The Essex SWT group, made up of 20 consultants, doctors, nurses and support staff have completed their fund-raising for a much needed new ambulance for Sylvia’s hospital. The group have been fundraising since their first visit in 2009.
The photo shows Dr Sathanandan (Leader of the Essex Group) next to Sylvia at the official handover in the summer of 2012. Congratulations and thanks to them all for this wonderful effort!
Lidgett Park Methodist Church In Roundhay, Leeds have just completed their annual charity appeal which, in 2012, was to raise money for a new school bus for Sylvia’s school. The old bus is on its last legs/wheels and is 32 years old. On Sunday 10 September, Barbara Dodman presented a magnificent cheque for £13,507 to Sylvia at the church service. This is an outstanding result from just one church and the money will now provide the long awaited 55 seater bus to get day pupils to and from the school each day.
Special 30th Anniversary Newsletter
Click here to download a copy
Read Jonathan Tulloch's interview with Sylvia in The Tablet 12 May 2012. By kind permission of The Editor: http://www.thetablet.co.uk
Supporters celebrate with Sylvia
“Without you I can do nothing”
Over 400 supporters from many parts of the country gathered in St. Anne’s Cathedral Leeds on Sunday 22 April to celebrate and give thanks for Sylvia Wright’s 30 years of dedicated service to poor, sick and disabled people in Tamil Nadu, Southern India.
The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Rev Alan Taylor, was welcomed by Mgr Philip Moger, Dean of the Cathedral, and he was joined by other distinguished guests, civic and church leaders as well as Sylvia herself who was on a short visit back to Leeds.
The Service of Celebration & Thanksgiving was the climax of several events, organised by the Sylvia Wright Trust, to mark Sylvia’s achievements since she sold all her possessions, left her home and Holy Name Parish to travel alone to a remote and very poor part of India in 1982.
Mgr Moger led the gathering prayer for the large congregation:
“We have come from many places for a little while. We have come on journeys of our own to a place where journeys meet. So here in this sacred place, let us take time together to give thanks to God for all that has been achieved by Sylvia and her supporters over the last 30 years. For when paths cross and friends gather there is much to celebrate.”
The Rt Rev David Konstant, Emeritus Bishop of Leeds reflected on his visits to Tiruvannamalai where Sylvia still works at the age of 74. He had noticed five important qualities which characterised Sylvia and her staff: generosity (“time and smiles”); cheerfulness (“the Lord is a cheerful giver”); energy (“a genuine enthusiasm for what we are doing”); compassion (“a trouble shared is a trouble halved”); foolishness (“being a fool for Christ’s sake”). His tribute brought warm applause from the congregation.
Prayers were introduced by Rev Dr Elizabeth Smith, Chair of Leeds Methodist District, who complimented the congregation on its excellent singing of “Love Divine All Loves Excelling” by Charles Wesley. Coloured candles brought up by pupils at supporting schools accompanied the prayers: for the hospital, the school for deaf children, the day centres for severely disabled children, the Nursing College, India and all Sylvia’s supporters. A special rainbow candle was lit during the prayer for Sylvia.
Sylvia Wright’s words “Without you I can do nothing” set the theme of the service. She insisted that she was “just a very ordinary person” and was sorry to disappoint those expecting something special. The Word of the Lord had “filled my mind”. There was something deep inside everybody.
She went on: “If God had interviewed me I would not have got the job!”
Rev Kevin Watson, The Moderator URC Yorkshire Province, who led the Our Father, said: “Sylvia, we are not disappointed by you – we are inspired!”
The Cathedral Choir directed by Benjamin Saunders sang music of the highest quality; this included pieces by Duruflé, Handel and Palestrina as well as the beautiful version of The Beatitudes by Arvo Pärt. Benjamin had heard Sylvia’s choice of music in her ‘One on One’ interview with Liz Green on BBC Radio Leeds on 19 April and, imaginatively, played powerful extracts from Verdi’s Aida and Dvo?ák’s New World Symphony on the organ before and after the service.
Tony Allinson, Chairman of the Sylvia Wright Trust, thanked everybody involved in the service and said it was good to see so many churches participating. “We try to be as ecumenical here as Sylvia is in India”.
