The KET Scholarship Awards 2015 took place this year at the same time that a party of 18 soldiers from 2 Signal Regiment were on a battlefield study trip to Nagaland.
As a result of the trip, the Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Ian Hargreaves, a TET Trustee sponsored a Naga student. The Second in Command Major Jim Stillie, and the Regimental Welfare Officer Captain Peter Watson sponsored a student and the Officers, Warrant Officers and Sergeants messes sponsored a third student.
The group arrived on 10 March and the following evening we were met by Salie who went over the programme for the Awards with Ian, myself and Peter Watson.
As we had a number of young soldiers with us, it was thought it would be good if they could be involved in some way, and we agreed that we would turn up to the hall on the day when Salie was setting everything up for a run through to be able offer any assistance.
It was then that we met Dr Ngully and Pfelie and it was decided that only Ian and I would present the scholarships but that a soldier would hand each student a poppy as they stepped off the stage.
On the day of the awards, the group held a memorial service in front of the 2nd Division Memorial. Dr Ngully and his niece also attended. Despite the fact that Dr Ngully didn't get back to Kohima until 12 March, he was able to arrange for a bugler from the Assam Rifles to be in attendance. It was a really good short service and the padre was excellent.
Before going to the presentation, I explained in more detail just what the KET does and how much the Nagas value education. I also explained that some of the students would have set out a good 24 hours previously to get there and the same time was needed to get back.
The Awards Presentation went very well. This is the third consecutive Scholarships Award that I have been to and it is also Salie’s third event. These last two events have improved over the previous years (and despite whoever else might have been ‘whispering’ in his ear) it is obvious that it is Salie who runs the work side of the show and his attention to detail is apparent by the smooth running of the event. He was helped again by his new wife, his sisters and friends.
There was an excellent quartet of Naga women singing traditional songs and the son of a veteran gave a short speech on behalf of his father who was too ill to travel. Padre Clarke delivered a prayer and said a few words. Ian also spoke, and I explained about the poppy again.
There were also more students in full or part traditional dress. All in all, it was a very full programme and much more interesting and more of an occasion than previously.
Each of the students received a certificate detailing what the KET is about as well as some information about the Battle of Kohima.
Frank Holden had sponsored a student in the name of his uncle Fusilier Frank Holden who was killed in action on 7 May 1944. Frank had given me a photograph of his uncle to hand to the student.
Frank’s uncle was only 25 when he was killed and I thought it was and idea for the scholarship to be awarded by another young soldier aged 20. He was blown away by the experience and says that he would like to sponsor a student next year.
Everyone else plays their part of course, but it is Salie’s attention to detail of this key event in the KET/KES year that makes this occasion run so well. The involvement of the soldiers has brought many positive results, and a number of them say that they would like to sponsor a student for next year.
The soldiers were asked to define the one thing that they enjoyed most about the week. Many said that it was the Scholarship Awards, as it made them realise how important education was for the Naga students, and the fact that a family member was prepared to travel such a long distance to attend the occasion.
They realised that they had just taken these things for granted. One of them said he nearly cried.
Report by Bob Cook