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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 achievements 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.
Vote of Thanks was presented by the Association’s Vice President, Dr. Ravi Gidar.