A history of DCWC Nepal in the UK

The wheels were put in motion back in 2002 when Gary met Akka in his Thangka shop in Thamel in Kathmandu. After a great conversation about Buddhism and the art of Thangka painting they got onto talking about Akkas charity DCWC (Development of Children & Women Centre). Akka had started the charity in 2000 and had plenty of ideas for how he would like to improve conditions for the many poor people of Nepal. Akka himself had come from a very humble background having been brought up in Rajbash, a very poor area of Kavre. He had come to kathmandu with just a hundred Rupees in his pocket and by a lot of hard work and good fortune he had managed to secure a sound financial future for himself. He now wanted to put something back.
 
 
     
 
Early photo of Akka in DCWC office, Kathmandu
The old office in the Swayambu area
     
Back in the UK Gary set about raising funds to help Akka and the DCWC. In Easter 2003 Gary along with sister Sharon Jennings and friend Richard Crisp undertook an eighty mile charity walk from Blackpool Tower to Keswick in the North Lakes. This along with other smaller projects raised our first £1100. In May Akka came to visit the UK for the first time and the money was handed over. The cash was used to part fund the school being built by the Swiss at Chetana in Nepal.
     
 
DCWC Nepal Charity walk Blackpool to Keswick, Easter 2003
The walk, along with other activities, raised £1100
     
By May 2003, Gary had followed wife Sharon and resigned from their long time jobs in the Civil service (14 & 15 years respectively). They sold everything they owned and travelled round Europe for 6 months with Walter Collie. It was during this period of time that they hatched the plans to further help the charity and to start their business Pink Lotus (www.pinklotus.co.uk) with a view to trying to help improve the livelihood of Tibetan Buddhist Thangka artists in Nepal.
     
 
Gary distributing clothes in one of the villages, Jan 2004
Gary Laying first brick at Chetana school ceremony
     
By late 2003 Gary and Sharon had amassed over 200kg of donated clothes to be sent to Nepal for distribution there. Due to the high expense of getting the clothes to Nepal, a local newspaper article made a plea for financial help to fly the clothes. With concessions made from the airline, the cargo was taken to Nepal by Gary in January 2004 and distributed to many different schools and villages in very rural and remote areas of Nepal. Gary also did the first brick laying ceremony for Chetana School.
     
 
Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge, March 2004
Akka, Jon, Sharon and Gary taking refuge
     
On returning to the UK more ideas were under way for raising funs and collecting clothes. In March 2004 Akka made his second trip to the UK just in time to take part in our North Yorkshire three peaks challenge. It may have been March but the great British weather didn't let us down. Gary, sister Sharon, Jon Wright and Akka trudged through horrific conditions but were forced to abandon the attempt after second peak Whernside, partly down to the advice of the local ranger who kindly informed us you would have to be stupid to attempt to finish it in that weather. Fortunately the weather was kinder to us in June (but not much) and we managed to complete the challenge without further incident.
     
 
Gary and brother Neil, clothes distribution, May 2004
 
Checking the Chetana school progress , May 2004
     

By May 2004 Gary was back in Nepal with Brother Neil. They had returned to Nepal with more clothes and held clothes distributions at several different villages. Whilst in Nepal we also checked on the progress of Chetana School. The first brick had been laid in January and now it was nearing completion. Though a Swiss project, this also carried UK funding.

     
 
DCWC Nepal Car boot sale, summer 2004
Dave Underwood & Sharon Collier shifting shoes
     
By the summer of 2004 the charity has been established here in the UK by Gary & Sharon and David Underwood. The charity was named after its namesake, Development of Children & Women Centre in Nepal though it was abbreviated down to DCWC Nepal. In those days we were working hard for every penny. The donations of clothing, shoes and other items we could take to Nepal we did. Those we couldn't we sold mainly on car boot sales and the like.
     
 
Jan and Sharon distributing clothes, January 2005
And awarding certificates for womens education courses
     
Gary returned to Nepal in the November, though this was solely to visit Akka and be at his wedding to Chanda. We were back again in January of 2005, Gary and Sharon Collier travelling with Jan Witham. There were more clothes to be distributed in several villages and also certificates to be presented to women who had successfully completed an adult education courses. These are great incentives for the women as it gives them a basic grasp of reading and writing which gives them a better chance of getting a job and providing much needed income for their families.
     
 
Trekkers heading out of Lobuche, April 2005
And visiting Nargakot school for clothes distribution
     
The previous year we had done a trial run up into the Everest region with a view to bringing charity treks to Nepal. The trek of April 2005 was our first proper venture up to Base Camp. We were joined on the trek by Patrick and Carole Moran (who would ultimately become trustees), Sharon Jennings, Neil Bates, Tony Andrew and Steve Walton. After the trek was completed the group headed for Nargokot and did a clothes distribution at the local school.
     
