A British Sikh, who became a social media hit as the Skipping Sikh after he took on skipping and fundraising for the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) in the novel coronavirus lockdown, has been awarded the Points of Light honour by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Rajinder Singh, 73, from Harlington in west London, began filming exercise videos earlier this year, bringing together over 2,50,000 viewers on YouTube, encouraging people to remain active and fundraising over 12,000 pounds for NHS charities.
"Your Skipping Sikh fitness videos have given a lift to the thousands of people worldwide who have watched online and taken part with you in your daily exercise, and provided an ingenious way of bringing together and energising the Sikh community at a time when temples have been closed," said Johnson, in a personal letter addressed to Singh this week.
"I wanted to write personally to thank you for all that you are doing to support our extraordinary NHS, and encouraging the nation to pick up their skipping ropes and keep their spirits high by taking on your lockdown skip challenge," he said.
The award, in recognition of Singh's fundraising efforts and spreading the simple message of "health is wealth" and "stay active and stay happy", marks the 1,410th such award.
Points of Light are outstanding individual volunteers and people making a change in their community, honoured every weekday by the UK PM to recognise their inspirational volunteer work.
"Waheguru ji ka khalsa, waheguru ji ki fateh. I am truly humbled for being awarded the Points of Light award. I love to serve others - it's part of who I am as a Sikh and I love to do sewa (give back)," said Singh, in his response.
"I never thought something like skipping would inspire the world and spread smiles. I'm really grateful for the support and being given this recognition. Thank you to our PM Boris Johnson, God bless you and everyone, I thank everyone for the support and love, and I encourage all to join in the skipping challenge and tag me in @SikhSkipping," he said.
Missing taking his daily exercise, food and prayer with others from the Sikh community at the gurdwara during lockdown, Singh decided to share videos online of his skipping fitness routines and inspire others to keep active with him, particularly those isolating at home due to underlying health conditions.
His tutorials have since become a worldwide phenomenon, and he is encouraging people across the globe to join in his lockdown skip challenge and donate to NHS charities.