Zahoor Shah - Honorary Member of the British Empire

When British soldiers turned up at the embassy in Kabul following the fall of the Taleban, their path was blocked by an elderly Afghan gentleman. For 12 years, Zahoor Shah [on your right] had tended the roses in the compound, hidden away the ambassadorial silver and barred fighters from entering. It took the British some hours before they could persuade him that the rightful owners had finally returned. By the time the new Charge d'Affaires Stephen Evans and his staff turned up the following day, Mr Shah was properly attired to welcome them. "I arrived on the afternoon of 19 November 2001. We came down the curving drive and pulled up at the entrance of the embassy. "Mr Shah was at the top of the stairs, wearing his white coat with gold buttons and black trousers to greet us," said Mr Evans. He had found heating oil and the old grand table was set for dinner with the ambassadorial china, silver and crystal glasses.

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