Gurdeep Singh obituary

Other lives: Founder of Gurdwara Aid, which provides practical advice to Sikh temples in the UK

My fellow interfaith activist Gurdeep Singh, who has died of a heart attack aged 59, was the co-creator of Gurdwara Aid, a community interest company that helps Sikh temples in the UK to deal with all kinds of administrative chores, from obtaining food safety certification to registering for gift aid and arranging safeguarding training.

Gurdeep set up Gurdwara Aid with a friend, Mandip Singh, in 2019, after having spent a number of years on the committee of his local gurdwara in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, where he became involved in all aspects of its running. Initially the idea was to help and encourage other gurdwaras to claim gift aid, but soon he found himself in demand for advice in lots of other areas, including governance, risk assessments, charity registration and dispute resolution.

Gurdeep was born in Pragpur in the Punjab, India, to Ajit Singh, a till installer at a computer company, and Surjit Kaur, a factory worker, who emigrated to Britain in 1964 and settled in Hitchin. After attending Hitchin Boys’ school, Gurdeep studied telecommunications engineering at Kingston Polytechnic (now Kingston University), graduated in 1984 and worked as an a engineer with GEC Plessey Telecommunications until 1989.

Settling for the rest of his life in Stevenage, after two years with Mercury Communications as a maintenance engineer he moved into management at Nortel Networks (1991-94), Telewest (1994-97) and various other telecoms companies, including Tekmark, until, through his gurdwara contacts, he became involved with the Sikh Channel television station in 2012.

At the invitation of the channel’s proprietor, Gurdeep presented a weekly programme called Sikh Spectrum, in which he interviewed Sikhs from all walks of life. The show ran for two years, during which time Gurdeep co-founded the Khanda Poppy project to honour the Sikh contribution in the two world wars. Eventually the Sikh Channel appointed him as head of operations, and later CEO, and he remained there until he set up Gurdwara Aid.

Gurdeep brought to his new venture great business sense, an enormous smile, a big heart and the ability to look for the best in everyone. Gurdwara Aid conferences were always packed because they reflected his caring and committed attitude, backed up by admirable professionalism.

During the first Covid lockdown, the company was instrumental in setting up a group to provide Sikh feedback to the government via a special taskforce, advising on timings for the re-opening of places of worship. Gurdeep also built an online network of Sikh support, the smile shining as bright as ever each Sunday over Zoom, on which he would help to share and solve problems.

When PPE became short he quickly found a donor and ensured that masks, aprons and gel were delivered in generous quantities not just to gurdwaras, but to mosques, synagogues, churches and other temples.

Gurdeep is survived by his wife, Kalvinder Kaur, whom he married in 1988, a son, Jeevan, daughter, Pavenn, and three granddaughters.

Maurice Ostro

The GuardianTramp

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