Children in India are continuing to benefit from the legacy left by a Leamington man through the memorial school built in his name ten years ago.
After Gurpreet Singh Mundy, always known as Gilly and the son of former Leamington mayor Cllr Mota Singh, married his wife Debbie in the small village of Buwan Kothi in Haranya, India, they received such amazing hospitality that on Christmas day in 2005 they had the idea to start a charity to benefit residents.
Gilly was one of the founding members of the Bunwan Kothi International Trust charity but his life was cut short on March 17 2007 when he died unexpectedly at the age of 36.
Trust members responded to this shock by resolving to build The Gilly Mundy Memorial Community School (GMMCS).
Exactly a year after Gilly’s death, the school was officially opened.
Built on 4.75 acres of land donated by Mota Singh, the school is located in the heart of a rural area near Lehrian village.
It now has more than 800 pupils aged from three to 17 who come from more than 30 villages and are transported daily by a dedicated fleet of buses.
Trustee Marcia Watson said: “GMMCS is a school that is run on established ethics and principles that promote the family and community.
“The caste system is strongly discouraged and the family ethos strongly promoted.
“The assisted places scheme, which makes up 25 per cent of the students within the school, is funded by the trust in the UK.
“This year the laboratories and the library will be upgraded - again using funds raised in the UK.
“It is indeed a living legacy - so many people, both students and the community, have benefited from the dream of a young man who sadly did not live to see it materialise.”
The tenth anniversary celebration took place at the school in October with trustees travelling from the UK to take part in the event.
Most of the children took part reading nursery rhymes, singing songs, reading poetry and performing traditional B hangra dances.
Marcia added: “It was an incredible showcase for the depth of learning and talents of the children in GMMCS.”
Deborah Coles, chairwoman of the international trust, said: “On behalf of the trustees of the Buwan Kothi International Trust UK, I am delighted to know that the Gilly Mundy Memorial Community School continues to grow from strength to strength.
“Family, friends and supporters in the UK have worked tirelessly to raise funds for both building and specific projects.
“We want to create strong lasting links between school children in the UK and Haryana and to establish arts and health projects to realise fully each child’s creative potential.
“Most of all, we want the school to provide quality education of which pupils and parents can be proud.
“Gilly was passionate about his work challenging racism, injustice and discrimination.
“To honour this we want the school to promote equality and justice for all irrespective of race, gender, religion or any other of the distinctions used to deny people’s rights.
For more information visit http://www.gmmcs.in/
*** Gilly Mundy, who died suddenly on March 17 2007 aged only 36, managed to cram so much into his life and touch the lives of so many others.
He grew up in Leamington’s close-knit Sikh community and his inspiration for a lifetime of political activism came from his father Mota Singh.
He supported the victims of racist violence in east London as a caseworker for the Newham Monitoring Project (NMP), and worked for the Lawrence Family Campaign during the inquiry into Stephen Lawrence’s murder - becoming very close to Stephen’s father Neville.
As the senior caseworker for Inquest, the charity that advises bereaved people and their lawyers following contentious deaths, he helped hundreds of families who had lost loved ones in police and prison custody.
Through Conscious Clubbing, he helped organise music events to raise money for the causes he supported.
Tributes to Gilly speak of his “rare gift” of “being able to connect on a personal level, quietly and generously, with everyone he met” ***