An 80-year-old woman is “delighted” to be nominated for an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for helping elderly immigrant women and children in the UK and India.

Vilas Dhanani, from Stanmore, says she became aware that elderly Asian women were “struggling to integrate” after she moved to the UK from Kenya in 1972.

She noticed that many of these women seemed “lonely” as they did not speak English and so she decided to help by setting up informal groups for these women to explain the transport system and how councils work, as well as encouraging them to learn English.

The group then formally became known as the Shravika Satsang Mandal organisation in 1974.

As the organisation grew to serve more than 100 women in the North London area, Ms Vilas trained in yoga and reflexology so that she could do more to help women’s health.

Once qualified, she set up training sessions and eventually trained more than 500 women as therapists themselves.

Over the years, Ms Vilas has raised between £10,000 and £15,000 each year for charities, which has totalled more than £400,000 over the last 40 years.

The money has gone to charities including Jyoti Hospital, blind rehab centres, abandoned women and the poorest children in Gujarat India, along with the Sangat-Social support group in the UK.

As well as routinely collecting clothes, shoes, household and educational materials for direct distribution to those in need in India, Kenya, Gambia, Ms Vilas also arranged for a special cargo collection for the Philippines following the destructive typhoon.

She said: “I am extremely honoured and excited to have been put forward as a MBE. I never imagined that the work I’ve done could come to this.

“I have always wanted to help women and children, particularly those in the most in need and in helpless situations. Happiness comes from being able to do something worthwhile.”

Patricia Black, a senior lecturer at St Mark's Hospital, in Harrow, has also been honoured for her services to Stoma Care Nursing.

Mary Clancy Senco, a co-ordinator at St Gregory’s Catholic Science College, in Harrow, has received recognition for services to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.