- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
In June 2010 Valerie tabled an Early Day Motion seeking the support of other MPs for the campaign for a permament memorial to Second World War heroine Noor Inayat Khan, in Gordon Square, London. 34 MPs from all parties signed the EDM.
Valerie has been successful in gaining the University of London’s permission for the installation of a memorial sculpture of Noor on land owned by the university in Gordon Square. She has also accepted a request to be a patron of the Noor Inayat Khan memorial trust, along with Dr Julian Lewis MP and Bob Russell MP.
Noor Inayat Khan volunteered to serve in WW2 and was assigned to the Special Operations Executive, Winston Churchill’s secret organisation that sent men and women to work undercover in enemy occupied countries. Based in Paris as a radio operator, as her circuit collapsed around her, she remained the last link with London and refused to abandon her post despite the dangers. She was captured by the Germans and sent to the Concentration Camp at Dachau where she was tortured then executed. She was only 30. Britain posthumously awarded her the George Cross for her extraordinary bravery.
Noor and her family had lived in Gordon Square in the Bloomsbury area of London, land that is now owned by the University of London. As an alumnus of the University of London, and with the backing of 34 MPs across all parties who had signed the Early Day Motion, Valerie wrote to the University to ask if they would grant permission for a memorial sculpture. The University of London kindly agreed. Valerie hopes that the sculpture will be visible in 2012.
Valerie explains why she got involved: “Two aspects of the project made me want to get involved. Firstly, the incredibly affecting story of Noor herself, who did such a difficult job and suffered such a horrific death. In Paris, Noor is seen as a heroine, honoured with a plaque and a square in the town of Suresnes where she grew up. A band plays outside her home on Bastille Day. It seems wrong that she has not yet been honoured in this country, after her work and sacrifice. There has not yet been a memorial to an Asian woman in this country, even though her contemporaries, Violet Szabo, Nancy Wake and Odette Hallowes, have been commemorated in memorials and films.
“Secondly, everyone involved in the project is so enthusiastic and passionate. They are a propelling force which has had a great impact. Signatories to the original petition included successful women in the arts such as film director Gurinder Chadha, academics including Dr Mukulika Banerjee of LSE, campaigners such as Shami Chakrabarti, and those from the world of business and industry, including Gunveena Chadha and Smita Tharoor. It is inspiring to be involved in this venture along with such empowered and successful Asian women.”
The campaign to raise funds for the memorial is now underway. For more information about Noor Inayat Khan and how to make a donation, please see this website: http://www.noormemorial.org/