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IW Mardi Gras uncovers live Heritage link

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The celebrated Indian Architect Bhai Ram Singh’s great granddaughter was the guest of the New Carnival Company this week as she visited the Island to support the 2017 Mardi Gras ‘Reflections of India’ education project.  The education project, funded by the Heritage Lottery, is investigating the Isle of Wight’s connections to India, through Queen Victoria and Osborne House, as part of a National programme marking 70 years of India’s Independence.

Rosie (Rajinder) Kaur Sohal spent the day at Osborne House where she delighted children from Greenmount Primary School with family stories, facts and fun anecdotes about her great grandfather’s time as Chief Architect of the celebrated Durbar Room. “He was a very gentle, kind and modest man’ Rosie explained “but also a perfectionist and paid great attention to detail. He came to Isle of Wight from India for two months work and ended up staying for two years. Queen Victoria, who was Empress of India at that time, was very kind to him and was very concerned for his welfare, what he would eat and how he would adjust to the cooler climate.”

Rosie also visited children at Oakfield Primary School, who are studying the Durbar Room in preparation for making and presenting costumes on that theme at The Mardi Gras.

New Carnival Company’s Frankie Goldspink who is coordinating the Mardi Gras project said “Rosie, who lives in London and works as an aeronautic engineer, found out about our project by reading an article in the County Press and contacted us directly. Her family are all behind us! Everybody working on the Mardi Gras Heritage project was so excited about her visit from Osborne House Education staff and volunteers, through to the teachers, artists and the children. The visit has brought our island history to life. ”

Sarah Smallwood Butler, class teacher at Greenmount  Primary  said “meeting Rosie really was the icing on the cake for us all and we can’t thank her enough for allowing us time to meet and for sharing her knowledge.”

Rosie will revisit the Island on July 1st, to enjoy the Mardi Gras ‘Reflections of India’ parade and hopes to bring along other members of her family, including her father Sant Singh Sohal, grandson of Bhai Ram Singh, who is approaching 90 years of age.

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