Around the year 2000 Manjit Kang and Tim Bhullar had a conversation about how we needed a memorial for the Sikh Soldiers who died fighting for Great Britain during both World Wars. His father served in the army and I heard a remark made by someone during the Remembrance Day Service in Greenhead Park.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE MARCHING AT THE REMEMBRANCE DAY?”
That hit a nerve and we both decided that we had to do something that would educate people in this country about the fact that, not only Sikhs, but people from all over the Commonwealth gave their lives and contributed in defeating Britain’s enemies.
Manjit and I arranged a meeting with my close friends: Jas Chatha, Jag Bhullar, Gurdip Tung and Jupinder Bains. Collectively we all agreed that we would try and get a memorial in Greenhead Park. Amardeep Panesar was a student doing research on Sikhs’ contributions in the world wars and also linked up with us to get this project going.
I then approached Bob Mortimer who was a Royal British Legion stalwart and held many prestigious positions within the Council in serving the people of Kirklees. He gave us great encouragement and said it was a fantastic idea and would help us in any way he could. He then arranged a meeting between myself and the Huddersfield British Legion Chair, Sue Bevan, and her committee members and, again, there was a great response from Sue and her colleagues.
Below is a timeline of subsequent events:
20th November 2013
Agreed then to take it up with Kirklees Council and arranged a meeting with Robert Whittaker around 20th November 2013.
Examiner Article 29th November 2013.
Question put forward by paper. “Should Sikh Soldiers who died in two world wars be commemorated in a memorial in Huddersfield?
Reply. YES 90.4% NO 9.6%
29th January 2014. Meeting with Robert Whittaker and member of English Heritage Kathryn Gibson. They were comfortable with the proposed form of the memorial – a figurative statue made in bronze with a local stone plinth.
After consultations with the British War Museum and other experts in this field we got to a position where we could submit drawings to the council. This process took approximately a year and was a very time consuming exercise.
2nd September 2015. We submitted the planning application with the help of Philip Fletcher, our planning consultant .This was submitted with the site location plan given to us by the Parks and Recreation Department for submission.
5th January 2016 Robert Whittaker replied that the case has been passed onto Theresa Harlow and he was awaiting a response because there had been planning objections.
18th January 2016 Jonathan Quarmby, the Corporate Facilities manager, asked me to bring along letters of support for this project by the 28th January 2016.
28th January 2016 Civic Centre meeting. In attendance: Jonathan Quarmby, Rob Dalby, Enzo Luckow, Asset Management officer and Tim Bhullar.
Letters of support:
Both Sikh Temples’ management committees
Yorkshire Sikh Forum
URI. United Religious Initiative UK
The Royal British Legion County President
Huddersfield British Legion
Indian Workers Association
Barry Sheerman MP
Jason Mcartney MP
Hindu Society of Kirklees & Calderdale
Sikh Youth Sports Foundation
Chapletown Sikh Temple Leeds
David Ridgeway Councillor
Phil Scott Councillor
Tim Bhullar made it very clear in the meeting that we could submit letters of support from many other organisations if needed and they said that this was enough because it covered a wide spectrum of major organisations, not only within the Indian Community but others also.
Agreed that it will be taken to the council’s cabinet meeting around May/June and possibly Tim Bhullar would be given time to make representation and put a case forward.
26th February 2016 Mark Gregory, Head of Corporate Landlord, sent an email stating that the decision was not to support the lease of land to site a memorial, the principal reason being that an inclusive memorial already existed within the Park.
To be noted that before Tim Bhullar could make representation the planning department refused the planning application.
Kiran Bali then arranged for us to meet the Chief Executive of Kirklees -Amandeep Kooner, Kashmir Singh and Bob Mortimer attended meeting with myself. A decision was made that Tim Bhullar needed to go ahead with making representation to the full cabinet and see what went wrong, especially because negotiations were taking place in support of the project.
October 2016. Tim Bhullar made representation to the cabinet and the meeting was chaired by Cllr David Sheard and a new 5 member committee was appointed to see how the Sikh Statue project could be reconsidered. 5 members: Cllr David Sheard, Cllr Graham Turner, Paul Kemp, Cllr Jim Dodds and Mark Gregory.
New members of the Sikh Soldier Organisation were incorporated and helped significantly to get the project accomplished. The new members were Amandeep Kooner, Kuldip Brar, Joginder Kular, Rajan & Ravinder Samra, Ranjit Mann, Jagjit & Harprit Sodhi.
April 2017. Memorial policy was put in place and an amended application was to be submitted.
5th July 2018. A decision was made. New amended application made 2018/62/90929/W. Erection of memorial in Rose Garden at Greenhead Park, Trinity Street. Huddersfield. HD1 4DN. APPROVED.
October 2018 Jaswant Chatha and Tim Bhullar then went to India in October, statue was commissioned with the sculptor Jaydeep Apte from Mumbai.
5th September 2019 Bronze sculptor arrived and stored away until the plinth was constructed out of Yorkshire Stone by M & M Yorkshire Stone Products Ltd. Bingley.
27th November 2019 MBE Glazing Systems Ltd, Elland erected the statue in Greenhead Park.
30th November 2019 Unveiling ceremony of Sikh Soldier at Greenhead Park
The unveiling ceremony was attended by Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Ed Anderson, as chief guest and The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress (Mumtaz & Noreen Hussain) and many other prominent members from the area. These included:
The Huddersfield Army Veterans
The Royal British Legion
The Yorkshire Regiment
The Deputy Lord Lieutenants
Kirklees Council Chief Executive & Kirklees Councillors
The Local Member of Parliament
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield
Kirklees Chief of Police
Kirklees Fire Chief
The Sea Cadets
The Royal Air Force Cadets
The Deputy Bishop of Huddersfield
The Friends of Greenhead ParkPlus many more and local and national Press & TV