On Sunday 14th February, Valentines Day 2021 a virtual meeting was held under the auspices of One Community Hampshire and Dorset and the Council of Southampton Sikh Gurdwara’s, that witnessed other BAME community leads from across the South Coast and beyond, academic experts, and representatives of all three of the armed forces (Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force), and the Chair of Hampshire FA. You can read more about the sculptor, Luke Perry at https://www.ochd.org.uk/sikh-memorial/ Bookmark the page for OCHD will post updates there on the project.
The meeting saw the steering group approve the final state design and advise a preferred location that the sculptor had studied in detail for appropriateness. In addition, enthusiastic approval was given for a multi-faith & beliefs, monoliths components, the importance of including narrative pan-South Asian, and broader BAME female community members that have made outstanding contributions to successful defence, and victory in the two world wars.
Accompanying the memorial once complete and formally unveiled, with our Armed Forces and Hampshire FA assisting on aspects of this historic event, will be educational resources, a book, and a documentary covering a number of history, society, and transcultural learning themes for the benefit of all generations and sections of society of local to national level educational value.
As such the statue to the legendary World War 1 hero, Hardit Singh Malik, the world’s first Royal Flying Corps (now the RAF) Sikh, turbaned fighter pilot, will be in fact, as everyone agreed emblematic for the broader Sikh contributions in the British armed forces of WW1 and WW2, with the greater narrative being told as has long been missing in British history, with Malik’s extraordinary accomplishments as a ‘touchstone’ for the whole Sikh community and other of its lesser-known heroes.
Some support quotes regarding this historic announcement:
I am truly overwhelmed by the striking beauty and power of this exceptional design of the memorial, which captures the spirit and endeavour of this great RAF fighter pilot, Hardit Singh Malik so well. It gives me great happiness to learn that the design is approved by the community, the Armed Forces, Hampshire FA, and academics. It is wonderful to see everyone coming together in support this historically important initiative with the creation of this wonderful public monument. I look forward to supporting the illustrious organisations and experts referred to, endeavours and collaboration to realise the fullest potential of this important project initiated by One Community Hampshire and Dorset in conjunction with the Council of Southampton Gurdwara’s.
Lord Rami Ranger CBE
Chairman of the British Sikh Association, and Chief Patron of One Community Hampshire and Dorset
I am absolutely delighted with the final design. This is an historic project involving all our BAME communities across the South Coast and beyond who are looking forward to supporting the City of Culture 2025, Southampton bid. This project certainly speaks for itself; strongly furthering Community Cohesion and Integration, and testifying to the major contribution our Sikh and broader ethnic minority communities to our country, as we live in such a vibrant multicultural society here in Southampton. The project will benefit both our current and future generations historically, and also our local economy. I am proud to be leading this project with our OCHD Team & experts, and the Council of Southampton Gurdwara’s.
CEO, Director One Community Hampshire and Dorset
‘This historic project brings huge significance to our communities supporting our society and is very much overdue. All Sikhs in Southampton feel very proud that the OCHD initiative in conjunction with the Council of Southampton Gurdwara’s, is going ahead, and we thank Southampton City Council for supporting this and thereby recognising the contribution made by our Sikh soldiers and veterans in the two World Wars. We also are very proud that the world is not only going to be witnessing the Sikh memorial, but also in conjunction with this, those of other faiths and beliefs that also contributed so much in both those wars.
The Council of Southampton Gurdwara’s, Gurdwara Nanaksar, President Sukhdev Singh, Chairman Harjap Singh (also Co-Founder of OCHD); General Secretary, Saranjit Singh, Gurcharan Singh, Trustee (Singh Sabha Gurdwara); Vice President, Raspal Singh, General Secretary, Surinder Singh (Gurdwara Tegh Bahardur Sahib); General Secretary, Tarsem Singh (Gurdwara Ravidas); and Bharpoor Singh (COSG, and OCHD Secretary)
This much needed memorial will have truly national level educational and 21st Century multicultural and diverse communities respecting Britain, significance.
This in particular because Hardit Singh Malik not only being the first Sikh community member and BAME pilot, but a major UK level pioneer for our BAME communities inclusion and equality, as his story involved successfully challenging the racial exclusion notions of the day, with his appointment as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps. History will judge that Malik was a true giant in what he achieved in regard to ending race-related segregationist perspectives and practices in our British armed forces in the WW1 era.
