Two former pupils of Sedbergh School returned home from Nepal just days after the country’s devastating earthquake. Phoebe Hollings (R), 18, from Cumrew, near Carlisle, and Roger Strachan (H), 19, from Thorner, Leeds, were both in the country as part of their Gap Year. Moved by the survival of their friends and the suffering of the Nepalese, Sedbergh School pupils and staff raised and donated just over £1,000 to the Disasters Emergency Committee last week and both Roger and Phoebe continue to raise funds through their own Just Giving websites.
Roger Strachan had been teaching English at the Chandi School in Besi Ahar, a rural area in the Lamjung district. He said: “When the earthquake hit, I was on the second floor of a Kathmandu restaurant with four friends. We felt the building shake violently and hid under a table whilst the walls around us started cracking and falling. It lasted for around 10 seconds and there were aftershocks for the next two days. We went out and saw panic everywhere in the streets. The area we were in was popular with tourists and people were running away from the buildings that looked unstable. Nepalese people were closing their shops. It was probably nearly six hours later that we realised the extent of the damage as we had no wifi or phone connection. We only started hearing about the mass casualties later in the day. I am relieved to be safely home but am devastated for the Nepalese people and I am constantly worried about the welfare of the children I taught and the colleagues I worked with there, as I know aid workers are struggling to reach remote towns and clean water will be scarce. I feel a great debt to the people who looked after me out there and have a great affection for the culture and country – I wish to help the Nepalese however I can now.”
Phoebe Hollings was meant to be teaching at a school in Maling, in the Lamjung district last week. She is currently completing a sponsored walk with her mother, in Scotland, and said: “When the earthquake hit, I was with Roger and we were lucky enough to be in a safe building. Although it was a terrifying experience, we all came out unharmed. We were looked after until we could be evacuated from the country – many have not been this lucky. We have friends who are too afraid to re-enter their homes for fear of aftershocks. I spent 10 wonderful weeks with the Nepalese and had planned to stay until June, however, following the earthquake, I came home. With the people affected by this in mind, I am completing a 20-mile walk with my mother in order to support The Juniper Trust. Every penny raised for this wonderful charity goes directly to those working with children and in education.”
Phoebe and Roger’s fundraising activity with their four friends has already reached more than £4,000 and they are aiming to raise £10,000. Funds raised will go to the Disaster Emergency Committee, which is directing the aid work of British charities working in Nepal. Phoebe is fundraising for The Juniper Trust as well and has raised more than £1,000 already.
Sedbergh School Headmaster Andrew Fleck said: “Phoebe and Roger are incredibly lucky to have come through the Nepalese earthquake unscathed and to have returned home. Their concern for the Nepali people and all those left behind reflects the deep friendships they made out there and we are pleased that the Sedbergh community is supporting the DEC fund in its relief work.”
Hayley Christy, Housemistress to Phoebe Hollings during her time at Sedbergh said: “Phoebe was a fantastic Deputy Head of House last year and a school prefect. A wonderful talented young lady who excelled academically and musically. She is also extremely resilient but with a very caring side to her nature and she will have been extremely moved by what she has experienced in Nepal. I urge people to support her fundraising efforts.”
To donate to this fundraising effort, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/earthquakenepalappeal/