Defence Inclusivity Award Finalists 2024

An award to honour the commitment and achievements of an individual, team or organisation in delivering greater diversity and inclusion within UK defence and the Armed Forces community. 

In partnership with Barclays.

Introducing the Finalists...

British West India Regiments Heritage Trust

The British West India Regiments Heritage Trust (BWIRHT) is a veteran-led not-for-profit organisation dedicated to remembering and honouring the contributions and sacrifices of the West India Regiments and the British West Indies Regiment. This includes both; the 15,600 West Indian men who travelled from their homes to fight for freedom in World War I, the 10,000 West Indian men and women who volunteered in World War II, and their descendants. 

BWIRHT reminds us of the centuries of service and sacrifice by those who have supported and continue to support the British Armed Forces worldwide. The organisation’s mission not only commemorates the past, but also honours today’s descendants creating a lasting legacy, that connects past, present and future generations. 

The groundbreaking work delivered by BWIRHT is history making. In 2023, the organisation made history by laying wreaths and playing a haunting last post on steel drums at the Menin Gate to honour the fallen and missing combatants of West Indian heritage. At the military cemetery in Ypres, they brought a piece of home to the fallen by sprinkling earth brought from the Caribbean on the graves of the fallen.  Through preserving individual legacies, the organisation ensures no story is lost, enhancing visibility for ethnic minority serving members and veterans, affirming their collective contributions to the Armed Forces. 

The passionate team at BWIRHT, drawn from diverse military backgrounds and cultural experiences, is united by a shared commitment to recognise those of African Caribbean descent in military history. Their work underscores the importance of looking to the past to inform the future. 

Maj Daljinder Singh Virdee MBE

Major Daljinder Singh Virdee MBE stands among less than ten turban-wearing Sikh Officers in the British Army today and his journey epitomises unwavering determination, fuelled by a profound aspiration to influence positive change. Despite lacking representation and encountering discouragement, Maj Virdee attributes his personal growth to the Army’s enriching opportunities. 

Driven by gratitude and the desire to give back by ensuring that all are encouraged to consider a military career regardless of background, Maj Virdee has a strong presence within Defence and Inclusion networks. As former chair of the Defence Sikh Network, Maj Virdee transformed it into a leading D&I network, and also founded the British Army Panjabi Union. He has found many tangible ways to champion inclusion, authoring the world’s first Armed Forces Sikh Dress Guide in 2021 and reintroducing the provision of military designed Sikh religious texts. He is currently studying a PhD, looking at a “Novel method in donning the service respirator in diverse people”.  

Maj Virdee’s efforts have inspired innovation for other faith communities to follow and paved the way for minority groups. His enduring mark on the Armed Forces extends beyond national borders and his influence has global reach through collaboration with serving Sikhs in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia, creating invaluable support once considered unattainable. 

Rank Outsiders

Robert Ely and Elaine Chambers were dismissed from the Army for being gay.  

In 1991 they co-founded Rank Outsiders, a self-help group, bringing together members of the LGBTQ+ community who had been separated from their military family as a consequence of the ban on gay people in the Armed Forces.  

The group campaigned over 9 years until the ban was lifted in January 2000.  

Showing an unwavering determination, they established phone networks, organised mass mail outs, write-ins to MPs, government and media to support and advance the campaign to lift the ban. A collaboration with Ed Hall, founder of the Armed Forces Legal Challenge Group, led to subsequent cases in the High Court and ECHR. 

By 2020, Fighting With Pride, a new LGBT+ Military Charity, was established to continue the work of Rank Outsiders within the Military and Veteran Family. 

Tenaciously articulating the needs of others in the face of opposition and great personal sacrifice, the members of Rank Outsiders remain inspirational ambassadors for the British Military today. Their selfless and diligent campaigning resulted in a transformed military. None are more deserving of high recognition for the diversity in today’s British military. 

Congratulate the finalists and join in with our celebrations on social media: #SoldieringOnAwards

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