supporting rural development projects in northern KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
Helwel Hike - September 2019
Helwel supporters gathered on Ranmore Common in the beautiful Surrey Hills near Dorking for the 2019 Hike. This was the 30th year of Helwel hikes and there may even have been earlier ones that we've forgotten about!
Many thanks go to Amanda Arthurton for choosing this very scenic route, for arranging our pub lunch, and for welcoming some last-minute arrivals.
The proceeds of donations or sponsorship raised from the hike will be going to one of our core programmes, the training of pre-school teachers which is delivered by TREE (Training and Resources in Early Education).
We are currently funding practitioner training in the Nkandla area.
Another Helwel group visit to KwaZulu! - February 2019
This was the fourth time that a group of Helwel
Trust supporters had visited the partner charities and projects
that we support in the rural areas of Nqutu and Nkandla in KwaZulu.
There were thirteen of us. Some had been several times before but
for three of us it was the first time to do such a trip. Despite
all the regular reports that we receive, nothing can compare with
first hand experience. The fact-finding, the warmth of welcome,
including singing and dancing, and the knowledge that our friendship
and support means so much to the recipients was thrilling.
We started with a visit to TREE headquarters
in Durban followed by one to ACAT headquarters in Lidgetton. It
was both essential and fascinating to be updated on the national
polices of these two non-profit organisations, through whom our
money is channelled, and to meet the senior management teams, both
of whom gave us excellent presentations.
The Helwel group at TREE headquarters in Durban
The Jungle Gym at uKhanye creche
Helwel visitors enjoying playing with the children
Then three nights at the excellent Lennox Farm
near Dundee gave us a much-loved base for visits to Ukhanye Community
Care Centre (near Nqutu), Pre-schools with teachers trained by TREE
(near Nkandla) and community gardens and other small business ventures
overseen by ACAT (Nqutu area.)
Handcrafts at the eGubaze ACAT group
There was time for some relaxation and historical
site visits too, including Anglo Boer war battle sites at Spion
Kop, Ladysmith and Talana, plus Anglo Zulu war battle sites at Rorke's
Drift and Isandlwana, where we had the bonus of seeing the WowZulu
coffee shop and museum shop which Helwel has supported.
Enormous thanks go to Gavin and Betty Wiseman
from Eshowe, long-time friends of Helwel, who accompanied us for
three days and regaled us with battle stories from the past.
The garden of the Siyenza ACAT group
At the KwaNzimela Diocesan Centre
A night at KwaNzimela Diocesan Conference Centre
is a regular feature of our visits. We were delighted to find it
very well used and with improved facilities. Unfortunately, our
old friends Rev Cyprian Mncwango and his wife Boni were unable to
join us because of a family funeral but we had the pleasure of meeting
Cyprian's son Vezi and some of the sisters from the convent.
We all enjoyed the beautiful drive down to Eshowe where the wonderful
Wisemans were our hosts. We were warmly welcomed at the Cathedral
service on Sunday morning but all too soon the group part of the
trip was over. Four stayed on in KwaZulu to enjoy the game reserves
and nine flew on to the Port Elizabeth for holiday adventures in
the Eastern and Western Cape provinces.
Helwel Hike - Wye Valley
Helwel supporters did a most enjoyable hike in
the Wye Valley to raise money for fencing to protect crops in the
rural areas of KwaZulu Natal.
Maisemore gig 2017
A very good evening was had by all at Maisemore, Gloucestershire on
30th September. Za Ellis had some Zulu friends to join us and with
their help we had a go at singing "Shosholoza" - here's
Bill Foster leading the Band for their rendition of some classic dance
tunes and songs.
Mike Ellis did a brilliant job as auctioneer of an original painting
of Madiba which he and Za very kindly donated to raise money for
We're not sure whether expenditure of calories on the dance floor
exceeded the intake from all the good food, but it would have been
a close call! Many thanks to Mike and Za for arranging the Dinner
and dance event. We will update you all when the funds have been
Helwel Hike - September 2017
More than thirty Helwel supporters and six dogs had a most enjoyable hike on Dartmoor at the beginning of September,
blessed by fine weather and nourished by a good lunch in the New Inn at Widdecombe. It was wonderful to have children and also new supporters from nearby parts of Devon.
