A Bradley Stoke resident has been announced as one of around 40 recipients of a medal issued to mark a century of Sikh presence in the east African country of Uganda.
Dr Harmandar Singh Gupta, 72, a resident of the Bluebell Gardens retirement home in Savages Wood Road, is planning to return to the country of his birth in September, to receive the Sikh Centenary Gold Medal from a high-ranking representative of the Ugandan government.
The medal is being awarded in recognition of Dr Harmandar’s “free service to poor patients” in the Ugandan town of Mbarara, where he was educated at a missionary school in the 1950s.
Qualifying as a doctor in 1969, after taking an external degree in tropical medicine through the University of London, Harmandar initially worked in the A&E department of a Kampala hospital before returning to Mbarara, where he worked as general medical practitioner.
Following President Idi Amin’s expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972, Harmandar settled in Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo), where he served as the doctor to numerous embassies (including those of Great Britain, India, Canada, Angola, Zambia, Cameroon, Ghana. Tanzania and Kenya) and a number of foreign construction companies, such as George Wimpey.
Whilst living in Zaire, Harmandar’s wife, Diljeet Kaur Gupta, used her masters degree in literature to teach the children of embassy workers in a local school.
The couple moved to the UK in 1984 with their three sons, Rimpy, Tim and Ruby, who all attended Clifton College. They bought a nursing home in Weston-super-Mare in 1989, which Mrs Gupta ran until they were forced to sell it in 2011.
Harmandar returned to Zaire in 1990, to receive a knighthood for his services to foreign embassies, an honour conferred by the Chief of the Army (photo below) on behalf of President Mobutu.
Sadly, Mrs Gupta passed away only a month after giving up work at the nursing home, at the age of 67. Harmandar says he misses her terribly, describing her fondly as “the prettiest lady I have ever seen”.
Having moved to Bluebell Gardens from his former home in Stoke Bishop last year, Harmandar says he loves living in Bradley Stoke, describing it as a “very lively and colourful place”. He particularly likes seeing so many young families out and about and loves to hear children enjoying themselves in the playground of Meadowbrook Primary School, just across the road from his flat.
He enjoys walking and has a daily route which takes in part of the nature reserve and the ‘duck pond’. “You’re sure to see me out and about,” he says, adding: “I’m quite possibly the only pensioner you’ll see walking around Bradley Stoke wearing a turban!”
Photo: Doctor Harmandar Singh Gupta receiving a Zairian knighthood in 1990, for services to foreign embassies.
This article originally appeared in the July 2014 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,450 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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