British Gurkha Welfare Society (BGWS) was established in 2004 under the chairmanship of Maj(Retd) Tikendradal Dewan to meet the needs of the large influx of ex Gurkhas and their families in the UK. The BGWS is open to all ex Gurkhas and their dependants and aims to meet the welfare needs of the members and to strengthen links with local communities. The BGWS provides immigration advice, liaises with local authorities, translates official documents, has members who are governors in local school governing boards, provide support for projects in Nepal.
The idea for Radio BGWS was sparked off when the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS), refused ex- servicemen and their families to participate in their phone-ins and other radio programmes on the grounds that the BFBS only provide welfare service to the service-personnel and their families. BFBS had been a way of life for the dispersed ex-Gurkha community to keep in touch with each other and there was a lot of disappointment when people could no longer participate in the programmes. A meeting was called in 2005 about this, attended by around 500 representatives from the community. This meeting called for a community radio station for the ex-Gurkha community based in the greater Farnborough area, as BGWS thought that a community radio project could be a good way of connecting local Nepali people as the Farnborough community grows and nationally though Internet broadcasting. The project for setting up our very own Radio Station was taken on by Maj(Retd) Sonam Tshering Sherpa.
From this meeting a nucleus of 9 women and one teenager volunteers came forward who were lead, trained and nurtured by Major(Retd) Sonam Tshering Sherpa. Meanwhile a small studio with the latest automation system was put in place with the intention of applying for a community radio licence. In February 2007, BGWS ran a trail broadcast on FM for a month which proved to be very successful. It was then decided to apply for a community radio licence to serve their community. After a long a Community Radio licence was awarded to BGWS in Sepetmber 2009 but due to financial constraints and various technical reasons BGWS was not able to launch its radio station immediately. Radio BGWS was finally launched on 30 September 2011 without much fun fare. Since then it has been broadcasting six hours a day from 1200 hours to 1800 hours.
Radio BGWS provide a Community Radio service for the rapidly growing community of ex-Gurkhas , their families and other Nepalese people in the Rushmoor Borough Council area including Farnborough, Aldershot, Camberley and Fleet. The service is broadcast mostly in Nepali and will provide information, advice and entertainment for the Nepalese community, helping them to integrate into local life and to stay in touch with Nepali traditions and culture and with other ex-Gurkhas and Nepalese people thoughout the UK and the world. Radio BGWS is mostly run by volunteers and will provide on-going training and support so that local people can get involved in producing and presenting their own programmes.
Radio BGWS will address the following community needs:
- For information and help in integrating into the local community, such as information about housing, health, jobs, education and training.
- To foster a sense of community amongst the ex Gurkha and Nepalese community in the Rushmoor area.
- To support women in the community with information and a sense of community support.
- To support young people in the community and to give them a sense of pride in their roots.
- To help the community keep in touch with Nepal, it’s culture and tradition and ex Gurkhas and Nepalese people in other parts of the UK and the world.
- To help create a dialogue between the ex-Gurkha and Nepalese community in the greater Rushmoor area and agencies providing public services
- To educate and inform the wider community in the greater Rushmoor area and the UK about the ex-Gurkha and Nepalese community.
- Provide information from the local authorities and other agencies such as the police force, health information, SureStart etc
- Providie opportunities for local businesses to advertise.
- Provide information about training and job vacancies.
- Giving young people an opportunist for work experience.
- Radio BGWS will broadcast live from local festivals and events so that these reach a wider audience.