Baba Ji will be greatly missed

Gurjit Singh Sehmi BSc (Hons) MCOptom, Specsavers, Heathway, Dagenham, writes:

Baba Sant Partap Singh Ji, affectionally known as Baba Ji, has died.

Baba Ji was the leader and head priest of Gurdwara Karamsar, a Sikh temple, which is based in Ilford, but served many areas including the community of Dagenham, since he established it in the 90s.

He is from a lineage of great Sikh Saints based at Rara Sahib Village, Punjab, India, which is where he initially served the Saints and congregation. He then established the UK branch of this great institution. All were welcome to come and speak to him, get his advice on any matters, no matter what faith they belonged to. He ensured everyone felt comfortable, and that all ate in the free kitchen (all Sikh temples serve free food).

He had been a customer of the store for the last 10 years. He would always come back as he felt we gave him great service, and he thought that we were all very patient. He would often personally recommend me to people who came to see him.

The store and staff really liked him because he would come and speak to everyone humbly like a friend- despite his high position. Once when he came to collect his glasses and he brought enough freshly cooked pizzas for all of the staff.

At other times he would bring sweets and treats to say thank you to the store and staff. If any of us were ever feeling a bit low, he would give us some advice and guidance, that would help us get through those phases in life. He spoke very gently but each of his sentences were full of wisdom and enlightenment.

He would always be very complimentary to each staff member who helped him, which made all of the staff feel like they were being given recognition and respect for the work they were doing. He will be missed by everyone at Dagenham Specsavers.

He was very knowledgeable, he was very talented, he could play multiple instruments, he could sing, and gave great sermons to the congregation.

To me he was an inspirational figure, a teacher and a guide. His teachings will live on forever but he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Surgeon left his mark on humanity

Dr Leonard Restall B Ed, M Ed (Hons), New Zealand, formerly from Barking, writes:

The number of wonderful acts of compassion and goodness emerging from this pandemic is becoming a regular feature within the Post, but this is what such tough times do. It brings out the very best of a community. It is within many people, but not all - the gift of compassion.

This gift has the characteristic that people who possess this have a great desire to use it and they are delighted to use it. They want to help a person or people in distress and relieve them of their troubles somewhat at the giver’s expense, but not without personal effort and sacrifice.

Great acts of heroism in times of crisis, or for this pandemic time, has produced many remarkable acts of kindness, giving and compassion as if it is a natural thing to do for us all, but it is not as easy as that.

Certainly within the nature of mankind can be found the characters to give help for the unfortunate and to comfort the distressed. Compassionate people give empathy rather than just being sorry and become a great help to anyone distressed.

Last week we had the account of retired surgeon Kandiah Retnakumar, died as a result of returning to the hospital to help his colleagues because of the increasing backlog of surgeries required and himself succumbing to the Covid virus.

The safety of the patients was more important to Kandiah than to himself. This was the sacrifice of one to save many.

It was no wonder that he was highly praised by his colleagues as being a conscientious and great surgeon together with being a friend.

He died not in vain but that many would live. That is the nature of compassion, not to just feel sorry but to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of others.

We can do none other than to praise the memory of such a sacrifice in the interests of others. Kandiah your sacrifice was not in vain. You have left your mark in humanity.

Symptoms? You must self-isolate

Barking and Dagenham Post: Test and Trace leader baroness Dido Harding says that a significant amount of people are not self-isolatingTest and Trace leader baroness Dido Harding says that a significant amount of people are not self-isolating (Image: PA Archive/PA Images)

Unmesh Desai, London Assembly member for City and East, writes:

Baroness Dido Harding, who leads the government’s struggling Test and Trace scheme, has finally acknowledged what we have known for a long time – that a significant number of people are not self-isolating with Covid-19 symptoms for financial reasons.

In fact, a recent government-funded study has revealed that, during the first lockdown, just 18 per cent of respondents in the UK with a temperature, a continuous cough or loss of smell and taste had stayed home as the guidelines ask.

Whilst there will be multiple reasons behind these findings, and I really do urge those with symptoms to isolate, there are actions the government could be taking right now to increase compliance with the rules.

In recent weeks, we have heard concerns from councils about the government’s current self-isolation payment system.

Some case studies have shown that local authorities are rejecting the majority of applications because the criteria are too narrow, whilst other already cash-strapped councils have spent millions of pounds of their own money to meet surging demand and amidst a shortfall in funding from government.

For the sake of our community’s safety, the government must urgently fix these issues, or raise Statutory Sick Pay so it is in line with the London Living Wage.

Run the marathon for Macmillan

Lynda Thomas, CEO Macmillan Cancer Support and London Marathon runner (2018), writes:

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a complete beginner, taking on the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon is a huge personal challenge.

Regardless of time or ability, not only can each of the 100,000 participants who sign up for this year’s record-breaking event feel immensely proud of their achievement, but also every pound raised and every step taken towards that finish line directly enables charities like Macmillan Cancer Support to edge closer to their aim to be there for everyone who needs it most.

For the lucky runners who have a ballot spot in this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon, please do consider joining Team Macmillan, and for those who may have missed out, there is still time to apply for a Macmillan charity place. Visit