Work has started on a second school in Nepal thanks to a project established following the death of Lt Neal Turkington in Afghanistan in July 2010.
The Neal Turkington Nepal Project was set up as a legacy to the 26-year-old Portadown man, a member of 1 Royal Gurkha Rifles, who was killed by a rogue Afghan soldier while on duty in Helmand province.
Since then thousands of pounds have been raised in his memory, the latest event being a ball and charity auction organised by Bocombra PS - where Neal was a former pupil - as part of the school’s 40th anniversary celebrations.
The event, attended by more than 100 parents, past pupils, staff, governors and members of the Turkington family, raised £1,000.
Principal Mark Vallelly said it had been a fantastic night with lots of items donated for the auction, including everything from sporting memorabilia and a wheelbarrow to a bag of gravel and vouchers for Segway.
He said, “It’s amazing how generous people were, and Michael Hannath kindly officiated at the auction.”
Neal’s father Ivor Turkington said work on the school, in the east of Nepal, will consist of a 10-classroom extension and improvement of the existing building.
He said, “We hope to have finished by the beginning of June, before the monsoon season. It will provide much better structural accommodation and facilities.
“Twenty-four of the children are profoundly deaf and live in a hostel in the grounds. There will also be a vegetable patch, a badminton court and the kitchen and heating will be improved.”
The £65,000 scheme is being funded by Neal’s project which has raised £136,000, including gift aid, since its inception.
Said Mr Turkington, “The whole community has given beyond our expectations. The fact that they remember Neal makes it easier for us to cope and know that his sacrifice was not in vain.”
He thanked Neal’s former schools for their support, in particular Bocombra PS, where the project has enabled a web link to be set up between its pupils and those in Nepal.
Meanwhile, a further £1,000 has been donated to the project in lieu of flowers in memory of Harrison Morrow (91) of Princess Way, who passed away recently in Lisnisky Nursing Home.
Mr Morrow was a member of Portadown Male Voice Choir for over 60 years, having worked in the DoE, the prison service and the building trade.
The family has been supportive of the Neal Turkington Nepal Project and Harrison’s widow Amy is delighted with the donations.