War  |  Memory  |  Gratitude

KET visit to the Cameron Association

KET visit to the Cameron Association

 

KET CEO was delighted to be invited to speak at the Officers' Dinner Club, formerly the Cameron Association, held at the Drumrossie Hotel in Inverness on 7th June 2024.

Wearing her dress of Cameron tartan, in tribute to her audience and also to her late father who was himself a soldier in the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in 1944, Sylvia spoke to the assembled guests about the work of the Trust and the focus on Remembrance in this 80th anniversary year of the battle of Kohima. 

Sylvia told the guests about the beginnings of KET:

"It was 20 years ago that veterans of the 2nd Division were planning the 60th Anniversary events. The planning committee had decided that the 60th would be the last of the annual weekends to be organised and hence were going to go out with a bang! But my father, Gordon Graham, who had been thinking about this for a long time, said, and I quote:

"Memory is a great gift which we all share and which too often we take for granted. Like dreams, memories come unbidden. Unlike dreams, they are calls to action. In addition to their basic message about the continuity of life and their evocations of nostalgia or regret, they pose the question: How can we use the past to benefit the future?’ Memory in itself is not enough, it is what we do with it that matters."

"And so, KET was born. Together with fellow veterans and the then serving officers of 2nd Division they  resolved to found the Kohima Educational Trust (KET) as a debt of honour to the Naga people. The trust is seen by its founders, both as a means of sustaining the memory of the courage and sacrifice of those who fought and died in the battle, but also of honouring the Nagas who were their allies in the war, through assisting the education of succeeding generations of Naga children.

"Over the last 21 years, we have awarded over 850 scholarships to Naga children from all tribes across the state, trying to reach as many rural places as we can. Your association has been hugely supportive of this programme for which we are enormously grateful.

"We have run seven 'Mind Your Health' Programmes, when our Chairman in Kohima, a doctor, has organised basic health care clinics in the most rural of villages bringing together around 30 women at a time and teaching them the basics in recognising high blood pressure and diabetes, both killer diseases in Nagaland. Basic first aid and hygiene is also taught, plus ante-natal care and birth control.

"We have built a hostel in remote Pangsha high up on the Burmese border to help accommodate children who have to travel many miles to the one local school. Currently housing staff as the costs of housing the children have gone up and the village to whom we donated the hostel are struggling, which is something for us do deal with in the future.

"We have also donated a general reference library which is housed in the central library in Kohima, and a military one which is with KES, who are our fellow organisation in Kohima. We have given dictionaries to schools, run essay competitions and just before Covid, launched the Gordon Graham Prize for Naga Literature to help promote Naga writers, Naga idea givers and Naga influencers.

"But for now we continue to build our supporter group and focus on remembrance and raising awareness of Kohima whilst passing our knowledge and information on to others. Instead of dwindling distant memories, more and more people want to learn about their forefathers and makes us realise the vital importance of remembrance.

"Every time I go to Kohima - twice this year already! - I also visit the Cameron Memorial, which is situated at the top of what was called Hill 5120, now deeply embedded in the Naga Village community.

"As some of you know, a building is being erected immediately behind it but I have talked to the man who owns the building site and he is more than aware of the importance of this memorial. He wants to make a feature of it on the side of the new building and there is no doubt in my mind that it is cared for and the local people are honoured to have it on their doorstep."

KET would like to thank the Officers' Dinner Club, formerly the Cameron Association for their kind welcome to Inverness and for their continued support. 

 

Read more

A real tennis court battle which changed history
by Brian Farmer BBC News, Norfolk
Kohima 80th Anniversary Remembrance, York
80th Anniversary events to commemorate the battles of Kohima & Imphal
80th Anniversary Gala Dinner, York
Guest speaker, General The Lord Richard Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL

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