What is your project called?
The Gurkha Connection.
When did it take place?
September 2016 – June 2017.
How much did it cost?
Did you receive any external funding?
£20,000 – funding from Armed Forces Community Covenant Fund, plus £500 from Uniting Communities grants (Rushmoor Borough Council) for a series of community engagement workshops.
What key area of Diversity did your Project focus on?
Diversifying our public programmes/events, exhibitions or collections to be more representative of under-represented groups and diversifying your audiences through targeted programming to be more representatives of under-represented groups.
Please describe the aims of the Project.
The aim of the project was to celebrate and commemorate over 200 years of the relationship between the Gurkhas and the British Army. During the project, the participants researched the working relationship between the Gurkhas and the Army, past and present. The work they carried out showcased this historically important relationship and had a creative output with a permanent legacy in the local community. The project also came to recognise and celebrate the local Nepali community.
For the project participants, working on the project they would develop confidence, research and teamwork skills.
Who did you work with?
Young Project Participants
27 young people took part across three groups based at the West End Centre, The Wavell School and The Sixth Form College Farnborough. The participants were a mixed group of white British and young people of Nepali heritage, and from both civilian and military families.
Project Participants and Partners
A significant factor in the project was its scale in terms of participants and partners involved. In addition to the young project participants, the project worked with key groups that were felt to reflect the core aims and objectives – to commemorate the relationship between the Gurkhas and the British Army, and to recognise the wider local Nepali community. Representatives from 10 QOGLR served to represent the former, and representatives from Maddhat Shamuha – Nepalese Help the latter.
Greater Rushmoor Nepali Community
The project fostered a strong relationship with their President, who lent support and helped promote the project within the Nepali community.
The Gurkha Museum, Winchester
Staff provided advice and guidance.
What work did you do together?
Senior officers from 10 QOGLR delivered cultural briefings with the aim of giving participants an insight and cultural understanding into the background of the Gurkhas.
Research – Interviews and Cultural Trips
Research activities were undertaken by the young participants to gain knowledge and understanding of the history and heritage of the Gurkhas and their role within the British Army.
• Participants met personnel from 10 QOGLR and conducted interviews with them using questionnaires they had designed.
• Participants visited Aldershot Military Museum and The Gurkha Museum in Winchester, to learn key facts and to get inspiration for their own exhibition’s style and design.
Heritage and Exhibition Workshops
A Senior Project Curator from The British Museum and an Exhibitions and Events Co-ordinator from Hampshire Cultural Trust delivered workshops to develop the young people’s knowledge and understanding of how to put together a professional exhibition.
The participants interviewed members of Maddhat Shamuha – Nepalese Help, drawing out interesting details to shape the exhibition and book.
Artist Educators from In Focus Training Ltd taught digital SLR camera skills. They were able to utilise what they had learnt to photograph members of 10 QOGLR and Maddhat Shamuha – Nepalese Help.
Preparing the Exhibition
The final activities focused on making selections of photography and workshopping how to display the final exhibition, as well as how to compile the project book. Objects that reflected the key exhibition messages were chosen to complement the photography in the exhibition.
End of Project Activities – Private Views and Celebration Event
The exhibition was launched with a private view, attended by the young participants, project partners and specially invited guests. A celebration event was held in the West End Centre, Aldershot to mark the project and the successes of the young people. The young people received a participation certificate and an Arts Award Discover certificate.
What did you achieve?
The resulting exhibition focused on the photographs taken by the young people, enhanced by objects representing traditional Nepali culture and important aspects of the relationship between the Gurkhas and British Army: symbolism, sacrifice and continuous service. The exhibition provided visitors with an opportunity to share in the celebration not only of the historic relationship between the Gurkhas and the British Army, but also its continued significance today.
A professional film was produced to celebrate the project. Produced by Cass Productions Ltd, the film documents the different stages of the project and hears from all those involved.
The commemorative book has been given to three libraries in Hampshire – Aldershot, Fleet and Farnborough – and will be available to view in the local studies section. In order to ensure the project has as wide a legacy as possible, copies have also been given to: members of Maddhat Shamuha – Nepalese Help, 10 QOGLR, Greater Rushmoor Nepali Community, Alderwood School (Senior), The Sixth Form College Farnborough (library, history and careers department), The Wavell School (library), Army Welfare Service and Unity 101 Community Radio. Along with the project film on DVD, the book will also be archived at Hampshire Record Office.
Arts Award Discover
Around 22 of the young people had completed their Arts Award Discover through the project, providing a lasting and personal reward for their hard work.
What are the long term impacts of your work?
1. Improving appreciation of the Nepali community in Hart & Rushmoor.
2. The relationship that was established between Aldershot Military Museum (Hampshire Cultural Trust) and the local Nepali community in Rushmoor, specifically those members of the community who were part of Maddhat Shamuha – Nepalese Help. This was especially important when establishing a follow-on project called 100 धन्यवाद (Thank You’s). This project was funded by the Armed Forces Covenant: Local Grants and involved working with young people from Hart & Rushmoor to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One, particularly the role that the Gurkhas played. The participants worked with the local Nepali and Gurkha communities to help recognise the Gurkhas’ active role in the war. The relationships that were established during The Gurkha Connection project allowed the follow-on project, 100 धन्यवाद (Thank You’s), to continue the work around improving community integration and appreciation of the Nepali community in Hart & Rushmoor.
Have you embedded this work into your organisation’s practice?
What lessons have you learnt?
What tips would you give other organisations interested in this kind of work?
The key group within the project was the local Nepali community. It was important for me as the project coordinator to establish a meaningful relationship with them before the project started and as it progressed. This was achieved through the following:
1. Find who the main community groups are for the local Nepali community. In this case it was Maddhat Shamuha – Nepalese Help. I visited the group on a number of occasions to speak at their regular meetings. This was especially important for meeting and getting to know the community elders as they could promote and encourage the community to participate in the project.
2. Find out important local organisations for the community. For this project it was The Gurkha Welfare Trust and Greater Rushmoor Nepali Community. I met with The Gurkha Welfare Trust in order to help understand local issues and how the project might play a part in mitigating them. With Greater Rushmoor Nepali Community, I fostered a strong relationship with their President, who lent support and helped promote the project within the Nepali community.