A representative of the Leeds Hindu Temple thanked Sylvia for her devoted care for the people of Tamil Nadu and invited everybody to offer each other an Indian sign of peace.
The Blessing was given by Rev Canon Tony Bundock, Rector of Leeds, before the rousing final hymn “Now Thank We All Our God”.
Tea, cakes and samosas in the Wheeler Hall enabled a large number to enjoy an excellent social gathering afterwards.
Eileen Price, a member of the Essex Group who had travelled up for the service, said: “The whole day surpassed all our expectations and endorsed our view that Sylvia is an exceptional person.”
Tony Allinson thanks everybody in Cathedral
Candle bearers from our schools
Sylvia with Lord Mayor in Leeds Cathedral
Bishop Konstant reflects on his visits to Sylvia in India
Rev Dr Elizabeth Smith Chair of Leeds Methodist District and Rev Kevin Watson, The Moderator-URC Yorkshire Province
Bishop David Konstant and Sylvia after the service
Cathedral Choir before procession
Gap students now working in Sylvia's School. See below.
Over the years, Sylvia has welcomed many gap year students and they have found the experience both enjoyable and inspiring; several have become lifetime supporters. Samantha Gittings and Peter McGoverin are currently spending 3 months doing valuable work in the school. Peter, who is himself deaf, has particularly enjoyed cricket, helping in lessons and learning some Tamil.
Samantha writes: "I am having an amazing time – the children, teachers and staff are so lovely and welcoming it would be hard not to!"
There are opportunities for more students from the UK, aged 18+, to do voluntary work at Sylvia's school in the future. Two students can be accommodated for about 3 months in January and September. For more information please contact Tony Allinson.
Peter, a gap student, working with some deaf children'
Sylvia has had many other visitors this year, including Trustees, students, medical students and a party of medics from Essex. All have come back hugely impressed and committed supporters.
The hospital is running well and continues to offer a high quality service in a caring environment. The Dialysis Unit has now expanded to 19 machines working 24/7. This is a life-saving unit as there is no other provision in the district.
The school continues to provide a first class education and pastoral care, for over 200 deaf children who have again achieved excellent exam results at all levels. A qualified teacher of English has been appointed and also a new IT teacher and a number of laptops, both new and second hand have been donated. Lisa Binns and others have begun sending good quality hearing aids for the children which is a marvellous improvement.
A Pandiyan, a Year 10 student in the school, has achieved top marks in Tamil Nadu (population 72 million) for hearing impaired students with a remarkable 100% in his Maths exams.
The two day centres are continuing to care for 80 children with a wide range of severe disabilities and the early intervention centre for the hearing impaired continues in a local school.
The new Nursing College
The Nursing College now has a full complement of 80 student nurses. The course is tough, not least because it is in English but all have passed their interim exams to date and the students in the 4th year have stayed the course with great determination and dedication with the teaching and support of excellent staff. Their final results should be announced later in 2012.
Sue Wilson walks 500 miles to Santiago de Compostela to raise funds for Sylvia.
Here is Sue's own account:
" I first decided to attempt the walk of St James whilst on pilgrimage in Lourdes in 2008. I visited a place called Gavarnie, high up in the Alps above Lourdes. The scenery was amazing and in the midst of snow topped mountains and forests was a huge statue of "Our Lady of the Snows". The statue is there to protect pilgrims on their journey to Santiago de Compostela. The tiny church in Gavarnie has a beautiful prayer to our lady and it's where many pilgrims start their journey. I started to read about "the Camino" and researched into what it entailed. I had 2 years previously been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that had slowly but surely started to made a big impact on my general health and fitness, the main effects being arthritic pain and chronic fatigue. I didn't at any time mention my intentions to any of the doctors caring for me as I was nervous of any negativity and was determined that with my determination and the power of prayer I could do it.
This year I turned 60 and thought "Now's the time!" Everything slotted into place. I have a great friend, Ricky from Beverley, who loves walking and when I told her about my intentions she wanted to do the walk with me; we encouraged each other in different ways.
