Category Archive: Uncategorized

  1. PM awards outstanding British Sikh history champion

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    The Prime Minister has today, 23 September, recognised Jay Singh-Sohal, from Royal Sutton Coldfield, for his exceptional service commemorating Sikh contributions to the British Armed Forces.

    Jay led the successful campaign to create the UK’s only memorial to the more than 120,000 Sikh soldiers who fought during the First World War. Jay, who is an Army Reserve Captain, also works with the British Army to commemorate Sikh contributions to the British Armed Forces on Saragarhi Day, every September. The Battle of Saragarhi saw 21 Sikh soldiers fight for the British Indian Army and defend the North-West Frontier with Afghanistan against 10,000 enemy forces in 1897. While the battle has long been commemorated in India by the Indian Army, Jay was inspired to bring commemorations to the UK to serve as an opportunity to engage British Sikhs with their heritage and celebrate continued Sikh contributions to the British military today.

    Jay is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements. He was presented with his award by the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street (see left).

    In a personal letter to Jay, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

    “I know you do this with no thought of praise or reward, but allow me to offer my own recognition of how you have created our country’s first memorial to the 120,000 brave Sikh soldiers who fought during the First World War. It is fitting that we honour their enormous courage and sacrifice in ensuring the freedoms we all enjoy today.”


    Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said:

     “I have known Jay for around three years now. He is hugely passionate about our Armed Forces and the historical contribution of Sikh soldiers in WW1 and WW2. This has led to the creation of the permanent Sikh WW1 memorial at the National Arboretum and has significantly raised the profile of the Battle of Saragarhi. He is extremely well deserving of this honour and I am pleased his work has been recognised by the Prime Minister.”


    Jay said:

     “I’m delighted to be receiving a Points of Light award from the Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Telling the story of shared British Sikh history through the battle of Saragarhi has been a fantastic journey working with wonderful people with the same enthusiasm for our heritage. It continues to inspire many more to serve our country in whichever way they can. I’m proud of the part I’ve been able to play in driving grassroots community activity in this way. It’s important to me, as it creates better understanding between diverse communities and gives young people confidence and encouragement in seeking to achieve their goals. I hope my award encourages many others to do the same.”

    Jay is the 1244th winner of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA. Over 6,000 Points of Light have been awarded in the USA, and former Presidents have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK. There is a similar cross-party approach to the UK programme and MPs from different parties often present their constituents with their Points of Light awards.

    Regardless of whether it’s a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Points of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.

    Notes to Editors

    1. The Points of Light awards recognise outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.
    2. The Prime Minister makes daily announcements of the winners to celebrate, encourage and promote volunteering and the value that it brings to the country.
    3. If people know someone who could be a Point of Light they should write to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street.
    4. Website:



  2. Viscount Slim II

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    It was with deep sadness that we heard the news of the death of Viscount Slim II.

    Viscount Slim with Jay Singh-Sohal

    The Viscount was a friend and supporter of our work, and gave a rare interview to our team (image left with filmmaker Capt. Jay Singh-Sohal) for the docu-drama “Saragarhi: The True Story”.

    Born in India in 1927, John Slim went on to lead the Gurkhas in WW2 before commanding the SAS. He later became a life peer in the House of Lords.

    He was kind to speak to our team about the frontier battle, India and the Sikh martial traditions. Indeed he was being interviewed because it was his knowledge and awareness of Saragarhi, which he often shared with Sikhs he met, that enabled the story to be brought back to the attention of the community.

    It was an invaluable insight that we hope will continue to inspire people to serve.

    We send our condolences to his family and loved ones.

  3. GNG Smethwick partner with Armed Forces

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    Brigadier Richard J. Carter, Commanding Officer of 11th Signal Brigade at Guru Nanak Gurdwara (GNG) in Smethwick with its President, Jatinder Singh, (left) posing with their newly signed Armed Forces Covenant.

    Corporal Mark Larner RLC

    The Commander of the Army in the West Midlands has met with leaders of the Sikh community in Smethwick where they put pen to paper to sign the Armed Forces Covenant, formally recognising the strong ties between the Sikh community and the Armed Forces.