We will have raised about £2,000 in sponsorship to purchase toys and educational equipment for the creche at the Ukhanye Community Care Centre near Nqutu and Isandlwana in rural KwaZulu Natal.
Fundraising news 2017
On 23rd April Lisa Mills ran her first marathon in London for Helwel
Trust. It was a perfect cool but bright day for runners and spectators
alike, and Lisa enjoyed every minute of the 26.2 mile route around
London's great landmarks, starting and finishing with a smile! So
far Lisa's marathon has raised just over £2,000 and there
is still time to donate at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/lisamillsmarathon
On 16th April John Sharp (7), inspired by his
trip to TREE pre-schools in South Africa last October, undertook
a heroic 44mile sponsored cycle ride at The Devon Dirt Bicycle Event.
John is raising funds to train another pre-school teacher (£1000
raised to date!) and you can show your support at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/nikki-sharp
Visit to UKhanye (UCCC) by Carolyn and Howard Mowbray - March 2017
Our friends at UKhanye Community
Care Centre were delighted to welcome us, only five months after
the group visit in 2016. We were on holiday in South Africa which
is rather like a second home country for us as we lived there between
1969 and 1975, at the Charles Johnson Memorial Hospital at Nqutu
and in Nongoma.
An additional building donated by Corobricks is well used for the
new creche and the feeding of the 80 or so orphans and vulnerable
children. Both buildings are well used for activities for the elderly,
a farmers' association, a well baby clinic with immunisations and
by the church. And there are plans for a youth club. Helwel has
recently paid for new VIP toilets, computer for the office, deep
freeze, safe, water tank, fencing and other garden equipment. We
do not pay any salaries. Everyone there and here are volunteers.
Helwel also supports the two year training of Nompilo Magubane,
the teacher in the crèche, so it was particularly good to see her
with 30 pre-school children having their lunch, supplied with funding
from KFC and some vegetables from the Mothers Union garden. We were
concerned by the lack of toys in the creche so this will be the
focus of fundraising for our next sponsored hike in September.
Let us pass on a quote from our visit:
"Other donors come and go but Helwel Trust is unique in the length of its commitment and friendship"
Cyprian and Boni Mncwango with Carolyn
at the uMgungundlovu Monument in
the Valley of the Ancient Zulu Kings
The crèche at Ukhanye, near
St Augustine's, Nqutu area
The senior staff of Ukhanye with Howard and
Carolyn outside the Barker Memorial building
Howard with Gavin and Betty Wiseman and
daughter Ruth, long-term friends, supporters
and hosts of Helwel at their house in Eshowe
An exciting families and friends group visit to KwaZulu - October 2016
Thirteen Helwel Trust supporters, including four
children, had a wonderful and informative two week visit to Zululand
in October to visit the projects we support through our partner
charities. The photos are representative of what they saw. Africa
Ignite is a new partnership for us. It includes "Wow Zulu", an enterprise
selling handcrafts to tourists at Isandlwana and also Dundee Action
Desk where young people run an embryonic citizens' advice bureau.
The Creches which were visited were all in the deprived Nkandla
area. Helwel has paid for the training of the pre-school teachers
through TREE (Training and Resources in Early Education). In the
Nqutu area it was a particular thrill to see the new Toy Library,
joint funded by us with Breadline Africa. This is already well used
and looks very attractive. Thembi Ndondo, well known to us from
previous group visits, is the Field Officer for ACAT (Africa Co-operative
Action Trust) in the Nqutu area. He took the group to see vegetable
gardens and small business enterprises which have been launched
from the "platform" of groups of 5 people trained by ACAT in these
poor rural communities - "G5s".
Drought is currently a major problem. It is always a highlight to
visit our UKhanye friends at the settlement of Ngonini near Nqutu
where we support community care, particularly of the AIDS orphans.
