The Gurkha Statue Rededication – a speech by Sir David Bill, KCB

Yesterday’s service at the Gurkha Statue opened with some words from Lieutenant General Sir David Bill, KCB regarding the recent disaster in Nepal. These are reproduced below:

“We are here today to re-dedicate our Gurkha Statue as we commemorate and remember with pride 200 years of Gurkha Service to the British Crown.  But first it is surely appropriate that we pause for a moment to consider the impact of the unfolding tragedy following Saturday’s 7.5 Richter scale earthquake and the more than 100 aftershocks that have hit Nepal.  We know already that thousands have lost their lives many more have been wounded, and millions of Nepalis are now directly affected in a country not well placed to withstand such natural disasters.  We have seen images of the levels of destruction in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur and know that much of the infrastructure in an area centred on the Kathmandu Valley, Gorkha and Lamjung has been destroyed or very badly damaged.

The immediate international response to this tragedy has been heartening as has been the remarkable generosity of the British Public which has seen millions of pounds donated within hours.  Our own government has pledged significant funds, and has already deployed critical assets including as you will have seen a party of our own soldiers from the Brigade bringing their particular skills to help the country of their birth.  Clearly it will take more time to determine the full extent of the human cost of this disaster and a good deal more time to restore the situation.  The immediate needs over and above the search and rescue task seem to be: medical, food, shelter, water and sanitation.  Our own charitable arm, the Gurkha Welfare Trust has launched an earthquake appeal as well as committing itself to a £2M contingency fund to be spent where it is most needed across communities.  Our Trust is particularly well placed with its well established network of Welfare Centres to provide a focused and timely response and, I know, warmly welcomes your support.

I can do no better than to conclude this element with the words of our Colonel Commandant, Gen Sir Peter Wall:

On behalf our Gurkha family everywhere, we pass on to you our deepest condolences on the tragic consequence of this terrible natural disaster.  We stand ready to do whatever we can to help.  You, the people of Nepal, are in the forefront of our thoughts and prayers.