Adrian Hayes

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Honoured to spend the last few weeks visiting ex-servicemen and their families from my former regiment, 7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles, in the East of Nepal. 

The 7th Gurkha Rifles Regimental Association, now chaired by Colonel Mike Kefford, have always had a policy of sending a British Officer to Nepal to visit our pensioners around the time of our regimental birthday on 16 May.  With the visits being postponed due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, my visit was the first in three years – and to enable us to visit as many locations as possible, two officers visited different areas.

The visit over several weeks was utterly outstanding, and the hospitality, warmth and sheer happiness shown by our servicemen very humbling indeed. With 7GR being disbanded in 1994 (superseded by the Royal Gurkha Rifles), and with nearly all Gurkhas now settling in the UK after their service, those in Nepal are naturally ageing by the year, and deaths increasing notably. Notwithstanding this, we will continue to visit the areas until the last man is standing.

In an age of incessant self-promotion and attention seeking on social media channels, these servicemen – the oldest of whom met (99) served in WW2 and most served in Malaya, Borneo, the Falklands and other campaigns of the past 60 years – are the true heroes of our time...

Pictured: Maj Baliman Rai, aged 88

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