    Brigadier Richard Carter, Commander HQ 11th Signal and West Midlands Brigade, said: “A diverse military is a strong military which is why we’re committed to making sure the Army in the West Midlands better represents the society we serve. This Covenant signing is yet another demonstration of this.

    “Sikhs have a rich history with the Army, from their unsurpassed courage at the Battle of Saragarhi over 120 years ago, to the hundreds of thousands of Sikhs who fought for Britain during the First and Second World Wars as symbolised by the wonderful Lions of the Great War statue in Smethwick. We look forward to working with Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick to ensure that tradition continues.”

    170 Sikhs currently serve in the Royal Navy, Army and the Royal Air Force, with many more around the UK serving as Reservists. The British Sikh report published last year found that 69% of Sikhs would support their child taking a career to defend the nation.

    Jatinder Singh, President of Guru Nanak Gurdwara (GNG) Smethwick, said: “Guru Nanak Gurdwara is embarking on an ambitious vision that we hope will set us aside as a flagship centre for inspirational community projects and innovate partnerships.

    “This vision is fuelled by our desire to create a learning environment for Sikh generations in UK to become strong role models for supporting their community and wider society and through the message advocated by our Gurus perform social action with humility that benefits all mankind.

    “This partnership through the Armed Forces Covenant shows our clear commitment to building relationships between our community and military personnel with their families as well as creating opportunities for the military to understand more about the Sikh way of life so it can better impart cultural knowledge to its personnel. The WW1 Sikh statue is one such example of this.

    “We also look forward to exploring through our ambitious youth leadership programme, how we better equip future generations of British Sikhs to serve their community and nation. And subsequently provide opportunities for members of our congregation to find out more about training and career opportunities in a wide variety of careers including the uniformed services.”

    Captain J Singh-Sohal, a member of the GNG Smethwick’s Education Board said: “It’s so important that institutions such as our Gurdwaras engage with their Armed Forces and create a better working relationship with one another. By signing the Armed Forces Covenant, GNG Smethwick is committing to a strategic partnership that will provide character and leadership development opportunities for Sikhs in the West Midlands while also educating those who serve about our faith and practices. It codifies and gives direction to a community already committed to serving our country, and I hope many more faith-based organisations will follow this lead to develop pledges in support of co-operation between the wider military community and those it works to protect.”

  4. Saragarhi Day in Southall

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    From London District British Army Facebook page

    Image may contain: 2 people, outdoor


    The Public thronged to witness colourful displays and moving dramas at a spectacular interactive event at Southall Army Reserve Centre held to commemorate one of the proudest days in Sikh history, the Battle of Saragarhi. And two special visitors in particular summed up the spirit of Saragarhi – the determination to win against the odds. In a significant homecoming, Local Sikh Captain Brijinder Nijjar, who first dreamed of becoming a Army helicopter pilots while growing up down the road from the Southall Gudwara, flew in today in a British Army Apache Attack Helicopter – living proof that dreams really can come true. He was met on landing by his brother Lieutenant Harmeet Nijjar who is also currently training to be an Army Air Corps pilot. They and other Sikh service personnel spent the day offering inspiration and honest encouragement to visiting youngsters and their families, many of whom admitted they knew very little about the world class training and professional qualifications offered by the British Army.

    Harmeet Nijjar said: “It can’t be the case that we are the only two people from our community who are good enough to join the Army. That’s just not true. There are a lot more out there. This is your army and everyone should know what opportunities are available.”

    Brijinder Nijjar said people are surprised when he tells them he is an Army pilot. “The British Army is a home for everybody, no matter what kind of background you are from.” And he added: “I have gone from a young boy in West London to now on the verge of being a fully qualified frontline Apache attack helicopter pilot. I think that is a massive win for social mobility. The fact you can take somebody from any background and bring them to the front of a completely new area is just brilliant and more people should be encouraged to do it.”

