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Sikhs offer food to stranded truckers beside England's white cliffs

Clothes and towels hang to dry on a lorry at Ashford International Truck Stop, as EU countries impose a travel ban from the UK following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Ashford, Britain December 22, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

DOVER, England (Reuters) - When thousands of truckers were stranded in southern England by France’s border closure, help came from an unexpected source: a small volunteer army of British Sikhs who jumped into action to rustle up thousands of chickpea curries and pizzas.

Up to 10,000 truckers are stranded as they wait for COVID-19 tests to allow them to travel on to the Continent, while their families gather thousands of miles away for Christmas.

“We in Sikhism, we have the concept of langar, which means community kitchen,” Ravinder Singh, founder of Khalsa Aid, which helped coordinate the deliveries, told Reuters.

“We are British Sikhs and the least we can do is to practise our seasonal goodwill: two days from Christmas we have people on our soil who are homeward bound and do not know what is happening.”

Many truck drivers have been eating through their last provisions on the side of the road.

“To see a solitary truck driver in his cabin on a horrible wet evening on the side of the motorway, it drives you to do more for them,” Singh said.

“They were very appreciative but you could see they were down as they were unsure if they would get home for Christmas.”

Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Mike Collett-White