Joanna Lumley may not have served in the British Army but she showed true grit when she campaigned on behalf of Gurkha rights to settle in the United Kingdom. Actress, Lumley, is widely famed for her inebriated Patsy character in the Absolutely Fabulous sitcom and the character Purdey in the New Avengers. She started her show business career as a 1960s model and was catapulted to fame when she appeared as a Bond Girl in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Joanna Lumley Leads Gurkha Justice Campaign
Joanna Lumley’s leadership of the campaign for Gurkha rights was prompted by an appeal from Gurkha Justice Campaigner Peter Carroll, who was aware of her family links to the well-known fighting regiment. Joanna’s father, Major James Rutherford Lumley, was a senior army officer with a Gurkha Regiment in India up to the time of Indian independence in 1947. Lumley is one of Britain’s best-loved figureheads and her no-nonsense attitude appeals to men and women alike. Fronting the Gurkha Justice Campaign allowed Joanna to pay back her family debt to the Gurkhas. Gurkha soldier, Tul Bahadur Pul saved her father’s life during World War II.
The Gurkha Regiments have fought for the British for nearly 200 years and over 50,000 Gurkha soldiers have been killed while serving. Joanna Lumley breathed life into the Gurkha Justice Campaign with her outspoken comments on retired Gurkha rights to live in the United Kingdom.
Actress Joanna Lumley was Born in Kashmir in 1946
It is unsurprising that Joanna Lumley has such affection for the Gurkhas, India and the East as she was born in Srinagar, Kashmir in May 1946. Her family have strong links with the Middle East and the Far East, and her grandfather was a prominent banker in India. The link to India was so strong that Lumley has stated that her parents “often conversed in Hindustani”.
After India gained independence, Joanna’s family moved to Hong Kong and Malaya. Joanna’s memories of Asia are tinged with love and respect for the country and people and she obviously absorbed a great deal from her upbringing. To Lumley the East was a magical and happy place with “hot dusty roads, monsoons, flowers that blossom and die in a night, trees that grow four feet in a week”. Joanna seems to have taken on board much of the Hindu reverence for animals herself. Her mother taught her that “every living creature deserves love and respect and that belief is at the centre of Joanna’s philosophy”.
Joanna Lumley was eight years old when she left the East and the family relocated to Britain. She freely admits that she spent her formative years in the Far East and states: “Once your senses have been exposed to the Far East you yearn for the night noise of the Tropics”.
Joanna Lumley’s leadership of the Gurkha Justice Campaign helped publicise the plight of many of the Gurkha’s who had fought for Britain prior to 1997 and were denied any right to live in the United Kingdom. She stated that the Gurkha’s had suffered a great wrong and that refusal to allow former members of Gurkha regiments to settle in Britain was “a national shame that has stained us all”. Within a few weeks of launching an online petition, 250,000 people had pledged support for the Gurkhas. On 21 May 2009 the British Government announced that all Gurkha’s who had served four years or more in the British Army would be allowed to settle in Britain.
Joanna Lumley is patron and supporter of a number of charities, including Tree Aid and Venture Trust Nepal. On a visit to Nepal in July 2009, she was cheered and labelled a “Daughter of Nepal” by fans and Gurkha supporters at the airport.