    In commemoration of the battle of Saragarhi visitors learned about the 21 Sikh soldiers who took part in the famous “last stand” against 10,000 Afghan tribesmen in 1897. The modern day Sikh Service personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force explained how they use the story of their forebears as daily inspiration in all that they do in service of our country. Celebrating our shared history and heritage is an important part of what binds military personnel serving today, giving them an enhanced sense of purpose and belonging.

  5. New Saragarhi school resource to ensure children taught about Sikh contribution to Britain

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    As the school year begins, a new education resource for teachers based around an epic British Indian frontier battle is being published in the UK, to ensure the historic contribution made by Sikhs fighting for Britain is taught in classrooms.

    “Saragarhi: Sikhs and their contribution to Britain” has been developed with school teachers and educators who say there are not enough resources available for pupils to learn about the different faiths who fought and served Great Britain during Empire.

    The school resource, containing films and lesson plans, is designed for use in classes on history, citizenship and religious education. It focuses on the battle of Saragarhi, which took place on the 12th September 1897, to educate Key Stage 3 and 4 level children about Sikhs and Sikhism.

    Writer and filmmaker Capt. J. Singh-Sohal launched “Saragarhi Day” in Britain and has extensively written, researched and made a film about the battle which forms a part of the school resource. He said: “Throughout our work over the past decade we have found parents frustrated that the Indian contribution is not taught in schools and teachers with an interest in this field unable to connect with the relevant authoritative resources to include these subjects in their lessons. I felt it therefore necessary to utilise our research and productions into Saragarhi to create an educational pack so that pupils can get a better understanding of Sikhs, Sikhism and our strong connection to Britain.”

    The pack is edited by Sikh lecturer and writer Harjinder Singh, who said: “This is an essential resource for teachers and educators working in the fields of history and community cohesion. It cuts across many curriculum areas and will enrich learning for children in schools and out of school activities such as summer camps and informal educational activities. It brings to light, the themes of military service, heroism, loyalty and the politics of identity and colonialism, creating debate and developing critical thinking.”

    Ms Tejinder Rajput, Psychology Lead Practitioner at Dwight School of London said: “This educational pack provides a fresh perspective. Such golden historical events are hidden from the main national curriculum. The pack has built cross curricular links between citizenship, history and religious education. It is a must-have for teachers to include in their curriculum design and will definitely liven up classrooms!”

    Saragarhi is an ideal example of Indian heroism to use to show the bravery and valour of those from the subcontinent. During the battle, 21 soldiers of the 36th (Sikh) Regiment of the Indian Army under the British found themselves surrounded by 10,000 enemy tribesmen during an uprising on the North West Frontier between colonial India and Afghanistan (in modern day Pakistan).

    Instead of surrendering the brave 21 fought to the last man despite the odds, in an engagement lasting more than six hours but with limited ammunition. Their heroism became an overnight sensation and was honoured by the British who built several memorials to them including in Amritsar and awarded those who died a posthumous Indian Order of Merit – then the highest gallantry award available to native Indians, and on par with the Victoria Cross.

    With Indian independence in 1947, the battle honours and Saragarhi commemorations transferred to the Indian Army. But more recently there has been a revival of remembering and marking Saragarhi with the British Army hosting a Saragarhi “beacon event” each year since 2013 to remember the battle and the contribution of Sikhs in it.

    The education resource contains teacher lesson plans and factual information about the battle, as well as the ground-breaking film “Saragarhi: The True Story”. It has been made possible with funding support from the Armed Forces Covenant, and will help assist in teaching history, citizenship and religious education to children at Key State 3 and 4.

    The resource is available for free for school teachers via this website.

  6. Legacy of Valour launch

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    British Armed Forces Sikhs have attended the launch of the Legacy of Valour exhibition at Khalsa Primary School Slough. Here they are alongside local MP Tan Dhesi.


  7. Punjab Restaurant signs Armed Forces Covenant

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    Congratulations to Punjab Restaurant Covent Garden for signing the Armed Forces Covenant alongside MOD representative Commodore Duncan Lamb. They’ve supported us at our events and commemorations including Saragarhi and WW1 Sikh Memorial with catering. Thanks for all you do!