The Rt. Hon. Dr. Theresa May MP, Home Secretary received an honorary doctorate from the World Sikh University, London for her outstanding services to the Public at The British Sikh Association Annual Dinner at the London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London on 24th November 2014. The Home Secretary was the Chief Guest at the glittering event and the Guests of Honour were Admiral Sir George Zambellas KCB, DSC, ADC , DL, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff of the Royal Navy and Dr Virander Paul, Deputy Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. Mrs Tare Naidu of Air India, Mr. Rodger Broad of the IOD
Over 500 distinguished guests were in attendance including: Mr Richard Harrington MP, Member of Parliament for Watford & Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party; Baroness Sandip Verma of Leicester, Minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change; Lord Meghnad Desai of St. Clement Danes in the City of Westminster; Mr Tim Brawn, Director of Fundraising and Communications at the charity ‘Combat Stress’; Mr Ramniklal Solanki CBE, Founder & Editor in Chief of the Asian Media Marketing Group and Mr CB Patel, Chairman & Editor of Asian Business Publications Ltd ; Mr Manpreet Gulati, CEO of Lyca Health; Mrs Tara Naidu, Regional Manager of Air India UK and Mr Rodger Broad, Director at the Institute of Directors – South.
The event started with the Eternal Taal group who gave the guests a flavour of Punjab with an exceptional dhol drum performance. The illustrious Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines gave an uplifting two part performance and instilled a sense of pride for Britain in all those present.
Dr. Kapoor OBE, Secretary General of the British Sikh Association, in his introductory speech spoke on the history and the special relationship between the British and the Sikhs. Hundreds of thousands of Sikhs played a major role in both world wars, where 83,000 Sikh soldiers were killed and thousands injured and wounded. Sikhs were awarded for their bravery and gallantry in the two world wars. He described the Sikh community as loyal to their cause, honest to the task and truthful to their duties and are found in many responsible positions.
Dr. Kapoor’s introduction was followed by a moving video presentation on the history of the brave and gallant Sikhs in the First World War. The video was presented by Mr Matthew Ward and Ms Gill Fraser-Lee of History Needs You.
Dr. Rami Ranger MBE, Chairman of the British Sikh Association in his address reminded those present that it had been 100 years since the start of the First World War and of the Sikh involvement which changed the course of many battles and ultimately the outcome of the war, adding each Sikh is an ambassador for the teachings of the Gurus; the Sikh religion is based on the core principles of human freedom to liberate those who were being oppressed and suppressed in the name of their faith and without the supreme sacrifices of the Sikh Gurus and their followers, the history of India and the world would have been very different. He spoke of our moral duty to work for a united Britain and to build a cohesive society where we respect British values of tolerance, rule of law and respect for women, which are the very values that encapsulate the Sikh religion.
Guests were then shown a video presentation of the monumental Guru Nanak Darbar, a Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) that was opened in Dubai, UAE, the very first of its kind in an Arabian Gulf country. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and ruler of Dubai had himself authorised and allocated the land for the Gurudwara to be built.
Mr Surender Singh Kandhari, Chairman of the Guru Nanak Darbar, Dubai, UAE and Chairman of the Al-Dowobi Group, UAE was then presented the Sikh Jewel Award by the Rt. Hon. Dr. Theresa May MP, Home Secretary for his exceptional service, dedication and commitment to the Sikh Community. In his acceptance speech Mr Kandhari said that he was deeply honoured and humbled in receiving the prestigious award from the British Sikh Association and thanked the Sikh and Sindhi community in the UAE for their hard work, prayers and support in the blessed opening of the Gurudwara which was 11 years in the making through educating the rulers of the UAE of the history and spirit of the Sikh faith which recognises the human race as one.
Member of Parliament for Watford and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, Mr Richard Harrington MP, spoke of the similarities between the Sikhs and his own Jewish community, in particular the emphasis on charity and supporting worthy causes like Combat Stress. He finished by saying it was a huge pleasure to be invited to such a prestigious dinner and hoped to be invited again.
Deputy Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. Dr. Virander Paul paid tribute to the British Sikh community for excelling in all walks of life and becoming one of the most prominent ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom.
The Guest of Honour, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, KCB. DSC. ADC, DL, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff of the Royal Navy spoke of the many battles Sikh soldiers have fought shoulder to shoulder with the British armed forces and paid supreme sacrifices for our freedom. In recognition of the valour and contribution of the Sikhs, two Second World War destroyers had been named HMS Sikh and HMS Punjabi. He added that the Royal Navy is made up of 26 different religious groups who take up arms to defend and not to conquer, helping maritime trade flow more smoothly and had to helped Britain make a trade led recovery out of recession.
Baroness Sandip Verma of Leicester, Minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, said that she was proud to follow a faith that looked upon men and women equally in this world. She spoke about the teachings of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev ji, whose his message of sharing accumulated wealth with those who are less fortunate than us lives on today in the Gurudwara Langars (common kitchens), which are free to all people of all backgrounds and are run by volunteers.
A special Sikh Heritage Collection was presented to the Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP, by Mr Anthony Wainwright, President of the Hallmark Group. The limited edition set of 25 gold plated stamp ingots commemorates the remarkable impact the Sikhs have had on the world over their 500 year history.
Dr. Sukhbir S. Kapoor, Vice Chancellor of the World Sikh University, then bestowed upon the Home Secretary an honorary doctorate for her outstanding achivements in Public Service.
In her keynote speech, the Home Secretary, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Theresa May MP, spoke about the many acts of heroism of the Sikh soldiers during both the world wars where many have been given recognition with the Victoria Cross Medal, the highest award for gallantry in the British Military; she also asked the audience to remember the unsung heroes who have given us the freedoms we hold so dear today. She described Sikh soldiers as fearless and fearsome warriors who have held true to their faith and made an incalculable positive contribution to world history, boldly fighting injustice, tyranny and oppression. She stated that she was delighted to be at the dinner in celebration of British Sikhs who set a fine example for many people to follow.
Through the silent and live auctions during the dinner over £10,000 was raised in support of Combat Stress, the Veterans Mental Health Charity (www.combatstress.org.uk). A further £10,000 was donated to the charity by Executive Committee members of the British Sikh Association.
Dr. Manpreet Gulati, CEO of Lyca Health a new division of the event sponsors, the Lyca Group addressed the guests and gave an insight into the Lyca Groups diversified business strategies and rapid growth. He added that the Lyca Group shares its core fundamentals values with the Sikh faith and is deeply committed to corporate social responsibility initiatives that actively promote projects for needy communities, medical research and other projects connecting & empowering communities with the help of Lyca Radio 1458 and Lyca DilSe 1035.
In his Vote of Thanks, the Association’s Vice President, Dr. Ravi Gidar, thanked everyone present including the Executive Committee for putting together such a glittering dinner, Lyca Mobile, Lyca Media & Air India for their generous support and other corporations who had given their support.
During dinner guests were entertained by Steel Strum a Professional Guitar and Pan Duo.
The Audio & Visual services on the night were courtesy of Ritzy Music and the delicious food was provided by Ragamama Ragasaan.