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500 retired Gurkhas pay respect to who lost their lives since 1815

Hampshire: THEY laid wreaths and fell silent to remember their forefathers’ sacrifice. About 500 retired Gurkhas and Nepalese families from across the South came to Hampshire to pay respect to the soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British army since 1815. But the annual outing, starting in Winchester, carried extra meaning this year because it fell on the 200th anniversary year of Gurkha service to Britain - and comes just weeks after two devastating earthquakes struck Nepal. Crowds complete in uniform or national dress were joined by 10 Eastleigh firefighters who dispatched to the ravaged capital city, Kathmandu, to deliver aid and help the victims. Kamal Bahadur Purja, co-founder of Hampshire charity Nepalese Help, said: “They have done so much for Nepal in the recent earthquake. "They went out to the Gurkhas and helped many, many people. We’re giving thanks to what they have done for us back in Nepal. “Hampshire is such a lovely place and Hampshire people always welcome Gurkhas and Nepalese families.” The ex-Gurkhas and Nepalese relatives started the day by visiting Winchester’s Gurkha Museum – many for the first time. Museum curator Gavin Edgerley Harris said: “I think some retired Gurkhas have not had the opportunity to learn about the history of their regiment, and visiting the museum gives them an excellent insight to what their forefathers did. PROMOTED STORIES Recommended by “It’s a pleasure to welcome Gurkha communities from across the South of England to see the history of Gurkhas over 200 years.”

The crowds then visited Hilliers Garden near Romsey, well-known for preserving the Nepalese national flower, the rhododendron, to lay poppy wreaths at a Chautara, which is a typical feature found in the foothills of Nepal. Here it serves in memory of Gurkha soldiers who laid down their lives in service to the British Army. As is Nepalese tradition, there was music, song and dance. Food was shared as part of a big picnic. Councillor Roy Perry, leader of Hampshire County Council which is the sole trustee of the gardens, attended the event, accompanied by representatives from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. In support of all those affected by the earthquake, Cllr Perry also presented an award of £20,000 to The Gurkha Welfare Trust on behalf of the county council and the people of Hampshire. He said: “All those affected by the terrible earthquakes in Nepal are in our thoughts and prayers, including the families of those who lost their lives in such tragic circumstances, or who have been injured or homeless. “I was honoured to be invited once again to this event at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, which this year had even more significance. "There are 30,000 military personnel based in Hampshire, the largest contingent in the country, and we are immensely proud of our strong connection with the armed forces, including the Gurkhas many of whom have made their home in the north of Hampshire.” 

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