Banchory pupils support Nepal project

A DEESIDE primary school has thrown its weight behind a project to build a new school and boarding hostel for children in a deprived part of Nepal.

Youngsters at Banchory Primary School have launched an enterprise project called Banchory Helps Helambu (BHH), which will see them fundraising throughout the year.

Banchory GP Dr Mike Steven has been raising money for the Helambu Project since witnessing the harsh living conditions endured by locals in Nepal when he trekked through the Sindhuplachok district of Helambu during the filming of BBC2's Extreme Dreams in the summer of 2007. His son Rory is in class P4D at Banchory Primary, who are raising the cash.

Banchory Primary School deputy headteacher, Lynn Service, said: "The children have been 100% enthusiastic and what's great about it is that this school is being built as we speak and we'll get progress reports throughout the year.

"The pupils feel the money they are raising is making a difference and because it's a live project, they can see where it's being spent, on things like buying stones for the building or a yak."

The youngsters held a coffee morning for parents in school last Thursday, at which P1-3 pupils recited poems. P4D pupils gave a PowerPoint presentation to around 200 parents on the on the work they have done for BHH.

Donations were given and the PTA made a Hallowe'en cake to raffle. Around 400 was raised in total.

Dr Steven was also to talk to youngsters about the project at their assemblies.

Children will get the chance to wear bright and colourful socks or tights in return for taking along a donation for Helambu.

"We started off by looking at the project Dr Steven has been involved with and we thought it was good because he was raising funds for a school, and we are a school, so they could identify with that," said Mrs Service.

"Many of the pupils know Dr Steven and they wanted to help him make money for the Helambu Project."

As part of the enterprise project, class members were split into teams, each with different jobs, such as a management team, events team, entertainment team, workers, presenting team and advertising.

The class has also been working on calendars featuring portraits created by the children themselves, which will be sold to parents in the run-up to Christmas.

For World Book Day in March, the youngsters will make bookmarks featuring digital images of themselves.

"I've told the pupils how proud I am of them, because this is quite a difficult project - doing a PowerPoint presentation in front of 200 parents is not easy and they've done really well," said Mrs Service.

The current fundraising total for the Helambu Project now stands at more than 15,000 - a total which could rise by as much as 7,000 over the next month.

Work began on the Nepalese school in September and more than 30 labourers are working away to complete the building, with an estimated completion date of spring 2009. The school will be built completely by hand, although funding the purchase of a few yaks will help to ease some of the strain.

To donate to the project, send a cheque made payable to 'Helambu Project' to the Bank of Scotland, 70 High Street, Banchory, AB31 5SS. Cash can also be handed in directly to Banchory Group Practice, Bellfield, Banchory, AB31 5XS, marked FAO Mike Steven.