Philanthropist Anita Choudhrie's charity Path to Success is backing female disabled athletes on their path to Tokyo 2020 and beyond.
Words by Jonathan Whiley
As a little girl in India, Anita Choudhrie used to bring home stray dogs.
It was the sign of her philanthropic endeavours to come.
Matriarch of one of India’s most eminent and wealthy UK-based families, Anita established Path to Success in 2005.
The charity focuses on helping disabled women in sport by “turning inability into ability”.
Tucked into a corner table at The Thomas Cubitt on Elizabeth Street, she says: “As a little girl, I used to bring homeless dogs home and look after them.
“My mother used to be so upset and she would tell me to keep them outside. But I would put them on a terrace or in the garden area and look after them.”
Helping the needy
Growing up in India, there was no television. So books, family and friends were Anita's priority.
Her grandfather was a doctor and something of an inspiration. He helped poorer people in the area by providing free medical treatment.
Now the Belgravia-based family presides over a global business empire that spans hotels, healthcare and aviation.
Most of Anita's energy is channelled into her charity.
It started as an umbrella charity, supporting other charities working on disabilities, education and homelessness.
But top of the list was children with mental disabilities.
The charity also launched its own appeal, donating wheelchairs to 60 NHS hospitals in 2012.
“A couple of young patients were in hospital, immigrants from needy homes, and they didn’t have the funds to leave the hospital because they needed a particular kind of specialised wheelchair,” Anita says.
“It was so wonderful to see this immigrant boy from South America leave the hospital and go home. He had been an extra six months in hospital because he didn’t have a wheelchair to leave.”
The charity’s campaign is 2019 initially aimed to support female disabled athletes on their path to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Funding for wheelchair basketball club London Titans has proved fruitful with 10 GB players from the club.
But Anita says: “There has to be more support for sports and especially women athletes and Paralympians, they don’t get enough.”
Anita is also keen to talk about her Stellar Arts Foundation, established in 2008.
Based on the family’s private collection, it has more than 800 works dating from the 19th century to the present day.
“I think art is as important as jewellery, which you always keep forever and you can pass it down as heirlooms.
“We want to start a museum and I think in the next two or three years it will happen in one of the hotel properties in India,” she says.
Anita has lived in Chester Square for the past seven years and her two sons, aged 41 and 37, are also in the neighbourhood.
“I love this area,” she says.
“I like it because it’s not modern like other parts of London. It’s quaint and I love that feeling of it being real England.”
Main picture: Copyright Charles Shearn.