By Zaharah Othman | London

UK CELEBRATING OUR INDEPENDENCE: Malaysians and Londoners join in the annual celebration with fun, food and games

Adira and Nubhan of Akademi Fantasia belting out a duet during the carnival.

THE Merdeka Carnival brought more than 1,000 people to the Tun Abdul Razak Rubber Research Centre in Brickendonbury last Saturday for the annual day of fun, food and games, and most importantly for some; a walk down memory lane.
As the last of the summer sun shone down on the sprawling fields of the Malaysian-owned property, an hour's drive to the west of London, Malaysians from all over the United Kingdom and locals nearby enjoyed the long-day carnival, hosted by the Malaysian High Commission in the UK.
More than 20 food stalls offered a variety of Malaysian fares, including murtabak, satay, nasi lemak and apam balik.
Children enjoyed the tea-cup ride and had their face painted, while adults lazed in the sun enjoying cultural performances. Highlight of this year's event was the performance by Adira and Nubhan of Akademi Fantasia.
"It was indeed an honour to perform here. It is our first time performing so far away from home and the reception was wonderful," said Adira who belted out the popular theme song from the film Ombak Rindu with Nubhan.
"It was nice to see not only Malaysians, but also the local people enjoying the day," Nubhan added.
Every year, members of The Borneo Malaya Veterans Association join in the revelry to rekindle their fond memories of Malaya.
A group of them turned up wearing their Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal proudly, given to them by the Malaysian government for their service during the Emergency.
For John Malcolm Moore, 71, who served with the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, the Merdeka Carnival has become a must visit. He had served in Terendak Camp, Malacca, and Borneo.
"I had a wonderful time in Malaysia," said Moore, who was in Malaysia in 1962 and 1966. It was during his service in Malacca that he met Lee Sing Neo, who was only 17 then, and fell in love with her.
"Next year, we are going back to Malaysia to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary," said Sing Neo, adding that their daughter also married a Malaysian.
For Yusof Ghani, 82, the Tun Abdul Razak Rubber Research Centre is just a stone's throw away from his house and never failed to visit the Merdeka Carnival.
The raising of the flag and the singing of the national anthem brought him memories of the day he stood at Malaya House in Trafalgar Square on Aug 31, 1957. He was among a group of Malaysians witnessing the lowering down of the Union Jack at Malaya House, which is now the office of the Malaysian Tourism Board, and the raising of the Malayan flag.
He was in London for a month, having come to the country of his British fiance, whom he met in Malaya.
"My wife was a nurse with the Red Cross in Labis. I used to help her as an interpreter and sometimes, drove her to visit her patients. We fell in love," said Yusof of his wife Betty who died several years ago.
The carnival was opened by High Commissioner Datuk Seri Zakaria Sulong. The guest of honour was Deputy Mayor of Herfordshire, Paul Brenham.