Rajinder Singh: From A Skipping Challenge To The Royal Box At Wimbledon
I went from one skipping video to receiving the Points of Light award, to then a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) award, to now being invited to watch Wimbledon in the Royal Box
July 8, 2021 | 4.5 min. read | Opinion
I cannot believe the year I have had as I have gone from someone that simply enjoys exercise to the viral Skipping Sikh.
My daughter is a journalist and it was her idea to start the skipping challenge, we never knew it would reach so many and inspire millions worldwide. I went from one skipping video taken at my allotment going viral to receiving the Points of Light award by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to then a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) award by the Queen, to now being invited to watch Wimbledon in the Royal Box.
This is not what I did the skipping for; I am a true believer in doing Seva, helping others, and doing good in this life.
Seva is in my blood.
I have been skipping since I was six years old and I learned from my father who was in the army in World War 2. All my life I have done sports including marathons and cycling events but skipping is just something I love.
I love it because I can remember both my father and my Waheguru while skipping.
My father was murdered in 1985 and to this day we have no closure as the police never told us who did it. So, skipping for me reminds me of my father who has always been my role model. At the same time, I can also do Simran while skipping.
I taught my children to skip, and have always enjoyed doing it, it helps build your stamina and is a great cardio workout.
We were given tickets by the All England Lawn Tennis Club on July 2 as part of their way of thanking COVID-19 heroes. I had raised thousands for the National Health Service (NHS) through skipping.
I woke up early, did my prayers, and then started to get ready, reciting Waheguru all the time. I wanted to wear the bana and a cream-coloured dastar. I normally wear my Kirpan outside of my clothes but there have been issues in the past when security has not allowed it. Something that is an all to common experience for Sikhs attempting to attend sporting events in the UK.
As we arrived, there was a parking space for us at the front for those in the Royal Box. A security man met us on arrival, took us through to the main entrance and up to the Royal Box, all really smooth, no issues, and fortunately no questions about my Kirpan.
I felt really special and respected but also a little embarrassed because I did not think I was so important. I was greeted by the chairman who had invited me and my daughter. I was in the second row and I could see the centre court so clearly, it felt like I was right on the court.
It was a bright sunny day, with Waheguru kirpa the weather stayed warm all day.
We then went on the balcony where they served refreshments and I met the Duke of Kent who said I look very elegant, which was very kind of him. The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton sat in the row in front of us and turned to say hello and congratulate me. I thanked her and wished her and her family well. It was an honour to meet her and the Duke as well as many other inspirational people like Joe Wicks and Mr. Motivator who both kept the nation fit in the lockdown.
The experience of the Royal Box is something that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I do not like this kind of treatment or having so much attention on me, but as my daughter has really worked hard to help raise the profile of Sikhs in the media, I felt it is my duty to turn up and represent my faith.
I wanted to show the world we are hardworking, proud, and kind people doing the duty of selfless service which started from our first Guru, Guru Nanak.
I was very honoured to be invited to this because I love Wimbledon and watch it every year. I felt the respect and love from so many there and one lovely lady who is a well-known artist who asked if she could do a portrait of me as she said I look really nice in my clothing. I watched Andy Murray play and the ladies played earlier on, it was such an experience that I will never forget. I felt humbled to be the only Sikh representing my entire community. I was even featured on BBC and Diljit Dosanjh tweeted to show support pride.
The evening ended just after 9.30 pm and I did some skipping outside the entrance. It was a delightful day, I am really blessed to be able to see such a great sport with a view that is just amazing. It was something I will always remember, and to be there with my family meant everything to me.
I do this as a father— because my daughter said, “Dadji, God has blessed you with Seva, do it and keep doing it. Because if you can help encourage others to skip and exercise, you have done what your Guru would want you to.”
I want this world to be a better place and I want us all to do one good deed per day to help others.
Spreading love and kindness costs nothing. I will continue to share exercises and I hope one day when everything is back to some kind of normal, I can invite you all to a Sukhmani Sahib paath at the Gurdwara to thank you and we can pray together and have langar together. Stay in Chardi Kala always and God bless you and thank you for your support.
Rajinder Singh is the 73-year-old Skipping Sikh and has received accolades through the COVID-19 pandemic for encouraging old and young alike to remain active and healthy during the pandemic lockdowns. You can follow him on Twitter at @SikhSkipping.
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