In Loving Memory of
Sir Ashok J. Rabheru KCVO DL
Sir Ashok J. Rabheru KCVO DL died peacefully at home surrounded by loved ones on Friday 23rd December 2022. He was aged 70.
He was born on 6th April 1952 in Morogoro, Tanzania, to parents Jivraj Lavji Rabheru and Raliat Jivraj Rabheru. He was the second youngest child out of 10 siblings, 7 brothers and 3 sisters. They belonged to the prominent Lohana community.
His father, originally from Verawal in Gujarat, India, was a respected businessman and entrepreneur in the community. He always worked hard, cared for his family and strived for a better life – all traits that were very much inherited by Sir Ashok.
Sir Ashok was sent on his own to England in 1967, aged only 15 in the hope of having better opportunities, education and fleeing the dangers caused by political unrest in Tanzania. He had no money, didn’t speak English well and didn’t know anyone except his brother, C J Rabheru. Despite these inevitable obstacles, he graduated school in Richmond upon Thames, followed by Kingston College, where he met the love of his life, Harshida. They married in the summer of 1980 in Kenya.
Sir Ashok went on to study for a BSc in Physics at University College London. He continued as an academic for several years and obtained his M Phil (advanced postgraduate degree) in Applied Mathematics, at the Royal Holloway College, and later his Post Graduate Diploma in Computing at University College London (UCL).
Ashok Rabheru started his career in the IT industry and went on to found the Genisys Group, an IT software solutions and procurement company, in 1985. Since its modest beginnings, as a small five-person company in Woking, it has grown considerably and now has offices in 3 continents and employs over 1,000 staff.
As a prominent business leader, Ashok Rabheru accompanied Tony Blair on two business delegations: one to Bangalore in 2002 and, in 2005, to Beijing and New Delhi, at the EU-China and the EU-India Summits.
Despite the demands of running a successful IT business, Ashok still found time to support various charities.
Sir Ashok was a Trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award between 2000- 2010 and was a prominent member of the steering group for planning and raising funds for the 50th anniversary of the Award in 2006. Since 2010, he held the position of Chairman of the DoE UK and International Joint Funding Board. More recently he also worked tirelessly to assist in marking the centenary of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh and particularly to celebrate everything the Founder did to champion the infinite potential of young people. Sir Ashok was assisting HRH Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex with the launch of a three-year campaign, The Founder’s 100 Legacy Fund to raise awareness of the importance of non-formal education and learning for young people across the world, right up until his last days.
Sir Ashok was an active supporter of several charities, including Combat Stress, Debra and medical research institutions such as University College London and Imperial College together with ongoing work within the Asian community. He also took pride in supporting smaller local charities such as Heart of Bucks, Pace Centre, Wheel Power and Wexham Park neonatal unit, who cared for his family when his triplets were born prematurely. He never forgot his heritage by funding regular eye camps in Gujarat.
In recognition of his extensive charity work, in particular, his role as a Trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award he was awarded a CVO (Commander of the Victorian Order) in the 2011 New Year’s Honours List.
Ashok was also honoured with the crown appointment of Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the County of Buckinghamshire, as someone who had served the local community and had a history of public service in other fields.
As an alumnus of UCL, Sir Ashok was a dedicated advocate and supporter of UCL ever since his graduation in 1974. As an entrepreneur, business leader, supporter of opportunities for young people and committed global citizen, he shared UCL’s ethos of making a difference both locally and internationally. He was especially proactive in supporting UCL’s It’s All Academic Campaign in its focus on engaging and building UCL’s global community and was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from UCL in 2022.
Most significantly, in 2022, Ashok J Rabheru, was awarded the rare honour of a Knighthood in Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Birthday Honours List. He became Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in recognition of his work for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which he had supported in various capacities for over twenty-five years. Having his wife and triplets with him at his investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle in October 2022 was one of the proudest moments of his life.
Sir Ashok’s story is one of defying the odds and overcoming adversity. He always worked hard and never gave up. Even when he became a successful businessman, he always had his faith and commitment to helping those less fortunate than himself. He was generous with his time, wealth and knowledge; always encouraging people to do their best. He would go to great lengths to help a friend in need.
In the rare times when he was not working, spending time with his family or helping others, he was an enthusiastic cricket and football supporter and enjoyed playing golf.
Sir Ashok Rabheru, leaves behind his beloved wife of over 40 years, Harshida and his adult triplets, Nikita, Rishi and Shayan, of whom he was immensely proud of and loved dearly.
He will be deeply missed by all who knew him. Rest in peace Sir Ashok.
A memorial service to celebrate the life and legacy of Sir Ashok’s will be held in the Spring, details will be circulated nearer the time.