A BUSINESSMAN named Asian of the Year in 2010 has been awarded the OBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours list.

John Athwal, 64, of Horton Road, Datchet, was recognised in 2010 for his contribution to the British economy though his business Premier Decorations which he established 30 years ago and now employs 84 permanent staff, rising to 250 in delivery season.

He began his business career as a trainee manager in a filling station. In the days when these generally only sold fuel, he recognised the potential of selling merchandise such as jackets, briefcases, garden accessories, bread and milk.

This business model proved so successful that the company ended up selling wholesale to 2,500 filling stations in the UK and he was invited to join the board of directors.

But it was travelling to factories in Taiwan to scout for Christmas decorations for ASDA that convinced Mr Athwal to found his own business, Premier Decorations Ltd – the UK’s first company to specialise in Christmas decorations.

His OBE is for his business and charity work. He spent 14 years on the fundraising committee for the Make a Wish Foundation which grants wishes to children and young people with life-threatening conditions. He also devotes time to The Fence Club for people in the toy industry which raises money for sick and disadvantaged children in the UK, in the role of treasurer and previously chairman.

In 2014 John took part in a 'sleepout' to raise awareness and money for Action for Children – a charity concerned with 100,000 or so children who sleep rough in the UK every year – and continues to work with children’s charities including the Loomba Foundation which educates 3,000 children in India and Silver Star, a diabetes charity.

He said: "I am overwhelmed to have been recognised and nominated by colleagues and peers. Life has not always been as easy as it is today; having arrived at the age of eight in the UK in 1961 with my parents from very humble beginnings in Punjab, I have embraced the opportunities this country has offered me, and it only feels right to give a little something back to society.”

He is looking forward to retiring and spending more time with his wife Jito and a family that includes three grandchildren.