Tributes have been paid to Labour peer Lord Adam Patel of Blackburn, who died on Wednesday aged 78.
MP Keith Vaz described the Gujarati-born father of eight, who was made a life peer in 2000, as “Labour’s northern rock”.
Rashid Mogradia, of The Council of British Hajjis, described him as “a formidable businessman and a community champion”.
The peer’s funeral has been held in Blackburn.
Lord Patel, known locally as Lord Adam, came to Blackburn in the 1960s to study accountancy at Blackburn College after graduating from the University of Baroda in Gujarat State, India.
The town’s former MP, Jack Straw, a former foreign secretary, said he had no hesitation in nominating him for a peerage, adding: “I’ll never forget his joy, and that of his family, when he was formally ennobled in February 2000.”
He said Lord Patel was “wise, very intelligent, replete with integrity, and completely committed to honouring his faith and to making Britain a better place for everyone”.
Lord Patel served as director of the East Lancashire Training Enterprise Council, president of Lancashire Council of Mosques, vice-president of the Blackburn Community Relations Council and chairman of The Council of British Hajjis, which looks after the interests of Muslims going on pilgrimage to Mecca.
Keith Vaz said: “Adam Patel’s life embodies the very essence of the journey taken by so many British Asians since their arrival in the UK.
“He was Labour through and through but also kept his deep roots in the British Muslim community of the north-west even after he entered the House of Lords.
‘Loyal and strong’
“His desire to help everyone who needed it frustrated his large family circle who had to cope with people visiting his home well after midnight.
“He was loyal, devoted to family, strong and dedicated to his causes.”
Dame Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, said Lord Patel was a “great man.”
The MP, who worked with him when she was leader of Lancashire County Council in the 1980s and 90s, added: “Adam was a tireless advocate for the community.”
Providing halal meat in schools and ensuring Muslim burial requirements were respected were two of his many achievements.