Strathaven Friends of Health Help International

are asking you to save all your unwanted


PAIRS OF SHOES (Tied Together), 


and let us have them

(we’ll collect or you can deliver them to the Metal Container in the Car Park at the rear of Trinity Church Hall off Crawford Street 

The funds we raise using the ‘Ragbag’ charity support organization will be donated to Health Help International’ to help with its work in Zambia and India

Please Help our Effort

To arrange for collection of items 

please telephone 520204, 521059 or 529755

Strathaven Friends of HHI support for the Banyan Tree Tuition Group

The Banyan Tree Tuition Groups continue to provide education and encourage young people in Kerela to reach their academic potential and finally give better career opportunities to their students.

Even through the covid world-wide pandemic both ends, at home and in India have flourished. Here in Strathaven despite the effects of the Covid pandemic we have continued to support these groups and in Kerela where the effects are much greater tuition has been able to continue although to a lesser degree.

HHI helps with the recruitment and pays the salaries of the teachers and at the start of the school year, provides the funds for the students to be given school supplies including notebooks, pencils, pens and other learning aids.

In India many classes have been replaced by peripatetic teachers providing tuition. Here in Stra’ven it has been amazing the various ways in which our  supporters have continued to donate to the Banyan Tree Tuition Groups –  by post, with an envelope through Ian Gow’s letter box, by personal messenger to his house or meeting him in the street, 

In 2019 a total of £2019 was raised and the total to the end of August that year was £1551. The donations for the Banyan Tree Tuition Groups at the end of August this year was £1387 so we are almost on our target to provide five tutors for the whole of 2020 despite many of our supporters having been impacted by the pandemic.

 Many thanks to all our local supporters who continue to make donations and help keep the Banyan Tree Tuition Groups operational and  providing educational support to many deprived young folk in south India.

Tom Sutherland – In the Shade of the Banyan Tree

This is the title of Iain Park’s latest book, a biography of Tom Sutherland, following up his earlier books ‘The Centenary History of the Strathaven Scouts’ and his climbing book ‘Eye to the Hills’

Tom, the son of a Presbyterian Minister, was born and spent his early years in the state of Victoria, Australia. After graduating with an Arts degree from Melbourne University he was a lecturer in Humanities at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Even as a schoolboy Tom committed himself to helping others and as student and lecturer in Melbourne he devoted all of his spare time and energies to many good causes and particularly to helping the young and disadvantaged people of all ages. 

In 1975, aged 38, he travelled to India at the invitation of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charities Brothers in Calcutta intending to spend a few months working with them. He has stayed in India ever since. Inspired by the work of the Brothers and Mother Teresa herself he has spent the last 40 years working tirelessly to improve the lives of the poor, the sick and the destitute people in the southern state of Kerala. Having giving up all his own possessions he has lived the life of those he has been serving and denied himself any of the conveniences of modern life, supported in what he has done by family and friends in Australia and by others whom he has inspired in other parts of the world.

One of these was Ron Prosser, the founder of Health Help International.  Ron and HHI have been supporting Tom for the past twenty years, and providing him with regular funds to enable him to carry out his humanitarian work in Kerala.

Iain’s account of Tom’s life of service has been published in the form of a high quality paper-back book of about 165 pages including over 100 colour photographs.

The book costs £15 all of which will go to HHI to provide continuing support for Tom’s work in India through the activities of his Charity the Banyan Tree.

The Special Needs School in Kerala New Bus Fund

One of the main projects supported at present in Kerala by Health help International is the Happy Valley Special Needs School in Nedumangad.  The present school building provides the base for the Banyan Trees operations in Kerala and from here Philip Mathew, successor to Tom Sutherland is spearheading HHI’s activities in southern India.

Philip and his team of ten staff at the school care for upwards of thirty handicapped children and young men and woman suffering from a variety of life limiting physical and medical disabilities.

These young people are brought to the school each morning and returned home later in the day using two people carriers with each of them usually having to make two journeys each time.

One of them is nearing the end of its useful life and is falling apart due to the dreadful state of the roads in Kerala. Without these means of transport these young people would be unable to receive the education and treatment which Philip and his team provide for them. 

SFHHI has already raised or had commitments for a large part of the £16,000 needed to buy the bus but due to the lockdown and present restrictions some of our fund-raising plans have had to be shelved meantime.

The 2020 RS50

The annual Round Strathaven 50 Charity Cycling event has been a generous supporter of Health Help International in recent years having donated a total of nearly £40,000 to the Charity to date

With this year’s usual event having to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus restrictions the members of the RS50 committee were determined to continue it in some form or other and raise money for its selected Charities.

A ‘virtual’ RS50 was promoted to its regular cyclists, asking them to undertake a cycle run of up to 50 miles during the week leading up to the planned date of 23rd August not necessarily over the usual route but wherever it was most convenient to them and to make a donation on Just Giving to be shared between this year’s two selected Charities, the Kilbryde Hospice in East Kilbride and HHI, specifically to go towards its New Bus Fund (see under Events) This proved to be most successful and the cyclists’ donations have contributed a total of over £2,100 to each of the Charities.

In addition to the above, Iain Park, joint founder of the RS50 and participant in the first RS50 in 2002, now aged 83, offered to try to complete the challenging 50 mile route on the 23rd and raise money for the HHI Bus Fund by sponsorship. 