The Barker building, funded initially by Helwel from the Anthony
and Maggie Barker legacy, continues to be improved by our funding.
The local firm Corobricks has recently erected an additional building
for the feeding scheme.
A stay at the Diocesan Conference Centre at KwaNzimela enabled the
visitors to meet up with Rev Cyprian Mncwango and his wife Boni
who had been our guests in the UK last year. The nuns of the Convent
of the Holy Name were also delighted to be visited. The Sharp family
went on to see again the pre-school at Ntambanana, named and funded
in memory of their dear Chloe. Of course, there were plenty of holiday
opportunities along the way and the children were never bored. Game
reserves, Shaka-Land and the Indian ocean were visited. The Wiseman
family in Eshowe were generous hosts as usual and hosted a meeting
with Bishop Monument.
The visit of Cyprian and Boni Mncwango to the UK, June - July 2015
Retired Head Teacher and non-stipendiary priest Cyprian Mncwango and his wife Bonisile visited the UK for 3 weeks this summer. Their visit was a great success in every way,
reviving old friendships and links and forging new ones. Cyprian was on the Board of Helwel in Zululand in past years and has recently been to see both old and new Helwel-related projects.
Addressing supporters who came on the annual Helwel Hike, he gave an inspiring and upbeat assessment of what we have achieved over 40 years.
Their visit started with a week with Howard and Carolyn Mowbray near Fareham, followed by stays of several days with Andrew and Tessa Pemberton near Stroud, Liz and Owen Williams near Monmouth,
and David and Katherine May near Shrewsbury. Then there was a visit to the Diocese of Carlisle which is linked with the Diocese of Zululand, staying in the Bishop's house in Keswick.
Cyprian is chaplain to the nuns of the Convent of the Holy Name at KwaMagwaza in Zululand so they were welcomed next at the Mother House in Derby.
Finally, on to London to stay with Catherine Budgett-Meakin for some sight-seeing and the Helwel Hike on Hampstead Heath.
Helwel Hike 2015
The Helwel Hike on July 11th on Hampstead Heath
was a very special event as Cyprian and Bonisile Mncwango from Ulundi
in KwaZulu Natal were with us at the end of their three week visit
to the UK. We started with a sandwich lunch in the rooms of the
HIghgate Society, accompanied by a powerpoint presentation by Catherine
Budgett-Meakin's neighbour, Richard Webber, about the Heath and
its history. Then we caught a bus to the start of the walk, so beautiful
on that hot sunny day, expertly led by Richard. Back in Highgate
we found that some more "old friends" had arrived so the enthusiastic
reunions continued over tea and cakes. Finally, and very fittingly, Cyprian spoke movingly about the "Seeds" that Helwel Trust has planted in Zululand over the past 39 years.
There have been some that fell on stony ground but most have grown
and flowered, some in unexpected ways and places. He praised us
for our efforts, loyalty and determination. A fuller version of
his talk will be in the Next Helwel Newsletter.
The Hike raised money for the provision of a new Container "Toy
Library", more accurately described as an "Early Years Resource
Library" which will be sited near a TREE pre-school at Nkandla.
We are very hopeful of obtaining joint funding for it with Breadline
Africa, thanks to links forged by Helwel supporter Claire Brisby.
Leo and Pauline Aylen's visit to KwaZulu Natal, August 2014
Long-term Helwel members Leo and Pauline Aylen
visited South Africa in August 2014. They were able to see several
of the projects which we support. They saw the tragedy of the poverty
and AIDS stricken rural areas but also the warm hospitality of the
Zulu people. Leo's father was Bishop of Zululand so he has many
associations with the area. These can be experienced in his poetry.
Some of Leo's photos can be seen on the Gallery
Helwel Hike 2014
The Helwel Hike took place in Dorset on June 14th,
following the Lawrence of Arabia Trail from the Bovington Tank Museum.
The weather was perfect and the walk suited most people in
that it easily allowed people to come for part of the time. The
"Lawrence of Arabia trail" gave a lot of added interest, and visiting TE Lawrence's grave at Moreton and his cottage at Cloud's
Hill. Moreton church had magnificent windows etched by Lawrence Whistler.
