Prime Minister Theresa May praises multi-faith Nishkam Primary School Birmingham

Bhai Sahib, Bhai (Dr.) Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia, Patron of Nishkam School Trust, with Prime Minister Theresa May at Nishkam Primary School Birmingham

Theresa May visited Nishkam Primary School Birmingham today, where she praised pupils, staff and the community who are closely involved with the pioneering free school.

The Prime Minister spent time in the classroom with eight-year-old pupils who demonstrated their knowledge of an artist, Henri Rousseau, and discussed JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books with her.

Talking to Dr. Brinder Singh Mahon, Chief Executive of Nishkam School Trust, the multi-academy trust operating the school, the Prime Minister commented that she was inspired by the strong values education upon which the school is based and by the warm, family-like atmosphere within the school.

Bhai Sahib, Bhai (Dr.) Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia, who is the patron and visionary behind Nishkam School Trust said, “We are living in new global contexts, with new global challenges. These require a mind-set centred on values and virtues, along with a keen sense of shared responsibility. Our vision at Nishkam School Trust is to help nurture such a mind-set, enabling our future society to advance and flourish for the benefit of all.”

Mr. Terry Green, Chair of Directors of Nishkam School Trust commented, “On behalf of pupils, parents, staff and the entire community behind Nishkam School Trust, may I thank the Prime Minister for recognising the contribution our multi-faith Sikh ethos school is making to the educational and spiritual life of pupils in this part of Birmingham.”

Ms. Ruby Kundi, Headteacher, added, “We are very grateful for government policy which has allowed the Department for Education to give us this opportunity and responsibility to make a difference to each and every pupil in all of our schools.”

Nishkam Primary School Birmingham (NPSB) is located in Handsworth, an inner-city area of northwest Birmingham. It opened in September 2011 as part of the country’s first wave of free schools. The school is part of a cluster of developments serving to regenerate the local area by combining social innovation with heritage conservation.

Nishkam Primary School Birmingham is currently judged to be ‘Outstanding’ in all categories by OFSTED, an accolade shared by three of the four schools in the Nishkam School Trust.

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Notes to editors:

1. Nishkam Primary School Birmingham (NPSB) is located in Handsworth, an inner-city

area of northwest Birmingham. The school opened in the first wave of free schools in

September 2011 and is part of a cluster of developments serving to regenerate the local area. It educates 420 pupils at present and is oversubscribed.

2. Nishkam School Trust is a Multi-Academy Trust, operating four multi-faith Sikh ethos schools – the trust motto is ‘man neeva mat uchi’ (be humble, be wise).

3. The Trust has developed an educational system committed to academic excellence grounded in a selfless approach to life (nishkam). These aspirations are underpinned by the practice of faith-inspired values of humility, service, compassion, self-discipline, forgiveness, creativity and love. These are values common to those of all faiths or no religious faith.

4. Within all Nishkam School Trust schools, the faith of every individual is equally cherished with our model of education going far beyond the traditional single faith school model. In essence, we believe that our faith-inspired values define the character of education and that they are intrinsic to a positive outlook on life.

5. Nishkam School Trust operates four free schools; two in Birmingham; one in Isleworth, London; and a fourth in Wolverhampton. At present, three of these schools are judged to be ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in every judgement category. When the schools grow to capacity in the coming years, the Trust will be privileged to be serving over 3000 pupils.

6. For more information or for high resolution images, please contact Gurdev Singh Deogon on gs.deogon@nishkamschools.org

Musical First at the Nishkam Centre gets full house – Sangeet Baithak attracts admirers!

Attendees attentively listen as the concert begins.

Attendees attentively listen as the concert begins.

On Saturday 28th November music lovers from many parts of England gathered to enjoy an evening of Indian classical performances at the Nishkam Centre. This event was held to support students – the next generation of artists – and build a platform for their future musical careers. This was the Nishkam Centre’s first Sangeet Baithak. Sangeet is a Sanskrit word for music, and Baithak is a social gathering, usually with everyone sitting on the floor.

The atmosphere was one of anticipation and excitement as 5pm

Roopa Panesar’s Sitar Students from the Nishkam Centre

Roopa Panesar’s Sitar Students from the Nishkam Centre

approached. Performers were setting up and tuning their instruments, while attendees waited patiently to take their seats. The Nishkam Centre sitar students, tutored by professional Sitarist Roopa Panesar, student of world renowned Sitarist and educationalist, Ustad Dharambir Singh MBE, were first to take centre stage. Nishkam Sitar students Jaswir Sandhu, Mohammed Bashir, Wasim Hussein, Ishani Mackan (Leeds), Fait Punia (Leeds), Basant Bhogal, Beena Mehay-Bennett, Gurmukh Singh Chandan, and Naam Kaur Deogan captured the attention of the audience as they played in Raag Bimpilasi with mesmerising and well-rehearsed confidence and ease.

Ustad Dharambir Singh MBE

Ustad Dharambir Singh MBE

Roopa Panesar said, “I feel elated for all the performers to have had such a positive response in a beautiful listening environment. May this be the first Sangeet Baithak of many more!”

The next performers – Tabla Trio Jeevan Singh, Bhavanjot Singh Rehal, and Prabhjot Singh, students of Sri Bhupinder Singh Chaggar (disciple of late Pandit Sharda Sahai) came from Leeds to perform. There were repeated periods of applause from the audience as their individual and collective tabla cycles became increasingly intricate.

Tremendous feedback received from the audience was both uplifting and inspiring.

“A wonderful and aspiring evening full of joy and kindness, the

Kaviraj Singh (Santoor) and Pritpal Singh (Tabla) performing.

Kaviraj Singh (Santoor) and Pritpal Singh (Tabla) performing.

music touched my heart.”

