Some 170 soldiers from the 1st Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles are manning Covid lateral flow testing centres located at numerous motorway service stations across the country.
They are there to test hauliers and commercial drivers heading to Europe and once those drivers have been tested and certified they can continue their journey on to the channel ports and tunnel. The system is designed to alleviate congestion along the south coast making life easier for the drivers and the authorities.
Recognising that these soldiers in 4-6 person teams were operating often remotely and detached from their parent unit the Gurkha military community came together to arrange to bring a little piece of Nepalese culture to those providing this vital service in these isolated posts.
So, as a mark of thanks and to give a little morale booster, the Gurkhas arranged for whichever of their units were closest to where these test centres were located to cook, deliver and serve a Gurkha soldier’s favourite meal – a Nepalese baht (spicy curry).
So, it was with smiling grins that the Gurkhas operating the test centres at Hopwood Park and Tamworth service stations along the M42 welcomed the arrival of lunch provided by the Queen’s Gurkha Signal Squadron from 30 Signals Regiment based at Bramcote.
Amid the snowy conditions a mini-bus drew into the lorry park where a Gurkha chef and team jumped out to set up a table with a feast fit for a tired Gurkha.
Soon they were dispensing plates of delicious Nepalese fare that steamed amid the sub-zero temperatures and one very happy group of Gurkha soldiers tucked in!
Captain Jamie Dick of 1 RGR said, ‘The Gurkhas at these outstations have really appreciated this. At the moment, they are being accommodated nearby and sourcing their food from local shops. Ordinarily back at their home barracks in Folkestone their canteen would serve Nepalese cuisine on a daily basis, so this has really been well received and goes a long way to keeping their spirits up.’