Published: 00:01, 04 October 2015
There will always be a Gurkha looking over Folkestone after a new memorial to 46,000 fallen Gurkhas was unveiled by Joanna Lumley today.
The memorial, built by the Gurkha Memorial Fund, includes a 6ft bronze statue of a Gurkha complete with his rifle and kit.
It was revealed in its new home in the Garden of Remembrance in Sandgate Road.
Miss Lumley, whose father was a Gurkha officer and is a staunch campaigner for the Gurkhas, said it was a very special day.
She said: “It can’t be estimated how important this is for this fine statue to be here in the heart of the home of the Gurkha in Britain which is Folkestone.
“I think the most important thing to keep in our hearts is that this memorial is principally for families. It’s for those who have lost their loved ones, those who have paid the final sacrifice along with their loved ones – their sons, their fathers and their brothers.
Video: Joanna Lumley unveils the statue
“These are the people who’ll be able to come here and know that in this beautiful statue with these moving words around the side of it and commemorating all the 46,000 Gurkhas who from a far away land have laid down their lives for this country.
“It’s for this community for the family, for the family of us and the Gurkhas.”
Then in Nepali she thanked Dhan Gurung who has led the fundraising and co-ordinated the project which started more than five years ago.
In another poignant moment the completion of the memorial in 2015 holds extra significance because this year marks the 200th anniversary of Gurkhas serving in the British Army.
Hundreds packed into the Garden of Remembrance to see the memorial for the first time.
Guests included the First Lady of Nepal, the country’s foreign minister and acting ambassador as well being joined by former Folkestone and Hythe MP Lord Howard and current MP Damian Collins.
"The Gurkha statue is facing to the east. That means the Gurkha has two homes. One is Nepal and one is Great Britain." Dhan Gurung
Mr Gurung, a former soldier himself, spoke of his pride the moment had arrived to unveil it.
He said: “This is an excellent for all of us. We create landmark history in this town.
“This statue is not only a statue itself it’s about education of both communities and for forthcoming generations.
“There’s been really hard work over six years but the whole community worked together as one. We Folkestone people are very proud, we succeeded and we polished off everything to bring it to the people of this town.
“The design is fantastic. If you see the Gurkha statue is facing to the east he served for this country and he loves his country as well.
“That means the Gurkha has two homes. One is Nepal and one is Great Britain.”
More by this authorMatt Leclere