After speaking to my parish priest, I was encouraged to raise money by asking people to sponsor me. There are so many good causes out there but I just couldn't decide. My decision to support The Sylvia Wright Trust came from an impromptu decision to attend a retreat day at Woodhall to spend time in contemplation and share vespers with the Carmelite sisters. It was there that I was introduced to the work of Sylvia and my decision was made.
My faith, not my fitness, got me to Santiago in 31 days instead of the planned 35. I could feel the prayers coming from home and at times my feet just wouldn't stop. It was an amazing experience. The walking every day was never a problem but I was disappointed at the lack of spirituality at times; many people were simply there for the walk, its challenge and time out.
Wherever possible I stayed with similar minded people in convents and monasteries, sharing a meal and prayers. One of the best nights' sleeps I had was on a one inch mattress on the floor in an old Franciscan monastery.
My arrival at the Cathedral in Santiago after 500 miles and 31 days and the Pilgrims' Mass was an experience I shall always treasure and be grateful for. It's not possible to put into words how special it was."
Footnote: Sue has raised £265 so far for Sylvia. If you would like to add to that amount in recognition of her wonderful and courageous achievement please do so via our Donations page).
The Sylvia Wright Story DVD as proved so successful we will shortly commission the third reprint with subtitles. Please let us know if you would like a copy. The original DVD is now also available online at: vimeo.com/thesylviawrighttrust
This website is now being updated by Steve Bates of Ptarmigan Design, for which many thanks.
Our small brochure has been updated and reprinted. Copies are available on request.
UK Schools & Colleges.
Andrew Lowe is maintaining links with our established schools and has recruited some new ones. See UK Schools & Colleges page for much more information. The school in India has started to produce a magazine which we are circulating to UK schools and we have set up occasional video links and Skype sessions with Rangammal School.
Talks co-ordinator Anne-Marie Rose, has organised more talks than ever to various community groups. See Talks and Speakers page. More venues are always welcome.
Sponsors Angela Clark continues to work tirelessly to manage the sponsorship programme. Virtually all the children in the school now have sponsors as well as 5 of the severely disabled children in the day centres. In addition, Sylvia has identified a few of the student nurses who are being awarded bursaries to help them with their tuition fees thanks to the generous donations of UK supporters.
Indian Support Overall, both the number of active supporters and regular giving have again increased, which is wonderful in the present difficult economic climate. We have also seen a steady increase in support from the Indian Community in the UK including the Hindu Temple in Leeds (now one of our Patrons) and those in the Essex Group (see next item).
Essex Group The Essex SWT group, made up of 20 consultants, doctors, nurses and support staff, visited the hospital in September 2011 to run their second medical camp. Paying their own expenses, they offered free consultations and surgery as well as advice and training to Sylvia's own doctors and nurses. They screened 1300 new patients. Bhik Kotecha, ENT consultant, actually cleaned the ears of every single child; that's 420 ears! The group hope to present a new ambulance for which they have been fundraising since their first visit in 2009.
Some of the Essex Team in theatre
In the year to May 2012, we managed (just) to raise enough money to send our monthly grant though our reserves were further reduced by the final capital payment on the Nursing College and the need for a new electricity generator for the school.
We now send about £200,000 per annum to support Sylvia’s projects.
The generosity and loyalty of our supporters is amazing. Just 600 core supporters and their friends and families have helped Sylvia to achieve so much in India - without fail - for the last 30 years!
The Sylvia Wright Action Group (SWAG) meets in Leeds 3 times a year. The next meeting is scheduled for January 2013 in Holy Name Parish Centre, 52 Otley Old Road, LS16 6HW. New members are made very welcome. Please contact Tony Hartigan (01943 851431) if you would like to come along. See SWAG page for more details.
Sylvia continues her tireless work and sends her grateful thanks for your support. As she often says, "Without you I can do nothing."
The Trust wishes to thank all supporters for their continuing and loyal commitment.
* Chairman's Letters to Supporters *
Christmas 2012 click here
Summer 2012 click here
Christmas 2011 click here
Summer 2010 click here
Christmas 2010 click here
Summer 2011 click here
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