Sunday, 16 October 2011

British Legion salutes Sikh heroes

Resham Singh Sandhu, praises the Royal British Legions decision to adopt the Khanda for the Poppy Appeal.


The sacrifices of Sikhs who have stood alongside British troops in conflicts around the world are to be recognised in this year's Poppy Appeal.

The Royal British Legion in Leicestershire is to introduce a Sikh khanda to its range of wooden remembrance emblems when it launches its appeal later this month.

The khanda (pictured, right) will join the Christian cross, the Jewish Star of David and the Muslim Crescent which have been introduced in recent years.

The khanda, made up of a solid circle, two interlocked swords and a double-edged sword, will be on sale alongside poppies and the other wooden emblems.

Jennifer Leach, the Legion's community fund-raiser in Leicestershire and Rutland, said: "We have had representations from the Sikh community nationally and locally and we felt it was time to produce the khanda.

"We are very happy to be able to mark the sacrifices which have been made by Sikh soldiers who have fought and died in the British Army."

Resham Singh Sandu, the High Sheriff of Leicestershire and the first Sikh to hold the post, said he was delighted to hear of the new Poppy Appeal emblem.

Mr Singh Sandu, who is also chairman of the Sikh Cultural and Welfare Society, said: "This is a wonderful way to celebrate the bravery of all the Sikh soldiers who have served the British Army with such distinction.

"It is no more than their bravery deserves. They have stood shoulder to shoulder with the British for years."

He said his father, Sohel Singh, served in the British Indian Army and was on the frontline on the Egyptian border during the First World War.

"He was a real hero and carried an injured colleague on his shoulder for seven miles from the front to the medical area," said Mr Singh Sandhu.

"A bullet went through his ear and turban, but he survived. He was given the Indian Order of Merit."

Last year's Poppy Appeal, marking the Legion's 90th birthday year, raised £525,161 in Leicestershire alone.It was the first time the appeal had broken the £500,000 mark.

The total was 10 per cent up on the previous year's £476,150.

The total raised in Rutland last year was £38,122 – seven per cent up on the previous year's £35,509.

Miss Leach said: "We had a brilliant time last year and it would be amazing if we could top that figure.

"What we need as well as people to be generous and giving are volunteers to help out in Leicester city centre and the Highcross.

"We raised £25,000 in two weeks there and we think we could double that if we get more volunteers."

The appeal launches on Saturday, October 29.

On Saturday, November 5, the Leicester Tigers Poppy Match will take place at Welford Road, followed by the Leicestershire and Rutland Festival of Remembrance at Leicester Cathedral that evening.

The next day, Sunday, November the 6, the Leicester City FC Poppy Match will take place at the King Power Stadium.

At 11am on November 11, the country will hold a minute's silence to mark the moment the major hostilities of the First World War ended.

Remembrance Sunday is on November 13.

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