As 73-year-old Rajinder Singh’s name was announced as one of the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) recipient in the Queen’s birthday honours list on Saturday, it was a recognition of Indian-origin Harlington resident’s untiring efforts to raise funds to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, Singh started a skipping challenge by the name of Skipping Sikh to raise funds of the National Health Service (NHS) in England raising more than 14,000 pounds.
The Queen’s birthday honours list, which was expected earlier in June, was earlier postponed. Saturday saw a list of 1,495 recipients being announced with 414 given to persons who responded to the pandemic.
“I was born in the year India got its Independence and my father, Naik Makhan Singh, who served in the British Indian Army, would always tell us his tales of second World War. He would always tell me to be honest and to have the capability of helping people. That’s what I have tried to do all my life. As my name was announced for MBE in the Queen honours list today, I remembered all the things which my father taught me and believed in. In such tough times amid the pandemic, I believe it’s not me but the award is for all of us who have helped in the fight against Covid. This is also for India, the country of my birth and I believe this recognition will inspire people in India too,” said Singh, while speaking with The Indian Express from London.
Singh, who grew up at Devidaspura village near Amritsar, studied at Khalsa College, Amritsar, and later moved to England in the early 1970s. He worked as a driver at the Heathrow airport before retiring in 2018.
He started the Skipping Sikh challenge in April earlier this year after being inspired by 100-year-old captain Tom Moore, who had raised more than 100 million pounds for the NHS.
While Singh had competed in various marathons in England in the last one decade along with legendary runner Fauja Singh, the Harlington resident had learnt skipping from his father and started the challenge at the garden of his home in April.
Daily, he would skip 500-1000 times at his home garden and with more and more people taking up the skipping challenge from all over the world, Singh has raised more than 14,000 pounds. In June, Singh had become a UK Point of Light awardee, which saw him receive a letter of appreciation from UK PM Boris Johnson.
“When I read about Captain Tom Moore, I told my daughter Minreet Kaur about doing something for NHS and we thought of starting the Skipping Sikh challenge since this was the only thing I could do while being at home to raise funds. My father had taught me skipping and it was my way to show my gratitude to him to raise me as an honest person. Within days, people including kindergarten kids to elders supported us in this cause and took the skipping challenge. Getting the UK Point of Light award made me to raise more awareness in general public,” he said.
The 73-year-old added: “I believe we all are human beings and race, colour, nationality does not matter to me. That’s what Sikhism and Hindu, Muslim and Christian religions teach us. All of them guide us to help humanity.”
With the last one month seeing a second wave of Covid-19 in England, Singh believes that the challenge for NHS workers and general public has not ended.
In the Queen’s honours list, Singh is in the company of England and Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, who has been recognised for the services to vulnerable children in UK during Covid-19.
“We all understand that the pandemic has not ended and all of us in every country need to work and help in whatever way we can. I have been taking the skipping challenge to schools and the response of the children has been tremendous. My 74th birthday is on October 23, and I will urge all to skip for 74 times on that day to support this endeavour and to remain fit. A fit body is also needed to recover from Covid and helps us in this fight. As for the MBE ceremony, it will be done in the coming months and it will be great to get the MBE from the Queen whenever it happens,” concluded Singh.
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