authorities Mr Sharma, who has two sons, Rajan a consultant cardiologist at Ealing hospital, and Deepak, a senior manager at Glaxosmithkline, was able to push for facilities for the black and ethnic minorities such as the Milan Day Centre.
He added: "Before setting up the council I was working a lot in the community. The hardest part at first was working with Dartford Borough Council, Kent County Council the police and fire service to establish credibility. At first people are a bit suspicious of you motives.
"It was important that I was able to provide advice to these groups about how to secure funding for these projects."
His work, which took him onto the Kent County Council Strategic Partnership and Dartford and Gravesham Strategic Partnerships, as well as a member of the North West Kent Council for Voluntary Service, earned him his MBE four years ago.
"That has to be the highlight for me. I was really pleased it was the Queen herself who gave it to me," he added.
Mr Sharma will remain a member of the council's board in an advisory role.