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“We Were There” Exhibition celebrates ethnic minorities’ contribution to defence

An exhibition celebrating diversity and the significant role Britain’s ethnic minorities have, and continue to play in the defence of the country will travel to the north this month and in February.

The exhibition titled “We Were There” will be held in Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield and Middlesbrough.

The exhibition, which is open to the public, documents the last 250 years of UK’s military heritage from the late eighteenth century, both World Wars through to the modern day.

The event will be officially launched in each location by Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry VC and local dignitaries. Originally from Grenada, Lance Corporal Beharry joined the British Army in 2001 enlisting into the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment. He is the first person to receive the Victoria Cross since 1982 and the first non-posthumous member of the British Forces since the 1960s to be awarded the medal for bravery.

Commenting on the importance of the exhibition, Lance Corporal Beharry said: “In the Army you’re a soldier first and foremost. Your race, religion or gender doesn’t come into it. You’re there to do an important job and everyone is equal. The ‘We Were There’ exhibition helps highlight this, as well as recognising the contribution made by different countries, cultures and communities in keeping Britain safe.”

Lance Corporal Beharry’s story is just one of a great number to be included in the exhibition and his experiences will be recorded against such important historical figures as, the female secret agent who earned the George Cross, Noor Inayat Khan, a Lieutenant who fought in the trenches and played professional football, Walter Tull and front line ‘doctress’ from the Crimean War, Mary Seacole.

“One thing that I noticed when I first saw the exhibition was the number of untold, yet amazingly brave and courageous stories the Armed Forces can tell,” Lance Corporal Beharry said. “It’s truly an inspirational exhibition with so many people’s tales to respect and admire.”

Entry into the exhibition is free for anyone who has a keen interest in military history or gaining an insight into their own ethnic heritage.

“We Were There” exhibition “aims to provide surprising and interesting information on unique areas of Britain’s military history, as well as helping to promote a better understanding for people of all ages about their communities within the Armed Forces,” Army Community Liaison Officer for the region, Warrant Officer Class Two Dave Sado said. “We’re delighted to mark the launch of the event alongside Lance Corporal Beharry. He’s a true inspiration to all and testament to the courage shown by our ethnic minority soldiers not only of today, but also those of the past.”

“We Were There” is free to the general public, schools and colleges throughout the period. Transportation is available for organised group visits.

The exhibition will be visiting the following locations across Yorkshire and the North East including; Leeds Royal Armouries from 16th to 23rd January;  Kala Sangham in Bradford from 24th to 27th January; Cutlers Hall in Sheffield from 30th January to 3rd February and The Acklam Green Centre in Middlesbrough from 6th to 10th February.

More information about the exhibition can be found by searching “We Were There North” on Facebook.

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