ELDERLY Gurkhas who patrol the streets of Swindon to keep their community safe have been thanked for their dedication.

Each week, the group of 20 senior citizen volunteers – 18 of whom come from the Nepalese community in Walcot – spend two hours walking the streets, looking out for things that could pose a risk to public safety.

Yesterday, more than 120 Gurkhas, their families and their supporters, gathered in the Buckhurst Park Community Centre in Walcot, to show their appreciation for the hard work that the volunteers have done since the launch of the initiative three years ago.

Lal Sundar Rai, senior citizen co-ordinator of the Nepalese Association, said: “It’s very good and not expected and it was wonderful that the borough council representatives were able to come and offer that recognition to the volunteers.

“It is not easy for the senior citizens to go there every week, especially in the winter when it gets very cold. But they do it so that everyone is safe and that homes, garages and businesses are all secure. It is a very special day because it’s three years since they started, and it’s good for them to know how much they are appreciated in the community.”

Street Watch was set up in 2011 to monitor crime and safety. For two hours each week between 6pm and 8pm, the Street Watch Team patrols Covingham, Nythe, Wanborough, Parks, Walcot, Lawns and Old Town, looking out for litter, fly-tipping, vandalism, graffiti, defective streetlights and much more, which they then report to the council and the police.

Terence Hayward, who leads the volunteers in Swindon, said it was high time the group is recognised. “I went to a meeting three years ago and spoke about Street Watch and asked if any of them wanted to help to keep the community safe,” he said.

“A few signed up straight away, and more have come on over time.

“When we started we’d go out, rain or shine, in just what we were wearing and many of them got very, very cold and dropped out. So I managed to get them our own uniform with a coat and a hat.

“It’s been really good for them because not only are they contributing to the community and getting together but most of them have been in the forces like me so they build up a sense of camaderie among them.”

Certificates were presented to each of the volunteers by Cllr Emma Faramarzi, Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety.