One of Britain’s most renowned and revered Sikhs – Daljit Singh Shergill, former president of the Smethwick Gurdwara, Britain’s first – has passed away.
He was aged 70.
The formidable and imposing Daljit Singh, affectionately known as Shergill Sahib, was born into a Sikh family in the Punjab and migrated to Britain in the early 1960’s before being baptized as a Sikh in 1979.
His father had fought for Britain in the Second World War.
At the time he was working as a bus driver, a revolutionary of sorts in the racially fraught West Midlands of the era.
He is best known as the longest-serving president and custodian of the Smethwick Gurdwara, one of the largest outside India and arguably the biggest in the UK.
A former church, the Gurdwara had been bought over by a Sikh group in 1961 before lying dormant for more than twenty years.
In 1984, Daljit Singh took over as president of the Gurdwara and began what would become a three-decade long regeneration program that would turn the venue not only the heart of the Sikh community in the West Midlands but one of the most renowned community centres in the region.
Among the highlights of his extraordinary life were the founding of the first Sikh Games; the founding of an organization that dealt with families and women suffering domestic abuse as well as the establishment of the lottery-funded Smethwick Youth Community Centre which youth empowerment and welfare programs across the community.
A funeral service for Daljit Singh will take place at Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick on 15 October beginning 1.45 pm.