Thanks to having been able to train regularly during the four months of lockdown he was able to complete the course successfully, encouraged along the way by other members of the RS50 committee. He raised the excellent sum of £5,370 from a large number of generous sponsors which with the addition of about £1,200 from Gift Aid recovery will add a further £6,570 to the Bus Fund.

Iain and the other members of the Strathaven Friends of HHI committee wish to thank all who sponsored him for their marvellous support.


When the Indian government announced that their country would be in lockdown with just a few hours warning, many people were unprepared. At SFHHI and HHI we received a request for assistance from Pastor Wilson at the Neyer Dam; many people did not have sufficient food for their families. Money was sent, from reserves and from specific donations, to enable the purchase of essential rice and vegetables. The pictures below show the distribution of these bags of food.

This is an extract from Pastor Wilson’s reply

“Warm greetings from BGM. Thank you very very much for your support for Covid 19 people. We distributed rice with vegetables to the very hungry people with your all donations.

Thanks you very much . After some people receive things they cry with their happy.

They are very very happy.”

Thank you all for your support which allowed us to respond quickly.

Assistance request during lockdown

Early on in the Coronavirus pandemic we received a request at SFHHI from Pastor Wilson for assistance. Pastor Wilson works at the Neyar Dam with the women who paint the leaf cards. Lockdown was imposed very suddenly in India and many people needed help with very basic supplies. SFHHI was able to respond with donations on two occasions and this is an extract from his reply.

“Warm greetings from BGM. Thank you very very much for your support for Covid 19 people. We distributed rice with vegetables to the very hungry people with your all donations.

Thanks you very much . After some people receive things they cry with their happy.

They are very very happy. But many more people came but we are not able to help that all people.”


Visit to India 2020

In February this year, when the world was still relatively normal, I went to India. No, I wasn’t doing the Golden Triangle, I was visiting Special Schools, Care Homes, and individuals who all benefit from the charity Health Help International. I saw first hand the huge impact that the charity is making to the lives of many special needs children and adults with continuing health care needs. I travelled with Jute Williams and Edmund Plummer from Newport.

We stayed at the Happy Valley School for special needs children and young adults and travelled daily to different establishments supported by HHI. 

Thanal House is a residential home for 22 women with mental health problems. They are looked after by Salini and her husband Shanel, (their 3 year old daughter, Chrissie) and her mother. Work had been ongoing for a long time at Thanal House on construction of septic tanks, and shower and toilet blocks. All were in the final stages of completion but needed an injection of cash to finish the work. Edmund and I were able to provide this from funds donated from our committees. The work was completed by the end of the week and we were able to see the showers working before we left India.

One place that I was very keen to visit was a project beside the Neyer Dam, where several women of low caste are given employment training. Some are trained in sewing and embroidery and others paint leaf cards. I was very surprised when I walked in to see the ladies all painting Strathaven scenes. A request had gone, ahead of my visit, for more of these cards and the ladies were trying to complete as many cards as possible before I left. My suitcase was packed with fresh supplies of cards on my return home.  Please visit the ”shop” after reading this article and check out our lovely leaf cards. Send them to all your friends as a ray of sunshine in these troubled times. The money raised will go back to the ladies who paint them and your support is needed more than ever at the moment.

The Happy Valley School and the Asha Kiram Asram are schools for children with special needs. The schools are a lifeline to the pupils who attend and to their families. In spite of their disabilities the children in both schools appeared to be very happy. They were pleased to see visitors, especially ones bringing Strathaven Tablet or Tunnocks Caramel Wafers. We used some of the funding supplied by SFHHI and HHI  to purchase new equipment for both schools. We felt like honoured guests as the children put on shows to demonstrate their appreciation of our visit and we were all presented with a shawl from both schools as a thank you from the pupils and staff.

Happy Valley Students
Asha Kiram Ashram 

 At happy Valley School, the bus used to transport the pupils to school is nearing the end of its useful life. We at SFHHI  were about to embark on a fundraising project to purchase a new bus for the school, but this has all been put on hold due to Coronavirus. However, as soon as we can we will launch this project to raise £16,000. I just hope the old bus keeps going until we can replace it.

One of the most shocking visits of our trip was the trip to the hospital in Trivandrum. The hospital was very poorly equipped and very overcrowded. Here, Shibu, works alone to support patients who are admitted with no relatives to look after them. He works as a Bystander, bringing them meals and generally assisting them until they are fit for discharge. His work is crucial to the survival of his patients. HHI supports him by paying his wages and providing him with supplies for his patients. This must be very difficult and dangerous in the current situation. 

Shibu and patient

During my visit Edmund, Jute and I visited many individuals who were dependent on funds from HHI to purchase medication. In many cases this was clearly saving lives. This is work that had been started by Tom Sutherland, who is currently in Australia, and it is being carried on by Philip from Happy Valley School.

I had a very happy and deeply moving visit to India where I saw first hand how the money sent by HHI helps to make a huge difference to the lives of many. 

In the current situation with Coronavirus spreading across the world it hits hardest at the poorest communities. When we emerge from lockdowns across the world who knows what the world will look like. As soon as we are able to we will start our fundraising activities again as our support will be needed more than ever.

Kath Russell