Armistice 100: Brent thanks First World War heroes at moving Barham Park service with Gurkhas centre stage

A retired Gurkha lays a wreath at the Barham Park War Memorial. Picture: British Gurkha Nepalese Ass

A retired Gurkha lays a wreath at the Barham Park War Memorial. Picture: British Gurkha Nepalese Association - Credit: Archant

A band of ex-Gurkhas from Wembley’s Nepalese community led Sunday’s parade to Barham Park war memorial, where a civic service of remembrance took place paying tribute to military personnel killed in conflict over the past century.

The revered south Asian soldiers, who serve in the British Army despite hailing from a mountainous region of Nepal, lined up alongside members of Brent’s Wembley and Willesden cadet groups.

After a parade from the nearby headquarters of the local squadron of the Army Training Corps at 607 Harrow Road, Wembley, to the war memorial in Barham Park, the Dean of Brent Rev Graham Noyce led a short service before inviting members of the community – including the current mayor of Brent Cllr Arshad Mahmood, representatives from the British Gurkha Nepalese Association (BGNA), and both of Brent’s local MPs Dawn Butler and Barry Gardiner – to lay wreathes at the park’s memorial.

The BGNA wreath was laid by retired Gurkha Randhoj Rana, with another on behalf of the Tamu Samaj community group laid by former soldier Chitra Gurung, 63, who served in the British Army for two decades.

He told the Kilburn Times: “It was a exceptional ceremony.”

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The BGNA’s Dilip Rai, 58, who also served as a Gurkha told this newspaper: “We play a big role in Wembley and it was an excellent day.

“It all helps fundraise for the Royal British Legion branch, and means we can help improve social inclusion for members of the community.”

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The parade was led by Jeetendra Gurung, 25, of the Wembley Air Training Corp squadron.

“It’s a massive honour to have the role,” he said. “It used to be rotated around but I did it last year and I think they felt I had the right voice for the parade.

“It’s really important to thank those who died and it’s been a wonderful day.”

Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Central, said: “It’s vital to remember, and to never forget. It’s so important to give a few hours of our time and stand in silence in honour of the people who gave their lives.”

The event saw a minute’s silence marked by the local Regent Brass Band, who played the traditional Last Post.

After the wreath-laying, the local Tamu Samaj Nepalese group held a reception for members of the community. At the reception, leader of Brent Council Muhammed Butt said: “Today has been a powerful reminder of war’s terror and its horrendous legacy. It’s been incredible to see so many members of the community paying tribute.”

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