 
Gary and David Clothes distribution, September 2005
Gary and David Clothes distribution, September 2005
     
By September of 2005 we were back in Nepal and distributing clothes. This was David Underwoods first trip to Nepal and he and Gary spent several weeks there, distributing clothes to different villages as they went. By this time we had received a sizeable donation from a very kind lady named Phillipa Reid-Dalglish. This had enabled us for the first time to put the wheels in motion to building our fist school solely financed by the DCWC in UK. Plans were made and the build at Kalika Malika was on its way.
     
 
Everest base camp 2006 Trekkers
Opening the school at Kalika Malika
     
In January Gary was back in Nepal. Though not on charity business, he was there to set up a workshop with Akka. Named the Pink Lotus workshop, it was set up to give jobs and give them skills in making handicrafts. By April it was time for our second proper Everest Base Camp Trek. We were joined by James Wilson and Phil Hanson (soon to become trustees), Christopher Collier, Peter Barass, Phil Harding and Helen Birchenough. Most of the trekkers then went on to open our first DCWC in UK school at Kalika Malika. A full days travel each way, the trekkers stayed overnight opening the school and distributing clothes and stationary the next morning before returning back to Kathmandu.
Full information on Kalika Malika school - Click here
     
 
James giving a DCWC presentation to school children
John Birch handing over a cheque for £5000, November 2006
     

By the summer of 2006 DCWC Nepal was up to six trustees. We lost David Underwood for several years for personal reasons but inherited Patrick and Carole Moran from the 2005 trek and James Wilson and Phil Hanson from the 2006 trek. Phil had been inspired by the school build visit to Kalika Malika and set out to raise money through the winter to build a school himself. We were also massively fortunate to receive a cheque from a very kind gentleman called John Birch. John wanted to do a trek but couldn’t make it but still raised £5000 all the same. With this in the bank and Phils pledge, plans were hatched for school number 2 to happen early in the next year to be built at Tama Khani, near Rajabas in Kavre.

     
 
Charity auction Queens Hotel, Lytham, November 2006
DCWC Nepal Raffle, Joe Longthorne gig, December 2006
     

During our 2005 trek to Everest Base Camp we had the most unusual good fortune to bump into a couple from just round the corner from where we were in Lytham St Annes. On the trail we got talking to Paul and Bev Hargreaves who ran the Queens Hotel in Lytham and after returning home and grown a friendship. They had a desire to help the poor of Nepal and in November 2006 they offered up the pub so we could have a charity auction for goods donated to us. This was a most significant day. We raised over £1000 but there was a gentleman there who watched our presentation about Nepal and the school opening called Dave Jennings. He was about to change significantly what we were doing in Nepal. By this time also our connection with Joe Longthorne had started to Blossom. With Patrick and Carole on board the connection was there as Patricks son Jamie is Joe Longthornes manager. We started with raffles at his concerts but he was later to become a DCWC Nepal Patron.

     
 
Dave Jennings and Gary discussing school builds
Dave Jennings discussing the documentary with Jason
     
Dave spoke to Gary after the auction and stated his Company UAP would like to build a school in Nepal. For us this was a great result on the back of what we'd earned at the auction. Dave then contacted Gary the next day and said he'd changed his mind. He did in fact want to build a series of five schools, each a year apart. The process was started immediately. The school would be built in Bhimphedi, in the Makwanpur district of Nepal. Dave fancied the idea of the school opening being filmed and Jason Graham was drafted in to do a shoot. Jason had a contact for Sean Wilson, ex-Martin Platt off Coronation Street and approached him
     
 
The meeting with Sean about the 2007 Everest trek
Sean getting kitted out for the trek
     
about the possibility of being filmed trekking to Everest Base Camp on our 2007 trek and then being filmed opening UAPs first school in Bimphedi. Gary and Jason met up with Sean in a bar in Manchester and Sean was taken with the idea. We managed to get Sean kitted out at our local outdoor shop in Blackpool and then set about preparing logistics for the trek.
     