We got into the church just in advance of a wedding and were delighted
that a volunteer guide could tell us all about it.
37 supporters of all ages plus 7 dogs joined in the hike
Helwel Gig 2014
A good time was had by all at the Helwel Gig in
Gloucestershire on 26th April. £850 was raised, and a few
calories lost in the dancing!
Bill and Justine Foster made it all possible. The village hall bar
staff could be seen boogy-ing behind the bar and want us to come
A big thank you to Bill and the other members
of Mal Practice and the Sick Notes, who did a great job (and enjoyed
South Africa 2014
Twelve supporters of Helwel Trust visited our partner projects,
TREE, ACAT and Ukhanye in KwaZulu Natal in February 2014.
A most productive, instructive and enjoyable time was had. You will
be able to read all about it in the Newsletter soon.
Part 1 | Part 2
On 9th March 2014 Cathie and Adrian Lowe ran
the Grizzly fell race in Devon. This involved 20 miles of shingle
beach, steep cliff paths and endless amounts of bog. They did this
partly because they enjoy running but also in memory of their dear
friend, Russ Sharp. They were out with Russ on Dartmoor when he
collapsed and died. Cathie's last words to him were promising to
run the Grizzly. Russ had been closely involved with Helwel for
many years. So far they have raised over £400 for Helwel.
Catherine and Adrian Lowe ran
the Grizzly to support Helwel
Bournemouth Marathon 2013
Sally Walker missed out on running the the Bournemouth half marathon in
October due to a bad dose of flu. Instead, Sally did her own version of the
run in November, from Sandbanks to Southbourne and back, following the
lovely curved route along the gorgeous promenade of the Bournemouth
Well done on raising £777 for Helwel Trust, supported by Chris (on rollarbades) and Ewan (in his pushchair)!
Helwel Hike 2013
I confess to being a little daunted when I learnt
that we'd picked the same weekend for our annual hike as the Silverstone
Formula 1 Grand Prix with its start venue only about three miles
away! However, I was committed to do my bit to raise much needed
funds for ACAT's adult educational materials, so there was no backing
We left there and walked the short distance to
Weston Hall, the home of the Sitwell family, where we were supplied
with sandwiches which we ate in the drawing room looked on by portraits
of earlier members of the Sitwell family. After lunch George, the
great nephew of Edith Sitwell, gave us a fascinating conducted tour
of his family home and then provided us with tea and cake before
waving us off on our return journey across fields to Claire and
and yet more tea and cake!
I need not have worried, and what a wonderful day
we had. Our hosts Claire and John Brisby laid on a wonderful day
of walking over gentle undulating countryside steeped in history,
past a castellated gatehouse, to the redundant church of St John
the Baptist, Plumpton. Although officially redundant, it is beautifully
cared for by a group of Trustees who also ensure that there are
services held there at all the major festivals.
Besides all the interesting things we saw, it was
the walk and talk that was, as ever, such a wonderful part of the
day. It is always so good to meet up with friends some of whom we
rarely see. We don't yet know how much money was raised to purchase
educational materials for ACAT but we certainly had a very good
day. Thank you Claire and John for all that you gave us.
We are sad to record the death of
Sir Patrick Nairne, Sponsor of Helwel Trust
Sir Patrick has been a Sponsor of Helwel Trust giving us support
from the earliest days of our Trust. It was italic writing that
led to a strong friendship with our founders Anthony and Maggie
Barker, Sir Patrick having been chairman of the Italic Writing Society.
The war interrupted his Oxford studies and he served in the army
in North Africa, Italy and France. His distinguished front-line
involvement led to the award of the Military Cross. Resuming his
studies after the war he gained a first class history degree which
gave him entry to the civil service. For many years he held extremely
senior positions in the Ministry of Defence before moving to a key
role in the Cabinet Office. From there he was asked to be head of
the huge conglomerate Department of Health and Social Security as
the Permanent Secretary.
