Canonbury shopkeeper who fought armed raiders

Brave Ashok Patel received a community award after horrific attack while manning his store

Friday, 25th October 2019 — By Emily Finch

Ashok Patel and wife

Ashok Patel with wife Lalita

A PROUD shopkeeper who bravely fought off a knife attack and dedicated his life to serving his local community by keeping his corner shop open every day of the year has died.

Ashok Patel, owner of Lena Stores in Canonbury, passed away on October 4. He was just five days shy of turning 70 years old.

Mr Patel faced a horrific attack while manning his store in Ferntower Road when three men robbed him and one of them knifed him in the head in 2012.

He bravely fought off his attackers but was eventually overpowered after he tripped on the floor.

While recovering in hospital, Mr Patel was showered with cards and flowers as his loyal customers became outraged when they learned how a hardworking and innocent man was brutally attacked.

His family say he was incredibly proud to receive a community award from Islington Council who recognised him for his bravery.

Despite his family asking him if he wanted to shut up shop and move away after the attack, he was determined to carry on as normal and refused to be cowed.

“He said that we could not be afraid of the little people who attacked him,” said Mr Patel’s son, Rajnikant.

Mr Patel faced huge adversity during his early years when his family were expelled from Uganda during the mass expulsions of Asians from the East African country in 1971.

They had been firmly middle class, running a soap powder factory and a cinema but had to start again in Gujarat, West India, where Mr Patel started his new life as a farmer.

He worked exhausting, long hours cultivating rice and tobacco. But he still cherished his time in India as he was surrounded by his friends and extended family.

He also said he had more spare time as a farmer compared to his life as a shopkeeper in London where he was dedicated to keeping his shop open for 13 hours a day, every day of the year.

Mr Patel came to England with his 17-year-old son in 1987 to join his brother who had started a new life in London as a shopkeeper. After a few years of helping his brother, Mr Patel decided to take over Lena Stores in 1998 with his son.

He was so dedicated to keeping the shop open every day for his customers that he continued working behind the counter until just a few days before he died from cancer.

“He was a good man, a family man. He looked after everyone in his family always sending money back to India,” said Rajnikant.

His most treasured moments in life were spending time with his family and eating meals with them especially if they were tucking into his favourite meal of fish and chips.

Mr Patel’s dream was to retire in Gujarat and lead a peaceful and quiet life there.

His family are now planning to disperse his ashes in his beloved village there in December.

Ashok Patel died on October 4. He leaves behind his wife of 50 years, Lalita Patel, and his son Rajnikant Patel and numerous other family members.

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