 
Opening ceremony at Tama Khani
 
Colin, Jayne and Phil at Chourikhola
     
Before the trek was ready to take place we had the small matter of opening DCWC Nepal second school. The opening was part of a group trip to Tibet. Colin Rodgers, Jayne Brown and Phil Hanson were joined by Gary and Jason. Tama Khani in those days was a tough place to get to as the road had still not been completed. The school was opened in the twilight hours and Jason was there to film it all. On the way back to the 4-wheel drive we went passed Chourikhola where there was a nice expanse of reasonably flat land. We had found our place to have a health camp and football tournament.
Full information on Tama Khani school - Click here
     
 
The 2007 Everest base camp trekkers
Jason filming Sean at Bimphedi school opening
     

When we returned from Tibet the trekkers had already arrived in Kathmandu with Sean on board. We then headed out to the Everest region to do the trek. We were joined by Gianclaudio Antonelli, Tim Royle, Tony Andrew, Chris Clarke and Ian Mcnally. Once the trek was completed we took the long grueling journey to Bhimphedi. We were joined by Patrick and Karin Graney from USA version of DCWC Nepal. DCWC Nepal school number 3 was opened by Sean Wilson.
Full information on Bhimphedi school - Click here

     
 
The whole entourage at the UAP Ball
The DCWC Nepal table
     
In June of 2007 Dave Jennings organised a UAP Ball in aid of DCWC Nepal at the Holiday Inn in Bolton. The Ball was a very glitzy affair and was attended predominantly by his clients from around the country. The Ball was a big success and DCWC Nepal benefitted greatly from it with around £12,000 being raised overall b y the event.
     
 
Recieving a cheque at Cleveleys Methodist Church
Sean at Lancashire Radio with Steve Lowe
     
By summer of 2007 we had expanded to nine trustees. Bev and Paul Hargreaves whom we had met in the Everest region in 2005, and Jason Graham the film maker came onboard. Interest in our school builds was rapidly expanding. Cleveleys Methodist Church were the next to commit to a project. This was followed by none other than the Accrington Stanley "Ultras". Gary and Sean Wilson had been invited onto Radio Lancashires Ted Robins show to talk about the trip to Nepal. Ted couldn't make it so Steve Lowe stood in. After we had done the show Steve was impressed and pledged to organise his buddies at Accrington Stanley into raising funds to build a school. The plan was hatched to do a sponsored walk to an away match.
     
 
Gary and Ben jennings opening Chourikhola School
The Chourikhola Health camp and football festival
     
By the end of August it was time to open another school. This was to be our school number 4 and the second of UAPs 5 schools. The school was located at Chourikhola in Kavre. We had passed this way in April after the Tama Khani school build and had noticed that the school site also had a large expanse of ground and so we made the decision to incorporate the school opening with a health camp and provide the local people with a festival encompassing a football tournament. The school was opened on August 30th 2007 by Gary and Ben Jennings son of UAP MD Dave Jennings.
Full information on Chourikhola school - Click here

 
 
Brian Kilcline being filmed by Jason at Chourikhola
The Chourikhola Football Tournament
     
The Chourikhola festival was a massive undertaking. One I doubt we will see the like of again. Two fully laden buses of people set out for this remote region getting stuck in the mud along the way. From the UK we were very honored to have along with us Brian Kilcline, Captain of Coventry Citys 1987 FA Cup winning team, and his wife Lynn. We took a UK team out to play in the tournament of 16as well as a team made up of Nepal members of DCWC who had their own team. The tournament was enjoyed by many though the final was abandoned due to a full scale brawl between the two teams
More information on Chourikhola festival- Click here
 
 
Doctors with medicines at Chourikhola Health Camp
Dr Ramu treating Health Camp patient
     
We had long since thought about doing a health camp but now it was coming to fruition. Chourikhola is at the border of Kavre and Ramechhap and so was an ideal location for the event. We used the newly built school to act as a medical centre for the four days. We had four volunteer doctors including the fantastic Dr Ramu. We were hopeful of treating 1000 people over the four days. The demand was so great we treated over 2000 people. The data we took from the event changed the course of the charity. It was obvious the region needed medical facilities and so the hospital project was born.
 
     
 
Accrington Stanley fans on the Long Walk to Rochdale
Steve handing over the cheque to Gary and Sean
     
A cold Saturday morning in Accrington saw us walking the miles to Rochdale. After Gary and Sean appeared on Steve Lowes radio program he was true to his word. Steve organised the Accrington Stanley fan club to walk from Accrington Stanleys football ground to Rochdales football ground. The walk was very well supported by the "Ultras" and by various members of the charity. The walk was a total success and managed to generate enough funds to get the school build under way in Nepal.
     
