Prime Minister Presented Sikh Soldier Portrait At 10 Downing St

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Prime Minister Presented Sikh Soldier Portrait To Remember Service and Sacrifice of Indians During WW1

Capt. Jay Singh-Sohal and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been presented with a special portrait of a Sikh soldier at an event in 10 Downing Street to celebrate the contribution of Sikhs to Britain during the occasion of Vaisakhi.

The portrait was of the WW1 Sikh Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum and was presented by the memorial charities Chairman Capt. Jay Singh-Sohal in gratitude for Mr Sunak’s pioneering position as the first British Prime Minister of Indian origin, which is an inspiration to people from all diverse backgrounds.

Capt Jay Singh-Sohal said: “I wanted to thank Rishi for all he has done and continues to do for our country and thought no better sign of gratitude than the image of the Sikh soldier – one representative of our shared British and Sikh heritage, and the continued service of Indians in uniform in Britain today.  I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to invite Rishi to visit the monument depicted in the artwork at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire when he might next have opportunity to visit.”

The portrait is a miniature of a larger-scale painting by Shropshire artist Lisa Pitchford, who was moved to paint the memorial by the stories of service and sacrifice made by Sikh soldiers during the World Wars after visiting the National Memorial Arboretum, and seeing the depiction of the Sikh soldier.

Lisa says: “I was deeply moved by the breathtaking sculptures, tributes, and stories and was inspired to capture some of them in my work. In particular, I was drawn to the nobility of the ‘WW1 Sikh Memorial’, erected to honour the bravery and sacrifice of the 124,245 Sikh soldiers who fought in the Great War.”

What followed was a devotion to capturing the Sikh soldier in art form, Lisa spent more than 70 hours on the work paying meticulous attention to detail, working in both ink & watercolour pen and layering 20 colours to produce a portrait that has an almost 3D quality.

The WW1 Sikh Memorial was created in 2015 and unveiled that year by the current head of the British Army, Chief of the General Staff General Sir Patrick Sanders KCB CBE DSO, who said at the time that “the record of service of courage and sacrifice of Sikhs during the First World War is really second to none.”

The memorial was the first of its kind – a statue commemorating the bravery and sacrifice of Sikh soldiers during the conflict. The Sikh contribution is remarkable, as despite being only 1% of the Indian population at the time, they constituted 20% of the Indian Army under the British, and were represented in over a third of the regiments at the time.  For their heroism, Sikhs received 29% of all Indian Orders of Merit awarded during the war and 24% of all Indian Distinguished Service Medals.

In 2016, the WW1 Sikh Memorial was recognized at the prestigious “Remember WW1″ awards winning the category prize for “Remembering the Fallen: War Memorials, Graves and Gardens.”


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