A proud sailor’s son has just become the first Asian in 50 years to join the Bradford Central Branch of the Royal British Legion.
Mahmood Raja, who lives in Haslam Close, Pollard Park, has covered a corner of his house with mementoes from his father’s service days.
Mr Raja, 60, got in touch with the British Legion because he wanted to join their parades and wreath-laying ceremonies wearing his dad’s 18 medals from the British and Pakistan Govern-ments.
“I didn’t know I could wear his medals for him until I read something in the Telegraph & Argus and got in touch with the Bradford branch of the legion.
“I grew up hearing my dad’s stories of his time in the Navy and saw much of his life with my own eyes. He was a lucky and fortunate man and got his medals for everything from bravery to service conduct,” said Mr Raja.
His father, Subab Ali Shan, served from 1941 to 1947 with the British Indian Navy and was then transferred after independence to the Pakistan Navy .
Sadly he died three months into his retirement as a lieutenant commander, aged just 52.
Mr Raja said: “We talk about him often. My daughter recently got a top prize at school as best student after writing an essay all about her grandfather. We are all very proud of his achievements. His name translates as ‘A beautiful morning’ and he was a beautiful man.
Central Branch president James Hargreaves said of Mr Raja: “As far as we’re aware he is the first Asian to join us as a member for more than 50 years. We’ve helped other Muslim ex-service people who have come to us for help through the welfare work we’ve done but not had any who have become members.
“Mr Raja is very proud of the medals he has in his family and wants to be able to show off his pride, which is a very good thing.
“He’s coming to his first meeting on Tuesday and we’ll look forward to getting to know him more and hearing all about his father.”
The Royal British Legion headquarters said it could not confirm 100 per cent that Mr Raja was the first Asian to join the Central Branch in Bradford because it does not record ethnicity among members’ details.
The Bradford Central Branch, which has 122 members, meets at Unit 16 in Listerhills Science Park, Campus Road, Bradford, on the last Tuesday of every month at 1.30pm.
To find out more about joining or supporting the Royal British Legion, call (01274) 726020.