1907. Rambhaben Shah
Rambhaben Shah, from Leicester, aged 89, set up ‘Prem Yoga’ twenty years ago, giving out 32,000 free yoga lessons to keep the older Asian community healthy and to help women learn English.
Rambhaben took over the operation of the Prem Group when the former Age Concern run club was in danger of being closed, and after taking up a yoga class, decided to run these regularly to encourage older, isolated people to take up yoga to not only for their physical wellbeing but also to reduce loneliness and build wider connections within the community. The group has since flourished, providing a space for people to come together for social activities but also gaining practical support. Rambhaben has liaised with Leicester College to offer English language classes designed to help people with daily activities such as with hospital appointments, shopping and using public transport. She also runs the ‘Asian Towers Lunch Club’ which has served over 70,000 meals to the older Asian population in Leicester.
In a personal letter to Rambhaben, Prime Minsister Boris Johnson said:
“I was uplifted to learn about ‘Prem Yoga’ and how you have delivered over 32,000 yoga classes in your community. Your brilliant classes are helping thousands to improve their physical wellbeing and reduce loneliness.
I was also delighted to hear that ‘Asian Towers Lunch Club’ have now delivered over 70,000 meals to older people across Leicester. As we celebrate Vaisakhi, let me congratulate you for all you have achieved.”
“I thank God for the opportunity to make a difference in the well-being of the elderly folks in my community and in return this provides a sense of purpose to my own life. I hope to keep serving as long as I am physically and mentally able to. I can only run these clubs thanks to the support of so many individuals, particularly staff at Leicester City Council, Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, Leicester College and the Mayflower Methodist Church to whom I am so very grateful.”