Hello England: A Biography of Balwant K Swani
by Mohan S. Swani
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Balwant Kaur was bom in Gujranwala, near Lahore in India in 1912 or 1913 and was spiritual from an early age. In May 1939, she arrived in North field, Birmingham with her three children, to join her doctor husband. Little did anyone realise the impact this quiet, sari-wearing woman would have on so many people. Family and friends would go to her with their concerns and her advice helped start many successful businesses. She brought marriage partners together, sometimes even paying for the wedding and hosting it in her own home. She recognized the need for a Gurdwara (Sikh temple) and was a spark that helped to form a Gurdwara in Smethwick, the largest in Europe. She was its first president. An extensive and varied property portfolio was acquired under her auspices including: two hotels; a nightclub; a grouse moor; a holiday camp with salmon fishing; a nursing home and restaurants. She also became the largest private landlord for students of Birmingham University. Not bad for an immigrant woman who had never been to school or received any formal education. Her secret, she said, was her love of God who guided her and to live by her holy book, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.