Dannevirke man Suresh Patel says he was speechless, overwhelmed and surprised when he first learned that he had been nominated for a Queen's Birthday honour.

"I thought why me. It took a long time to sink in," Patel said.

He has been given a Queen's Service Medal for his services to the community and sport.

Patel said he first received email notification of the nomination during the second week of level 4 lockdown but because he was trying to restart his business it was a week later before he actually read the message.


"From there things got a lot busier at work and the email got a bit lost at that stage. It wasn't a priority.

"I gave a lot of thought to accepting the nomination but it was my wife Nayna who convinced me. She said I had worked long and hard for a considerable number of years in many areas and the award was an acknowledgement of that."

In business Patel co-owns Shire's Fruit and Vege Market with Nayna and brother Peter.

"I have been fortunate to be able to do the work I have done because of the incredible support from Nayna, Peter and the extended family who have always encouraged me. And the staff have always stepped up to help out if I had meetings or functions to attend."

Patel was Dannevirke Chamber of Commerce chairman on two separate occasions, originally between 2008 and 2012 helping to prevent it from going into recession and then driving the growth of the association over the past 13 years.

During his time as chairman from 2013 to 2015 Patel revitalised the Dannevirke Christmas parade, which has grown over the past five years under his leadership.

Patel said the revitalisation of the chamber came about just as the global financial crisis hit in 2008. At the same time the town's main street was going through a major rebuild which disrupted many businesses.

Several business owners saw a need for a way to communicate with the council throughout the rebuild which led to the reforming of the chamber under the leadership of Patel.


"We virtually started with nothing and ended up with 135 members in the first year. This reflected the need for an organisation with a voice that could get the town up and running again through some challenging years."

Patel's passion for sport has seen him play cricket, hockey and rugby. When his playing career ended he turned to coaching hockey and cricket and then to administration.

He was the chairman of Dannevirke Cricket Association from 2002 to 2010 and president of the Central Districts Indian Sports for 14 years from 1996 to 2010. He has been a delegate and selector with the New Zealand Indian Sports Association for a number of years and has helped to organise various New Zealand Indian Sports tournaments.

He has been a coach, referee and a member of a number of different sports clubs and teams.

Patel was made an Honoured Member of the New Zealand Indian Sports Association in 2012, and life member of the Central Districts Indian Sports Club in 2016 and the Dannevirke Chamber of Commerce in 2017.

"I've played sport all my life and I have really appreciated the people I've played with and against and I've made many lifetime friends."


In 2014 Patel took on yet another role, that of Justice of the Peace.

"In those six years I have had dealings with nearly 1500 people who I have enjoyed helping, both the young and the elderly."