Knighted GCB on retirement in 1981, he then became Master of St
Catherine's College, Oxford. He was also invited to become a member
of the Privy Council and Chancellor of Essex University. In a very
active "retirement" he participated in, or headed, many
other distinguished councils and organisations which reflected respect
for his wide knowledge and experience. He loved art, particularly
watercolour, and exhibited at the Royal Academy.
Sir Patrick Nairne, GCB,MC,
born 15th August 1921,
died 4th June 2013.
Full obituaries in The Times,
The Telegraph and The Guardian
Presentation to Howard Mowbray by our
incoming Chairman, Andrew Pemberton
Africa Calling 2012 £ 23,000 raised for Helwel!
An amazing evening was spent at the extraordinary venue of the
Shaka Zulu Restaurant and Lounge in Camden on the 19th November.
Our long time supporter Claire Brisby came together with Louise
Seligman of Breadline Africa and the Rhodes University Trust to
host a fundraising evening so that the three charities would benefit
equally from the money raised.
A Silent Auction of prestigious donated items and a raffle plus
donations from those unable to attend all contributed to the hugely
impressive total sum raised. Siyabonga kakhulu Claire!!
Helwel Trust was well represented amongst the 450 people who came
to enjoy the African food, music and ambience.
The advice to "dress for Africa" set the tone for whacky
experience of being surrounded by giant-sized African figures and
walls of carved wooden animals. Even the wash basins were "crocodile
Helwel Hike 2012
A brave bishop and a bamboo cross link Cambridge with Zululand
This year the intrepid Helwel hikers followed in the footsteps
of Charles Mackenzie who, when chaplain to Gonville and Caius College,
walked each Sunday to assist the elderly curate in Haslingfield.
Later, inspired by David Livingstone, he went to Africa and became
Bishop of Malawi in 1860. Tragically he succumbed within six months
to malaria but in his memory his sister gave the family fortune
to the Archbishop of Cape Town to found the Diocese of Zululand.
The round trip of over 10 miles was generously sponsored by friends
of Helwel so that we have raised over £2600 towards fencing of vegetable
plots in Zululand.
Our struggle was against only the wind to our lunch at the pub
in Haslingfield from where we went on to the church to see the
fine stained glass window dedicated to Bishop MacKenzie. There
we saw depicted the bamboo cross that David Livingstone placed
on his grave and which now forms part of the badge of the Diocese
Lizzy and Rob Rhodes drive
1000 miles from John o' Groats to
Lands End in a vintage Austin 7 raising funds for Helwel Trust
Lizzy writes on her donation website -
"Last year,my husband Rob asked me to join him on an epic
journey - to be his co-driver from John O Groats to Lands End in
an 82 year old 1930's Austin 7 with no roof, doors or windscreen
wipers! I agreed to it , but wanted to raise money for a good cause
at the same time, as I think it'll be one of the most challenging
things I've done!
As many of you know, I grew up in South Africa, and having been
back there for our honeymoon last Christmas, it reignited the love
I have for it. We grew up in a liberal community, my parents and
their friends fighting against the regime that existed. It was awesome
to return and see the progress the country has made. Yet nearly
a quarter of the population are unemployed, and the poverty in many
areas is still heartbreaking and concerning. I've learnt recently
what superb community development work The Helwel Trust have done
and are doing in rural areas of Kwa Zulu Natal."
Lizzy says -
"Well, I knew it would be hard, hence the sponsorship, but
my word.....it's a long way....! We're both dead chuffed to have
completed the challenge though and have a new list of places we'd
like to visit - mainly in Scotland and Cornwall...! So we started
on Easter Saturday morning, leaving a rather grey, dull and cold
John O' Groats around 10am. The hood remained down for the next
2 days despite on and off drizzle - our longest day was the second
when we travelled from Pitlochry to Wigan - 283 miles - leaving
Pitlochry at 9am and arriving in Wigan at 10pm....! We got to Lands
End on Tuesday at 6.50pm, and then spent Wednesday morning welcoming
in a few more cars, and driving back home to Bridport. There were
no major car issues - in fact, we were both super impressed with
how well the little car went - quite amazing really!"
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