THE GURKHA community in Catterick Garrison and Colburn is calling for a centre where residents hailing from Nepal and Fiji can meet and become involved in integration projects.

Dr Jagannath Sharma, a Colburn town councillor - the first of Nepali-origin in the area - has discussed the issues of local Gurkhas and other Commonwealth nationals with Richmond MP William Hague.

Dr Sharma said he would continue to fight to get a centre for the growing community.

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“Despite the increasing ethnic minority population Catterick, there is no community centre, so it has become increasingly difficult for people to organise events and get together," he added.

“We need a suitable centre - especially for Gurkhas, Fijians and people of Commonwealth countries currently living in Catterick." 

About 500 British Gurkhas and Nepalese residents, including serving Ghurkha soldiers, live in Catterick, and Coun Sharma, along with North Yorkshire county councillor Helen Grant, is actively involved in integration and community work.

He said: “If we do not address the problem of integration in our community now then it will only get worse in the future.

“We need to find a way to raise funds so we can hold events and activities to teach members of our cmmunity about British customs and traditions so they can live side by side.

“We need to continue with community cohesion.”

Dr Sharma, a superintendent physiotherapist at Infantry Training Centre, Catterick Garrison, said health promotion activities are vitally important, and he is running a yoga class for all the community but currently only Gurkha and Nepalese residents are attending.

“Due to difficulties in finding a suitable venue we are currently holding them inside the Temple in Helles Barracks – but in March I hope to hold a free class at Colburn Town Hall which is much easier to access.

“Yoga classes, along with cultural visits can be instrumental in promoting understanding in all cultures. If we had a centre then we could post all activities on a notice board for easy access.”

This year 126 Gurkha recruits have arrived to receive training at Infantry training centre Catterick, Gurkha Company.

Dr Sharma is also an army reserve officer Royal Army Medical working at 201 Field Hospital.

For more information on the activities contact Dr Sharma on 07828-079402.