     
James with Akka and Guna opening Shree Darga
Shree Darga built by Cleveleys Park Methodist Church
     
By April 2008 DCWC Nepal school number 5 was completed, funded by Cleveleys Park Methodist Church in Blackpool. A group from the church went out to Nepal, organised by DCWC Nepal trustee James Wilson. The group was made up of Joan Taylor, Joan Moore, Rachel Worthington, Thomas Partington, Sophie Parker.
Full information on Shree Darga school - Click here
 
 
 
2008 EBC trek party on the ascent
 
The Everest, Nuptse, Ama Dablam Vista
     

A Month later and our fourth annual trek was under way. For the second year in a row we succeeded in getting all to Everest Base Camp and all but one up Kala Pataar.
**For more info on the 2008 EBC Trek Click Here**

     
     
 
Children of Shree Sun Koshi School
 
Luke and Jamie distribute clothing
     
After returning back to Kathmandu from the trek the group were then taken out to Madan Kudari in Kavre to open school number six. The funds for Shree Sun Koshi Primary School had been very kindly donated by HSBC Bank. The group helped out with the distribution of clothes and school stationary.
**For more information about Shree Sun Koshi School click here**
     
     
 
Chris Pankhurst and School Headmaster
 
School Headmaster and Akka
     
Natarastriya Yuba Barsa Ni Ma Bi School was our seventh school build and UAPs third school. The school was opened by UAP employee Chris Pankhurst and his daughter Emma Wise on 26th August 2008. The school was dedicated to the memory of the late father of Lynne Jennings, wife of UAP MD Dave Jennings.
**For more information about Antarastriya Yuba Barsa Ni Ma Bi school click here**
     
     
 
Antonio Forcione on guitar
Radio Lancashires Steve Royle
 
September of 2008 saw our second annual Charity Ball take place at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool. Top of the Bill was acoustic guitarist Antonio Forcione and the event was compared by Radio Lancashire DJ Steve Royle
**For more information on the 2008 Charity Ball Click Here**
 
 
Simon Booth with Akka at opening Ceremony
 
Simon opening the school
     
Seti Devi Primary School in Sanubangthal was our eighth DCWC Nepal school build but was built as the result of a quite tragic event. By early 2007 we had begun working with Tim Kane from Worcester who had a keen interest to help DCWC Nepal. Tim was a keen athlete and cyclist and signed up for the 2008 Charity trek but also wanted to visit Nepal in autumn 2007 to help the charity and see our projects. Tragically whilst we were in Tibet in April 2007 we were informed of the death of Tim, killed tragically in a hit and run accident, whilst out training for a triathlon on his bike. He left behind a wife Alison and two young children Olivia and Anton. The extended network of family and friends contributed towards the costs involved and the project got under way to build the Tim Kane memorial school. The school was opened by Tims cousin Simon Booth in October of 2008.
**For more information about Seti Devi Primary School click here**
     
     
 
Sean and Jason open the school
Sean Gary Jason and Akka at Seti Bokse
     
Seti Bokse Primary School in Kattike Deurali was our ninth DCWC Nepal school build and was the brainchild of BBC Radio Lancashire presenter Steve Lowe. Steve is a big Accrington Stanley fan and he got together a group of supporters to raise funds for a school by doing a sponsored walk. It started with a radio interview in the summer of 2007 when Gary and Sean were supposed to be on the Ted Robins show but Ted couldn't make it in so Steve stepped in. After listening to our exploits on the 2007 trek and the opening of Bimphedi school Steve was hooked on the idea of his Accrington Stanley buddies raising funds to do the same thing. The idea was hatched to do a sponsored walk doing 16 miles from Accrington Stanleys Crown ground to Rochdales Spotland for the away fixture in March 2008. In April of 2009 Gary, Jason and Sean Wilson went to Nepal to open the school. Set in a beautiful area of Kavre close to the Sun Koshi river the school was opened on April 20th 2009.
**For more information about Seti Bokse Primary School click here**
 
     
Manju with Sean when we first arrived at Rajbash
Manju with Gary when we were ready to leave
 
     
We had originally meant to climb Island Peak in the April but for several different reasons it didn't happen. Instead Gary, Sean and Jason went to Nepal to open two schools and to check on the hospital build. It was whilst they were in the hospital village of Rajbash that the presence of a young girl called Manju would have quite an impact on Garys future . .... More to follow
     
The school at Pasheban
Sean with many flowers
     
Shree Seti Devi School, Pasheban was our tenth school build and UAPs fourth school, though Dave Jennings of UAP had very generously given it over to Sean for him to dedicate it to his children Callum and Maisie. The opening of Pasheban had capped a hard four days which had seen Shree Bokse opened, then a day at the hospital village. That was followed by the opening of USA school at Shree Kharpani and now this school at Pasheban. We were escorted the whole way from Shree Kharpani by an entourage of musicians. It had proved to be a very difficult journey but we were glad we were here and the job could be finished. Shree Seti Devi was opened on April 23rd (despite what it says on the plaque) by Sean Wilson. We received a very floral welcome by the local people which made for a very colourful setting.
**For more information about Shree Seti Devi School, Pasheban click here**
 
