Eight pupils and four teachers from Excelsior Academy in Newcastle’s west end spent several days in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu last October and grew close to Sherpas who supported them on their 14-day trek to Mount Everest Base Camp.
They were touched by the kindness and hospitality shown to them on their adventure of a lifetime and have now set about raising funds to help the Nepalese people in their darkest hour.
The 7.8 magnitude quake last weekend is thought to have killed more than 5,000 people, injured 10,000 and devastated the capital Kathmandu and its surrounding areas. Eighteen people died on Mount Everest when a wall of snow, rock and ice crashed down into Base Camp after the earthquake.
Excelsior pupil Dean Martin, 17, has set up a Just Giving page with a target of £500 – all money raised going to the charity Help Rural Nepal which provides better health and education in the remote Dhading area of Nepal.
Money raised from Excelsior’s annual one mile fun run next week will also be channelled into the charity.
The charity has provided equipment for five schools, medical supplies and health camps since 2008, and has spoken of the urgent need to raise funds to help local people rebuild their lives following last weekend’s devastating quake.
Excelsior Academy Business Manager Peter Snowdon, who led the school’s Everest trek, is trying to find out via the adventure travel company who guided them through the Himalayas if their Sherpa guides are safe.
Dean, who climbed to Everest base camp at 17,500ft high with his school friends last autumn, said: “With being there it has affected us very badly, knowing how people lived and how hard it was has only made what has happened worse.
“We saw that the Nepalese people didn’t have strong or sturdy houses anyway and seeing what has happened is shocking.”
Fellow Everest trekker Katie Shaw, 16, said: “The people were just so humble. The amount of times the Sherpas carried my bags when I was tired and if I slipped even a little bit they were there to help like lightning.”
Mr Snowdon said: “We were all moved by the disaster and knew we just had to try and help the Nepalese people in some way after they made us so welcome.
“The people are wonderful and we were all absolutely horrified at the news, thinking how are they going to manage?
“We got to know Kathmandu quite well and learned so much about the beautiful country, its people and culture.
“We don’t know how the infrastructure is going to be able to cope with so many deaths and injuries and decided that we had to try and raise money to help them at such a terrible time.”
Anyone who wants to support Excelsior Academy’s fundraising for the Help Rural Nepal appeal should go to the Just Giving Page at www.justgiving.com/excelsior-nepal