1. ITV Report

‘Dream big, think big’: The story of Britain’s first female Sikh MP

Preet Gill made history when she won the labour seat for Edgbaston Credit: ITV News Central

When I lost my father three years ago, it was his dream for me to become a Member of Parliament, and I knew then that this was something I really wanted to do.

– Preet Gill MP for Edgbaston

Preet Gill made history when she won the labour seat for Edgbaston. She became the first ever female Sikh to become an MP in Britain. She beat Tory rival Caroline Squire by almost 7,000 votes.

Her achievement sent ripples through social media as messages of congratulations flooded in from all over the world including Canada, America and India.

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Unlike many politicians the new MP did not have a privileged start in life. She was the eldest of seven children.

Her father, Daljeet Singh Shergill was a bus driver while Mother Kuldeep Kaur Shergill was a seamstress.

Gill had a traditional working class upbringing - from an early age she helped look after her brothers and sisters.

Family photo of Preet with her parents and brothers and sisters Credit: Family handout

She attended the local comprehensive Lordswood Girls High School and went onto Bournville College to study Psychology and Sociology A-Levels. During her time at college she was elected student president.

Being the eldest daughter of seven children there was a cultural and familial expectation for her to get married first but she refused.

It was this choice that led her to study at the University of East London where she was awarded a first class honours degree in social work and sociology. Post graduation she chose to travel and consequently lived in a Kibbutz in Israel and worked with street children in Delhi.

In 1999 she left London and returned to the Midlands. Gill says her father is her main source of inspiration. Daljeet Singh was president of the Sikh Gurdwara on Smethwick High Street for 18 years. Gill says her father was always helping people in the community.

Gill's father passed away three years ago aged 70 years old. It was his untimely death that prompted Gill to fulfill her dream of becoming an MP.

Preet Gill was raised a Sikh and doesn't shy away from the importance the faith has played in her life.

She says her father taught her the principles of the faith which have helped her in her professional life.

Selfless service or volunteering at the Gurdwara is a part of her family's way of life.

Preet Gill volunteering at the Gurdwara alongside her family Credit: ITV News Central

Gill was elected as councillor for the Labour Party in December 2012. Even though a quarter of Sandwell's population comprises of Sikhs, she is the only female Sikh woman councillor out of 72 councillors.

Why has it taken so long for a female Sikh MP to enter parliament? Gill believes this is partly because the Sikh community doesn't encourage their children to enter politics. She said:

There’s something here about the Sikh community ourselves that we need to reflect upon. Actually we need to push our young people into this side as well, to be active and engaged in politics, it’s so important.

– Preet Gill MP for Edgbaston

In 2009 Gill married her husband Sureash Chopra who is also a social worker. They have two daughters aged 5 and 7.

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