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Crawley Sikhs join Armed Forces Day celebrations

Armed Forces Day took place on Saturday (30 June), and Crawley’s Sikh community showed solidarity with British Armed Forces.

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Sikhs from Crawley Gurdwara, Ifield Green joined celebrations in Memorial Gardens to show appreciation of the work of the Armed Forces.

On Saturday (30 June), they served free food and spoke with people about the heroic contributions of Sikhs to the British Military past and present.

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Throughout the day volunteers from the Sikh community engaged with locals, talking about how Sikh ethics underpin their commitment to serve and support the Armed Forces.

The Chair of the British Armed Forces Sikh Association, Sgt. Sarvjit Singh, joined in with the activities of the day. He paid tribute to Crawley Gurdwara for taking part in this year’s event, and for the interest shown by the people of Crawley to learn more about Sikhs and the Armed Forces.

There is a proud military tradition amongst Sikhs that traces back throughout their turbulent history. In the 17th Century, following oppression from the Mughal Empire, Sikhs resorted to arms not only to defend the sanctity of their own faith, but also to protect the beliefs and traditions of others.

In more recent times, estimates suggest that over 83,000 turban wearing Sikh soldiers died and over 100,000 were injured during both World Wars. Sikh battalions fought in Egypt, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Gallipoli and France during the First World War. While in the Second World War, six battalions of the Sikh Regiment were raised and served in the Battle of El Alamein, Burma, Italy and Iraq, winning 27 battle honours.

One of the most famous acts of valour demonstrated by Sikhs came about in 1897 at the Battle of Saragarhi in Afghanistan. 21 Sikh soldiers died defending a British Army post against 10,000 Afghans. Ten Sikhs have also won the Victoria Cross.

Speaking on Armed Forces Day, Jasvinder Kaur, President of Sri Guru Singh Sabha Crawley, Ifield Green, said:

“Events like this are so important to highlight the strength of unity in Crawley amongst such a diverse community. We’re really proud to take part in this year’s Armed Forces Awareness Day and to show that regardless of our backgrounds, there are universal values that we all share.

As Sikhs we have a special responsibility to defend the rights and freedoms for all.  We have a rich history of fighting against tyranny, so we are delighted to be able to share some of this with people today.

The British Army’s values of courage, discipline, integrity, respect for others, loyalty and self-less commitment, are all virtues that Sikhs prescribe to and try to live by. This is why we will always show support for the brave men and women in our Armed Forces.”

Some of Crawley’s Sikh community with Town Mayor, Carlos Castro.

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Northgate man sentenced to 18 years for sexual assaults on 10-year-old girl

A Crawley man has been given an 18-year-prison sentence for sexual assaults on a young girl.

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John Cole, 33, a mechanic, of Oak Way, Crawley, was sentenced at Hove Crown Court on Friday (11 October) having been found guilty after a five-day trial, of two offences of rape and four offences of engaging in sexual activity, against the 10-year-old girl between 2017 and 2018.

He will also be a registered sex offender for life.

Detective Constable Kirstie Prentice of the West Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit said;

“Cole came to know the young girl over a period of time and systematically sexually abused her, taking advantage of her age and natural vulnerability for his own sexual gratification, telling her her that if she told anyone they would both go to prison.

“Only when her mother found a note hidden in a backpack in the girl’s bedroom revealing she had been assaulted by him did the offending come to light, and police were informed.

“She has very bravely supported the investigation throughout and gave evidence against Cole in court, with special measures including a screen to help her.”

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