Dalai Lama, Aldershot


It doesn’t matter where you work as a journalist, each and every local news patch has its quirks responsible for all manner of weird and wonderful goings on – in my case, Aldershot.

This year, Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, paid Aldershot its second visit in just three years, ostensibly to open the town’s long-awaited Buddhist Community Centre.

Aldershot has long been home to a largely Buddhist Nepalese and Gurkha community, a relationship built on decades of militaristic cooperation. The town still houses the Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment, with thousands of its recuits having fought alongside British soldiers in conflict zones all around the world. They are a credit to Nepal, to the British Army, and to Aldershot.

But this relationship has not been without tension, most notably Joanna Lumley’s 2008 Gurkha Justice Campaign seeking greater settlement rights for ex-Gurkha soldiers who have served the Crown, her father having been a Gurkha himself. The result was the arrival of thousands of Gurkha families in Rushmoor borough, an influx many residents believe the borough was not adequately prepared for. I’m not going to tackle the complex ins and outs of this debate here though.

I can only stress it was an honour to cover the Dalai Lama’s visit to the EBB Stadium on Monday where he addressed thousands of supporters.


Cambridge Military Hospital


My job opens a lot of doors, in this instance, doors that first opened in the 1870s and shut permanently in the 1990s.

Grainger Plc is currently transforming a swathe of former military land in Aldershot into the vast 3,850-home ‘Wellesley’ development.

The development is named after the Duke of Cambridge, Arthur Wellesley, who has long been immortalised in Aldershot where a bronze statue of the duke astride his faithful horse Copenhagen watches over the town.

At the heart of the Wellesley development is the famous Cambridge Military Hospital, which opened in 1879 and finally closed in the mid-1990s.

It is as iconic a building as Aldershot will ever boast and canny as ever, Grainger are making the Cambridge a centrepiece of Wellesley – likely to be transformed into desirable flats and apartments.

On Monday, the Aldershot News & Mail was given a rare tour of the now dilapidated hospital ahead of its renovation. You can read my more formal take on that here (images courtesy of my friend and far superior photographer Sophie Garrett).

Below are a few of the pictures I took.