The Wokingham Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By GEMMA DAVIDSON

A DAD from Twyford is mak­ing the fi­nal prepa­ra­tions for a trip to Nepal to help re­build a com­mu­nity dev­as­tated by an earth­quake in 2015.

Andy Bar­den, 53, of Lon­don Road, will set off on the trip this Satur­day (Novem­ber 4) for a two-week ex­pe­di­tion which will see him help re­build a ru­ral school, fol­lowed by a trek through the An­na­purna foothills.

Mr Bar­den, who works for a wealth man­age­ment com­pany, said de­spite never do­ing any­thing like this be­fore, he was look­ing for­ward to the trip.

He said: “It all came about be­cause one of the com­pany’s di­rec­tors climbed Ever­est in 2014. He had an amaz­ing time, but when the earth­quake hit the fol­low­ing year, a lot of the peo­ple who he had met along the way were af­fected. He wanted to do some­thing to help so ev­ery year a group from the busi­ness travel over to Nepal to help re­build a part of the com­mu­nity.

“I will be part of the fourth group to go out, and there will be around 12 or 13 of us go­ing from all over the UK.”

Each mem­ber of the group has raised £6,000 to cover the cost of build­ing one class­room at Shree Chuni Devi Shik­sha Mandir Lower Sec­ondary School in Chu­nikhel. Andy will be cov­er­ing his own flights and ex­penses dur­ing the trip.

Andy ex­plained: “These build­ings need to be seis­mi­cally sta­ble to, hope­fully, pre­vent any fur­ther tragedies like this in the fu­ture.

“As well as build­ing the phys­i­cal struc­ture, we will be tak­ing books and sup­plies with us, as much as we can carry re­ally, to help kit out the class­rooms, and we will be fundrais­ing later to fund com­put­ers and tech­nol­ogy so the school has every­thing it needs.

“So many com­mu­ni­ties have been try­ing to re­build their schools over the last two harsh winters and their chil­dren have of­ten had to main­tain their stud­ies in cat­tle sheds and un­der plas­tic sheet­ing stretched over bam­boo frames. We des­per­ately want to give Chu­nikhel back their school. We will live, eat and camp in the school grounds and ev­ery day we will help the lo­cal builders who will be adding their ex­per­tise to the pro­ject. I will be dig­ging, shift­ing rock, mix­ing ce­ment, what­ever it takes and I’m ex­pect­ing some pretty im­pres­sive blis­ters!”

When the week of build­ing is com­plete, the group will em­bark on a week-long trek, which will in­clude scal­ing Poon Hill, giv­ing the group a stun­ning view of Ever­est, be­fore they fin­ish their ad­ven­ture in the streets of Kath­mandu.

Andy said: “I’ve never done any­thing like this be­fore, but the group have had sev­eral week­end treks in the Lake District and across the South Downs to give us a taste of what we will be up against.

“My daugh­ter did a sim­i­lar trek with The Holt School dur­ing the sum­mer. We are both quite ad­ven­tur­ous, she ab­so­lutely loved her ex­pe­di­tion, and it’s meant that we can share some of our kit too!

“My fundrais­ing has gone re­ally well, a lot of my clients have got on board and spon­sored me so I am not far off my £6,000, but of course any ad­di­tional money raised will go back to the school.”

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