During a short interval attendees were able to network and exchange views about the performances. After the intermission a sitar performance – this time a solo – by Akash Parekh, another Nishkam Centre student of Roopa Panesar was enjoyed by all. He was accompanied by Saheb Singh (Student of Pritam Singh) on tabla. Akash captured the emotion that the playing of a sitar can instil.

Ustad Dharambir Singh (Disciple of late Ustad Vilayat Khan) then addressed the audience as a special guest speaker with a presentation on Sangeet and Sadhana (discipline or dedicated practice). Ustad Ji was intellectually engaging as he took the audience on a journey of the art of music and how it is practiced. He expressed that this event was, “A great experience of listening to Indian classical music in an intimate Baithak style – a traditional and ancient mode of sitting down together with a more involved, supportive and exclamatory audience response. These kinds of gatherings must become the norm in every community in the country.”

Akash Parekh, student of Roopa Panesar playing a Sitar solo.

Akash Parekh, student of Roopa Panesar playing a Sitar solo.

Audience member Gurvir Singh stated that the concert was an absolutely awesome program! The artists were inspirational and the talk about Sangeet Sadhana was on another level – I really enjoyed it. Thank you Nishkam!”

The night ended with a professional performance by Kaviraj Singh Dhadyalla. Kaviraj Singh captured the heart of the audience with a Santoor and singing performance. He was accompanied by Pritpal Singh Rai on tabla (student of late Pandit Sharda Sahai and Sri Bhupinder Singh Chaggar). The sound of the Santoor was emotional and left a feeling of spiritual bliss in the air as the concert came to a close.

Closing remarks were made by Sewa Singh Mandla, who later said,

The Leeds “Tabla Trio” performing in front of a delighted audience.

The Leeds “Tabla Trio” performing in front of a delighted audience.

“The Indian Classical Music (Sangeet Baithak) held at the Nishkam Centre was an exceptional display of local talent in a very friendly atmosphere. We must do more to motivate and encourage them for such performances.”

Future concerts are already in their initial planning stages, keep checking the Nishkam Centre website for updates.

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ENDS

Notes to Editors:

For more information:

  • For further information and queries please contact Ajit Singh 01215154229
  • Nishkam Media Centre – nishkammediacentre.com

Sikh spiritual leader receives OBE for services to interfaith and peace

IMG-20150506-WA0006Bhai Sahib Dr. Mohinder Singh, Chairman of the Nishkam group of charitable organisations based in Birmingham today received the Officer of British Empire (OBE) from The Prince of Wales in recognition of his unstinting and inexorable work over forty years to promote peace and coexistence by bringing people of different faiths together to contribute to the common good of humanity.

On receiving the award, Bhai Sahib said “It is a great personal honour to receive this prestigious award from The Prince of Wales. All accolades are attributed to God Almighty who facilitates human puppets to perform. I have accepted this award on behalf of the founders and members of Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) and the wider communities that I am privileged to serve here in the UK and internationally.”

Bhai Sahib is a selfless religious visionary leader propagating peace, serving society through spiritual inspiration, infrastructure creation, heritage conservation, interfaith engagement and promoting values-led education. As chairperson of GNNSJ, one of the UK’s largest Sikh faith registered charities, he is engaged in an astounding range of civic and spiritual initiatives. He is respected as a bridge-builder within communities in the local and global, secular and spiritual, intra and interfaith contexts. In 2013, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI bestowed a Papal Knighthood of ‘Saint Gregory the Great’ upon Bhai Sahib for his interfaith work in the UK and around the world. In 2014, he was awarded the highly coveted Guru Nanak Interfaith Peace prize by Hofstra University, New York.

He has received Honorary Doctorates from Birmingham City University in 2002, the University of Birmingham in 2006 and the University of Aston in 2014 for services to religious faith propagation, community service, education and research.

Bhai Sahib is Patron of the Nishkam School Trust that has successfully established Nishkam nurseries, primary and secondary schools with a multi-faith ethos in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and London.  Nishkam High School and Sixth Form in Newtown was judged as ‘Outstanding” by OFSTED in its very first inspection in 2014.

His greatest legacies will be the transformation of many lives across faiths; the restoration and conservation of sacred historical Sikh shrines, including Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) in India; construction and management of outstanding quality Sikh places of worship – Gurudwaras – in England, India, Kenya and Zambia; and the ingenious conservation of listed buildings on Soho Road, in Birmingham, that now house the Nishkam Nursery, Nishkam Primary School and the Nishkam Healthcare Trust.

Under his leadership over the span of some twenty-five years, the Nishkam Group has become a major player in the social and economic development of Handsworth in the city of Birmingham, UK and a number of other cities internationally, investing over £60m. He believes in the policy of “service delayed is a service denied” which demands great speed to complete whatever he undertakes to do.

As a highly respected spiritual and community leader, he propagates the deeper Sikh sacred teachings that demand the practice of values in everyday life such as humility, compassion, selflessness and courage.  As a role model, he generates in others a tremendous capacity for undertaking selfless voluntary service to improve the wellbeing of all communities.

ENDS

For more detailed profile and to arrange an interview, please contact:

Amrick Singh Ubhi

Director

Nishkam Civic Association

Tel: 0121 515 4229

Mob: 07771 817484.

Email: amrick.ubhi@ncauk.org

 

Birmingham’s Sikh community embrace grassroots tennis fever

British tennis wants to prove the sport is accessible to all – that it’s not just for ‘the white middle classes’. As a result, the Tennis Activator coaching programme – a Tennis Foundation, LTA-backed venture – was created about two years ago.

Now, in eight locations across the country, more than 600 ‘Activator’ coaches are taking tennis into communities that might traditionally miss out. They were able to do so after undertaking quick, low-cost, and easily-accessible training courses.

Read more here.