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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Glad my challenge touched hearts: 73-yr-old ‘Skipping Sikh’

“The idea to start a skipping challenge came as I was spending time in isolation during lockdown in March after the pandemic started. I was very much inspired by Captain Tom Moore and my daughter Minreet Kaur wanted to set a challenge for me," said Rajinder Singh.

Written by Nitin Sharma | Chandigarh | Updated: June 28, 2020 12:08:15 pm
Skipping Sikh, fund raising, National Health Service, Chandigarh news, Punjab news, Indian express news Rajinder Singh at his Harlington home near London. (Express photo)

It was more than three months ago when Rajinder Singh (73) decided to start a skipping challenge at his home in Harlington near London to raise funds for the National Health Service, inspired by 100-year-old Captain Tom Moore. After raising more than 13,000 pounds in his Skipping Sikh campaign so far, Singh — a former Heathrow Airport driver — received a letter of appreciation from UK PM Boris Johnson on Friday. His fund raising efforts in the last three months have also seen him become UK’s Point of Light awardee — a UK government volunteer recognition programme since April 2014 where UK PM recognises volunteers every week.

“The idea to start a skipping challenge came as I was spending time in isolation during lockdown in March after the pandemic started. I was very much inspired by Captain Tom Moore and my daughter Minreet Kaur wanted to set a challenge for me. As I am very fond of skipping, she told me to start this Skipping Sikh challenge. I am glad that over the course of last three months, I have been able to raise 13,450 pounds for the NHS and I am overwhelmed by the support. To be recognised as one of the Points of Light by UK PM is a great honour for me and I wish more and more people can join the challenge and help NHS in such times,” said Singh while speaking with The Indian Express from England.

Originally belonging to Devidas Pura village near Amritsar and with his father Naik Makhan Singh serving in British Indian Army in the Second World War, Singh moved to England in the 1960s. While he used to work as a driver at the Heathrow airport near London, Singh took part in marathons apart from running in charity runs, where he also met legendary runner Fauja Singh. In the last three months, Singh has skipped 500-1000 times daily at his Harlington home and the garden area outside his home in an effort to raise funds.

“I worked as a driver before and retired in 2018. I was an active runner and ran in marathons and also love cycling. Growing up in my village near Amritsar, I had learnt skipping from my father and I found it as the easiest sport in terms of setting up and ability to do it anywhere. I am glad that my challenge has touched hearts everywhere. I’ve had a three-year-old girl taking up the skipping challenge to an 81-year-old grandfather taking up the challenge. People from India, USA, Canada, Australia and UK have donated and it’s a tribute to the NHS workers. They don’t walk away from a pandemic and are the frontline force against this pandemic,” adds Singh.

While England eased out the lockdown regulations last month with new set of guidelines regarding unlocking the country starting July 4 including opening up of pubs and restaurants, Singh wants people to remain cautious. Singh’s daughter, Minreet Kaur, and wife, Pritpal Kaur, have also been honouring Covid-19 heroes in their community baking cakes for them.

“With parks opening up in recent weeks, I am taking this challenge to the park following social distancing measures and I also sometime skip while standing in queue outside grocery store and people have been supportive of this challenge. I will continue this challenge for one more week and we also plan to organise a ‘skipathon’ in a local park with social distancing. Keeping yourself mentally fit is the biggest asset in such times and I am happy to play my part for the public. My wife and daughter have been honouring our neighborhood heroes and that’s what we have been taught in Sikhism: to support and love,” says Singh.

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