Three years ago [November 2014] I made a very special pilgrimage to the Annapurna Sanctuary in the Nepalese Himalayas. [see photo]. With me I carried a small stone from Clun.

My inspiration for this trek was one of my daughter Caitlin’s good friends, Japhy Wilson.

Not long after Caitlin’s death in 1998 [aged 19], Japhy carried a stone in his pocket from Clun to the Annapurna Sanctuary in her memory. He also brought a stone back from the sanctuary to place on Caitlin’s grave, and took a photo showing where he placed the stone. In the background is Machapuchare, considered the most sacred and beautiful of all the Nepali Himalayas. Attempts at ‘conquering’ this majestic mountain are strictly forbidden.

On his return, Japhy wrote me a note that I treasure: … ‘It [the Annapurna Sanctuary] is an incredibly beautiful place, very still and silent. Every rock, scrubby plant and bird seems in awe of those vast mountains. Seeing them was like seeing God. I think it is a good place for Caitlin’s stone to be….’ Over a decade later, I was able to make this journey, with a stone in my pocket.

2017 marks 19 years since Caitlin’s death, and it is appropriate to plan another trek to Nepal, this time accompanied by Caitlin’s brother Sean, and to a different destination.

I am personally funding all the costs of the trek, with a twofold goal:

1] As co-founder of Caitlin’s Kickstart Award it is my turn to step up to the plate and replenish the Award’s depleted funds. Nevertheless in 2017 we are gifting 7 talented local students to continue their studies in further and higher education. I am profoundly indebted to local individuals, groups and community services for your continuing support.

2] During my 20I4 trek I met some remarkable people, one of whom is Pemba Sherpa, who was my guide and has become a dear friend. Pemba has a young child; his birth family live in the Everest region in a village called Ghorekhani, which was damaged badly by the earthquakes in April 2015 and the months following. Pemba’s village has two schools. The education of children in Nepal is not free. Poverty is rife.

It’s a tough time of year to receive yet another call on your extraordinary generosity, but it is also the right time. I will be dividing donations evenly between Caitlin’s Kickstart Award and the Nepal fund, which will be administered via Classrooms in the Clouds www.classroomsintheclouds.org

Sponsor us on our trek!