Our Man in Westminster
Last Saturday’s charity dinner for the Sagarmatha Gurkha and Nepalese Community in Ashford provides a good opportunity to pay tribute to many members of that community. At the dinner I was pleased to be giving awards to those who have made a longterm contribution to the community but also to those who have helped financially and in other ways those who were affected by last year’s terrible earthquake in Nepal.
This activity is very commendable but my main point is the need to pay tribute to the contribution to Ashford life of the Nepalese community that has grown so significantly here in the past 10 years. There is no one big event to point to but a thousand small contributions which add up to a model of how a growing community can be integrated successfully into the wider life of a community.
I have observed over the past few years how, when I present the prizes at school award ceremonies around Ashford, there are always a number for children of Nepalese parents. I see the numbers employed in shops and businesses around the borough, as well as in public institutions like the William Harvey Hospital.
In many ways this should not be surprising. There are now about 900 Nepalese households in Ashford, so there will be more than 2,000 adults and children of Nepalese extraction in the town. This is numerically by far the most significant minority community in the town.
One of the long-term aims of the community is to raise the money to build their own community centre, which I hope to see being able to provide a range of facilities including English classes to ensure that those who come as adults from Nepal can play a full role in local life.
This would cement the important and positive effect the community is having in Ashford.