Prime Minister gives award to the man who helps Brighton remember its Indian heroes

Posted On 18 Jul 2017 at 12:22 am

The Prime Minister Theresa May has recognised a local historian who has been helping Brighton to remember its Indian war heroes.

Mrs May has announced a Points of Light award to Davinder Dhillon for his work as the chairman of the Chattri Memorial Group.

The Chattri after the recent service

He is a key figure in organising the annual interfaith service at the Chattri memorial on the South Downs just north of Patcham every June.

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It brings together 500 people from Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities and commemorates the sacrifice of Indian soldiers who served in the First World War.

After being injured in the fighting they were brought to Brighton for treatment – at the Royal Pavilion which was turned into a makeshift hospital – but dozens lost their lives.

The Chattri memorial was placed at the site where 53 Hindu and Sikh soldiers were cremated. Twenty one Muslim men were buried in Woking, in Surrey.

The mayor, the lord lieutenant and various groups, such as the Scouts, lay wreaths in remembrance at the Chattri each year.

And throughout the year Mr Dhillon also raises awareness of the contribution made by the soldiers.

His efforts have inspired Sikh, Hindu and Muslim people around the country to create their own memorials, such as the Peace Garden in Woking.

Mr Dhillon is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.

Each day someone somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.

Davinder Dhillon

In a personal letter to Mr Dhillon, the Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Your work with the Chattri Memorial Group is invaluable in bringing together the community to commemorate the lives and work of the Indian soldiers who died in the First World War.”

Mr Dhillon said: “I feel very privileged to receive the Points of Light award.

“The enormous Indian contribution to the First World War has not been fully recognised and I am honoured, with a small team of volunteers, to be part of the process of remembering those Indian combatants and non-combatants who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“I am very grateful that my role in this annual act of remembrance has been acknowledged.”

Mr Dhillon is the 725th winner of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the America.

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