WEST MIDLANDS: Hundreds of people from all walks of life gathered outside Guru Nanak Gurdwara, High Street, Smethwick this morning to witness the moment the Lions of the Great War sculpture – designed by Black Country sculptor Luke Perry – was revealed for the first time.
The 10ft (3m) bronze statue of a Sikh soldier in Smethwick honours service personnel of all faiths from the Indian subcontinent who fought for Britain during WW1 and other conflicts.
Sitting on a six-foot granite plinth, the statue is permanently based between High Street and Tollhouse Way, where Sandwell Council has worked with the Gurdwara to create a paved public space with seating and lighting.
Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwick commissioned and paid for the £30,000 work by Black Country sculptor Luke Perry.
Speaking at the unveiling, Perry said: “Great Britain owes much of its greatness to people whose history started in another land.”
The president of Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Jatinder Singh said: “We are so proud to be unveiling this memorial to honour the sacrifice of all those brave men who travelled thousands of miles to fight for a country that wasn’t their own.
Preet Kaur Gill, MP for the nearby Birmingham constituency of Edgbaston, is chairwoman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs was in attendance with a wide spectrum of local and national dignitaries and community members.
“Despite being small in number in British India, Sikhs played an important part in the War, making up more than a fifth of the British Indian Army,” she said.
“This statue will serve as a reminder to those Sikh soldiers who sacrificed their lives in defence of democracy and in the fight for freedom.”
The statue site will be also protected by Centenary Fields, run by the national charity Fields in Trust in partnership with The Royal British Legion.
Leader of Sandwell Council Councillor Steve Eling gave a speech at the unveiling, and added: “This is something that people in Smethwick and in Sandwell can be extremely proud of.”
Speeches were also made by MP for Warley John Spellar, Angela Lewis, the head of programmes at Fields in Trust and dignitaries from the Sikh community.