OCHD Co-Founder and Director, and CEO of the UK Nepal Friendship Society
I am honoured to be a part of this team. Monuments such as this are a vital part of the fight for equal representation. These artworks are long overdue thanks and recognition to the communities from around the world who have supported Britain in its past and continue to do so in vital roles not just in the armed forces but our health care and every aspect of modern life. We are a beautiful and diverse nation, our artworks as with all things should reflect this.
Commissioned Memorial Sculptor (Southampton)
The public statue of Hardit Singh Malik embodies the spirit of inclusivity — representing the will to ‘breaking the glass ceiling’ at the intersection of two World Wars and minority enrolment in the RAF: a significant feat for an Indian at the time.
Dr Sanjukta Ghosh
Artistic Director of SOAS’ South Asia Institute, One Community Hampshire and Dorset Community Strategic Engagement Advisor
Hampshire FA are honoured and proud to be involved in the Sikh Memorial Project in conjunction with One Community Hampshire and Dorset and the Council of Southampton Gurdwara’s.
Through our clubs and leagues, we have the opportunity to raise awareness of the important role that Sikhs, and other diverse community soldiers played in both World Wars, and with the huge number of children playing football in our county, it will prove to be a vital education tool as well. The whole project fits very well with the Inclusion and Diversity work that Hampshire FA are undertaking.
Chairman – Hampshire FA
I welcome this initiative by One Community Hampshire and Dorset in conjunction with the Council of Southampton Gurdwara’s to remember and recognise the considerable contribution made by members of the BAME community during times of national need.
It is rightly fitting Hardit Malik Singh is the model for this lasting tribute to the bravery and dedication of the thousands from across the Commonwealth who gave of themselves. This is a memorial that will not only recognise the troops, but remember their families back home who endured the uncertainty of having loved ones serve so many miles away.
Former Hampshire Police & Crime Commissioner
“The Royal Navy’s Attract and Engagement Team are delighted to support One Community Hampshire & Dorset (OCHD) organisation and the Council of Southampton Gurdwara’s (Sikh Temples) initiative, to unveil a memorial that signifies the breaking down of cultural boundaries, both within the military and wider society, and that recognises the contribution of multiple faiths and communities in protecting our nation, whilst working collaboratively to ensure our liberty and freedom.
We look forward to working with the OCHD in achieving its aim and to encouraging people of all faiths to embrace the opportunity to reflect, learn and educate themselves, and others, of the sacrifices made.”
Lt Cdr R J Haines RN | Attract & Engagement Team | Greater London and South East
The One Community Hampshire And Dorset memorial project dedicated to Hardit Malik Singh, is initiated in conjunction with the Council of Southampton Gurdwara’s, is a worthy and wonderful historical depiction of a WWI veteran.
From my region Headquarters South West, we the Army, would wish to support you whenever we are able. We hope to build the narrative with you and share events that promote both the memorial and Hardit Malik Singh legacy, you have earmarked for 2023 and raise awareness of your Army. We hope to share a collaborative approach, embracing and embedding our relationship with you and the wider Sikh community, but also the other communities you closely work with.
Major C J P Hart BA(Hons) MBA | SO2 Engagement-Communities
Your Royal Air Force prides itself on its professional personnel and this is why we continue to work towards a fully diverse and Inclusive workforce to reflect the society we serve. To recognise the contributions made from all of our communities to the Armed Forces is important to us.
The sheer tenacity shown in the First and Second World Wars from the Men and Women of India is something to be remembered. This is why the project of One Community Hampshire And Dorset in conjunction with the Council of Southampton Gurdwara’s is important and something we are eager to follow and support where we can.
As part of the Specialist Engagement Team we work very closely with our diverse communities UK wide, and projects like the Sikh Memorial Southampton allow not only a platform for Remembrance but to learn from our rich history.
A Khan MSt J, MSc, BA(Hons)
Chief of Staff Special Engagement Team
RAF rep for the Armed Forces Muslim Association
OCHD is also delighted to share that, through the greatly appreciated support of its Chair, Mr Russell Bahar, the Asian – Jewish Business Network (AJBN) is also supporting the memorial initiative because of the project’s vision and guiding multicultural and educational values and perspectives.
A communication has been provided to the Leader of Southampton City Council (receipt already acknowledged) regarding the final state, chosen design and advised placement, and including reference to the exceptional value the memorial will add to Southampton’s bid for City of Culture status in 2025. OCHD is very pleased to announce that a meeting with Southampton City Council has been arranged for later this month.
End — Notes to the Editor:
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