AWARD-WINNING Inverclyde entrepreneur Poonam Gupta has received the OBE in the New Year Honours, and spoke today of her “surprise and delight”.

Mrs Gupta, who lives in Kilmacolm and is chief executive of PG Paper, has been honoured for services to business and charity.

She and her husband, Puneet, who is the company’s chief operating officer, have raised more than half-a-million pounds for charities – including going on a four-day rickshaw race through remote Indian jungles.

PG Paper is based at Greenock Custom House and operates in 53 countries across five continents.

It employs 20 people in Greenock, where it is still recruiting, and others in England, India and Finland.

The company has twice won Greenock Chamber of Commerce Bee’s Knees awards.

Established in 2003, it acts as a ‘middle man’ for many companies by sourcing and supplying paper and other products, including plastic, metal and oil.

Mrs Gupta, 40, a former Scottish Asian businesswoman of the year, said she was ‘extremely pleased’ to receive the OBE.

She said: “This is a great way to start the New Year. It was a great surprise to me and like a dream come true.

“I am truly humbled and delighted to receive this honour. Helping charities is very close to my heart and a big part of my life. I do my best wherever I can.

"People in Inverclyde and Scotland are very charitable.”

Poonam and Puneet, who was named businessman of the year 2016 at the Scottish Asian Business Awards, both pictured, sponsor the annual Action for Children Scotland Sports Dinner and have two young children, Saanvi, 11 and nine-year-old Aanya.

Last year’s event featured jockey Sir AP McCoy.

It raised over £91,000 in aid of children, young people and families in Scotland, bringing the total since 2009 to almost £550,000.

Previous star names have included snooker star Steve Davis, boxers Frank Bruno and Joe Calzaghe and former Scotland football manager Craig Brown.

The Guptas’ 500km rickshaw race was not quite so straightforward, but they survived a series of near-misses on their way to finishing first.

The event was launched by Prince Charles at Clarence House to raise funds to save Asia’s endangered elephants.

On the first day the motorised rickshaw, known as a tuk tuk, suffered a high-speed blow-out and only luck prevented them from crashing into a ditch at 65km an hour.

Barely an hour later, having replaced the front tyre, they suffered another blow-out, once again only narrowly avoiding injury.
Several other competitors among the 35 teams had not been so fortunate.

Puneet said: “I have been to India hundreds of times on business, but I had never seen this side of it.

“We met some amazing people, including many locals. Some of them work full time for as little as 30p a day, yet their constant smiles and good-natured curiosity left us feeling humble.”

Poonam raises money for orphanages in India and is closely involved with The Scottish Circle, a group of women living in Scotland who are supporting women’s empowerment worldwide, and she also supports a cancer charity in India.

She said: “I have adopted two children in India who are the same age as my children. I have taken my children to an orphanage in India so that they can see what it is like there and help them understand how privileged they are. It’s important that they should understand they should help others who are not so fortunate.”

The charitable couple are inspired by Puneet’s father, former Inverclyde Royal eye consultant Dr Sadhu Gupta, who travels regularly to India and other countries with his ‘eye camp’ to restore sight to poor people.

Poonam said: “Bringing back sight is one of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone.”