     
Pete and Luke Jones
Distributing stationary at Shree Pratibha
 
     
Shree Pratibha Primary School, Makwanpur was our eleventh school build and was very kindly donated by the school children of Congleton High School. Co-ordinated by Caroline Eckersley, the pupils did a variety of activities to raise the necessary funds to build the school. The school was opened on 7th May and capped a busy month of four school openings. Shree Pratibha was opened by father and son, Peter and Luke Jones. Both are based in Lytham St Annes, the home of the charity and had been out to Nepal to climb Island Peak. It wasn't their first trip, having been to Nepal the year before to do Everest Base camp, and were part of the group to open Shree Sunkoshi school. 
**For more information about Shree Pratibha Primary School click here**
     
Binay Lama and Joe Longthorne
Joe with charity trustees
 
     
By the early summer of 2009 our connection with Joe Longthorne was starting to flourish. Joe had been pro-active in raising funds for DCWC Nepal and so it was from here that Joe agreed to become a patron of DCWC Nepal.
**For more information on Joe and our other trustees click here**
     
Prayer flags made by the pupils
Gary Paul and Bev receiving cheque
 
     
On 10th June 2009 Gary, Paul and Bev from DCWC Nepal headed down to the south coast to visit the Arnewood School near Bournemouth. The school had arranged to have a Nepal day at the school as part of a drive to raise funds for their school build project in Nepal.
**For more information about the Arnewood "Nepal" Day Click here**
     
Garys speech
Sean and Binay present Dave Jennings
     
In September of 2009 we had our third annual Charity Ball at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool. The Tony Williams band , Johnny Casson and Tony Jo were on the Bill for another successful evening raising funds for DCWC Nepal
**For more information on the 2009 Charity Ball Click Here**
 
     
The 3 peaks victims 2010
On top of Scafell at daybreak
     
On 10th June 2010 we took our first 3 Peaks challenge. The challenge is the gruelling walk up the three peaks of Ben Nevis, Scafell and Snowdon all within 24 hours. We set out at 9.00 am up to Scotland and got the walk under way at 5.00pm at Ben Nevis. Not all completed the challenge but good fun was had and we learned a lot for the next one.
**For more information about the first 3 Peaks Challenge click here**
 
     
The 4th DCWC Nepal annual charity Ball
The trustees
     
Our 4th Annual Ball was held a little earlier in the year at anew venue. In early June we held the Ball at the Devere hotel in Blackpool. The venue was the ideal location to host an afternoon golf tournament as a prelude for the main event. The event was hosted by the brilliant Russ Williams, host of our 2007 event, and The Kommitments tribute band headed the Bill.
**For more information on the 2010 Charity Ball Click Here**
 
     
The opening ceremony
Mike Gough and Plaque
     
Baikaplik Primary school was opened in August 2010 and was the project of teacher Mike Gough and the students of Arnewood School and Carisbrooke High School. In June 2009 trustees of DCWC Nepal had visited Arnewood school to attend a Nepal day organised by the school. The event was to raise awareness of Nepal and to start to raise funds to build a school in Nepal. By the end of 2009 funds had been raised and the school build was under way. The school opened in the summer of 2010 and many of the students went to Nepal to open the school and to do some trekking.
**For more information about Baikaplik Primary school click here**
 
     
Trekkers break before Nache Bazaar
Above Dingboche near Island Peak
     
The Spring of 2011 saw us back in the Himalayas for another Everest Base camp trek
**For more information about the 2011 trek click here**
 
     
The crazy people for 2011
Time for a quick snooze
     
On 11th June 2011 we took our second 3 Peaks challenge. The challenge is the gruelling walk up the three peaks of Ben Nevis, Scafell and Snowdon all within 24 hours. We seriously upped our game on last year with everyone completing the challenge with the fastest time being an astounding 18 hours, 18 minutes.
**For more information about the second 3 Peaks Challenge click here**
 
     
The opening ceremony
Staionary for the new school
     
Shree Brahma Bishnu Mahadev Primary School, Dorkhani was our thirteenth school build and was the fifth of five schools pledged by Dave Jennings and UAP. Representing UAP for the opening ceremony was Angela, Samantha and Christopher Neville. 
**For more information about Shree Brahma Bishnu Mahadev Primary School click here**