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June - July 2004


Spotlight

Queen Elizabeth Briefed About Sai Education Programme

Sai School of Harrow, one of the most popular weekend Schools in United Kingdom which delivers the Sai Education programme to 500 pupils on Saturday mornings was selected to perform for Her Majesty the Queen on her recent visit to Harrow to celebrate this famous Borough's 50th Anniversary as a recognised London Borough.

After discussions with the Local Council on the image our Monarch should get from our Organisation, the five human values (love, peace, truth, righteousness and non violence) were at the top of the agenda followed by two dances embracing the eastern and western cultures.



In June 2002, Sai School had also performed for the Queens Golden Jubilee Celebrations participating in the parade that ended up on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace for the grand finale, so they were delighted to be invited again.

In February 2004, the lucky pupils who were selected to perform started rigorous rehearsals to ensure their items were "fit for the Queen". A Sai devotee who is lovingly refered to as Major Billy because of his army career was summoned to train young boys to march to our national anthem. The famous music by Elgar, Land of Hope and Glory was selected for the Union Jack Dance and Vande Mataram version from the hit film K3G was the choice for the Indian dance.

Security was of paramount importance as we would be in close contact with Her Majesty and each child and teacher accompanying had to provide personal identities prior to the event. A week prior to the event, we were shown our positions at the Town Centre, and we were disappointed that ours was the last item on the agenda, but considering that the other three schools were mainstream and ours was the only supplementary School, we considered our good fortune and went along with it.

On 1st April 2004, Sai School volunteers arrived at the Harrow Town Centre by 6.30am in the morning to decorate our open canopied area, and the area was flooded with army officers and security chaps ensuring safety for the Monarch and all the citizens who would turn out to welcome her. Metal rails were put up so that royal fans could stand behind the rails, whilst the participants were given central aisles where Her Majesty would come for a walk about and watch the items.

The four schools participating had to be in place by 11.00am and start entertaining the crowds and have warm up sessions before the royal entourage arrived at 12.00noon. As the Sai School participants entered the town centre in a procession with our Love All, Serve All Banner with young boys holding value banners, girls in union jack hats and the Indian dancers, the crowds broke into huge applause and we could hear the cameras clicking and the excitement building up.

At 11.15am Sai School pupils started entertaining the large crowds that had gathered. A low flying helicopter was heard at five minutes to twelve who contacted ground control and a police officer informed us that the royal limousine had just pulled into the town centre, and she would soon be here.

Nerves, excitement, adrenalin began to flow and most of us thought of Sai Baba at that point and how everyone feels as He steps out for darshaans. Would the Queen approach us, would she stop to talk to us, will she take notice, will she walk on this side or that side? As we were in a secluded area, we saw her from a distance and before we knew it, one of the most famous faces in the world was smiling at our little boys holding the value banners and saluting her,

"You are from Sai School," she beamed. All the eleven boys saluted her and she read the five values. "Should we all bow to Her Majesty," commanded their teacher. All the boys did the perfect bow and the Mayor of Harrow then introduced the Head Teacher to Her Majesty who was very interested in the School and its activities. The Headmistress briefed the monarch on their education programme, the success it brings to the pupils and the community as a whole.

She had practised to curtsey for a whole week praying that she would get the opportunity this time, as due to the crowds during the Golden Jubilee, it was impossible to get too close, and graciously Her Majesty allowed her to do a full curtsey, before moving on to watch our other two items. She watched the Union Jack dance and stopped to talk to the pupils, then moved on to watch our Vande Mataram dance and seemed mesmerised by their colourful costumes, jewellery and dance movements.

What we did not realise until the actual day was the final duty HRH would perform was the official opening of the plaque ceremony, and we noticed the plaque located very close to our canopy. An hour before kick off, an official hurriedly came to inform us that when Her Majesty goes on the podium for the official opening, could the Sai School pupils stand around the platform as we were closest to the area. As she climbed the steps to pull the curtain and officially open the plaque of Harrow 50th celebrations, Sai School pupils ran forward and stood around the Queen. They only got this privilege as they were the last item on the agenda. Before the royals were whisked off, the Duke of Edinburgh stopped to talk to some of the pupils. There was so much cheering and applause, and we all waved until the plum coloured limousine finally disappeared from our sight.

What impressed everyone most was how warm, humble and soft spoken HRH was, she made each one of us feel very special and it will be a day to remember for the rest of our lives. As for Sai School pupils, no one could wipe the smile off their faces that day. Please see the attached photos so you can share our special moments with us. If you want to find out more about Sai School of Harrow, please log onto www.saischool.com


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