A councillor and solicitor who credits his grandfather for teaching him to use his brains to help others has been made an MBE.

Aged just 33, Pranav Bhanot has combined work as one of the youngest parish councillors in Chigwell with starting a consumer advice website using his expertise as a solicitor.

He has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours in the year of Her Majesty’s platinum jubilee.

Read More: 

Cllr Bhanot said: “The honour just means a huge amount. I recently lost my grandad a few weeks ago and I learned about serving the community from him.

“I learned about using our brains to help others. The jubilee just makes it more special.”

Locally, Cllr Bhanot invited more than 2,500 people to join the WhatsApp messaging groups for their streets in Redbridge and Epping Forest, along with four area-specific Facebook communities.

He said: “It was done before the pandemic, but it became vital. It took a bit of effort but it was worthwhile when you saw people getting medicine or legal advice. We just knocked on doors and asked if people wanted to join.”

The messaging platforms pass a combined average of 1,620 messages per day to allow vulnerable and isolated residents to feel a sense of community and help in providing useful intelligence in tackling burglaries and anti-social behaviour.

Epping Forest Guardian: The Queen's birthday honours recognise service to the people of the country (image - PA)The Queen's birthday honours recognise service to the people of the country (image - PA)

A Conservative, Cllr Bhanot was elected as the youngest Chigwell parish councillor in 2019 and within a year was made chairman of the council.

Managing his council role during the pandemic was a challenge but Cllr Bhanot says it was always rewarding.

Another pre-pandemic effort which paid off during lockdown was consumer advice website The Wedding Lawyer, with which Mr Bhanot used his legal expertise as a solicitor to provide support for people planning weddings.

He said: “A lot of people had to cancel their plans and there was a lack of support, so we helped them navigate the cancellations.

“We used social media and calls to get the messaging out so couples don’t have to pay the legal fees and can still manage to get a good portion of their money back.”