Entrepreneur in line for top Asian award

Sipra Deb
Sipra Deb
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DR Sipra Deb’s businessman father was kidnapped and murdered in India, but his humanitarian beliefs live on in her business venture, which encourages children to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Entrepreneur Dr Deb, a former teacher, is behind The Play Arena, one of the UK’s biggest play and entertainment centres. She already has a clutch of awards to her name, and now she has been named a finalist in the English Asian Business Awards 2013. They will honour the determination, hard work and personal achievements of England’s Asian business men and women. Thousands of nominations for the awards were received.

The event will be held on September 30 in Manchester. Yasmin Mahmood, operations director at event organisers Oceanic Consulting, said: “We would like to thank the public for the fantastic response we received. I would also like to congratulate all of the finalists. We have some truly inspiring individuals in all of our categories.”

Dr Deb spent 18 months searching for her father, Protul Deb, who was kidnapped during a business trip to Assam in March 2004. His family paid a £10,000 ransom, but Mr Deb was not released. Dr Deb, from Sheffield, clung to the hope he was still alive. She visited India three times, twice with officers from South Yorkshire Police, to try and uncover clues.

Finally, in September 2005, Dr Deb was told the remains of two men had been found in a forest on Assam’s border, and she travelled to India to identify her father’s body.

Dr Deb’s “herculean” efforts to find out her father’s fate earned tributes from politicians and the police.

Dr Deb has since been recognised for having transformed a former warehouse in Little London Road, Sheffield, into business success story, The Play Arena. She says her father’s values shaped the philosophy of the business.

Other finalists in the awards include Umar Khan, commercial finance manager at Leeds-based global hair products brand ghd, and the Aagrah group, which runs Indian restaurants in North and West Yorkshire.

The awards event will be raising money for The Well Foundation which uses funds to build wells, install hand pumps and establish health and sanitation programmes to provide accessible, clean water.