The classic tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge in ‘A Christmas Carol’ is one we are all aware of. The epitome of selfishness, the quintessential mean-spirited, miserly, narcissistic old man. Yet as Scrooge discovers the joy of good deeds, he blooms and it’s something I think we can all agree is a better way of living. Not just for yourself but for all the lives you touch along the way.

I think everybody wants to feel like they have had a positive impact on someones life. I definitely felt like I wanted my existence to matter to someone other than myself (and to my family who have to like me by default of course). There have been times where I just wanted to feel useful yet didn’t really know where to start. “Who needs help today?” I’d ask myself. Not that I’d always had that mindset of course but I felt it was time to make a positive change… Luckily I was given an amazing opportunity to not just help one person but to literally improve the way of life for many families and children for hopefully generations to come.


After walking over 500 miles which raised £5,002.58 (which you can read about here – #36 – Walk 500 Miles), on the 14th of August 2015 I headed to Heathrow airport, terminal 4 to catch a plane to Doha with a connecting flight to Kathmandu. During landing at Kathmandu airport I was shocked by the buildings I was flying over; it looked like the place had been bombed; no windows that I could see and mostly delapidated. I’ve never been anywhere that wasn’t a ‘developed’ country. I’ll be honest, before I left I was worried how I would cope and whether it would be dangerous at all. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew I was eager to get to work and see where the fundraising had been spent. I wanted to show my sponsors exactly where their donations had gone and the effect they had had first hand. I think it’s true to say that a lot of people are suspicious of where their money actually goes when giving to charity but in this case every single penny was used where it was intended and I kept regular updates on my Facebook page for all to see.

On arrival I was greeted by Bob Uppington who has been running Shiva charity for nearly 20 years. He spends half the year in Sri Lanka and the other in Nepal predominantly providing educational opportunities for children in many of the schools as well as immediate aid when needed. I met Bob, a softly spoken and charismatic 70 years young man, during a CDMF* meeting in my hometown a couple of weeks before he left for Nepal and a few weeks before the devastating earthquake hit on April 25th. Hearing about the things he has accomplished and keeping an eye on his Facebook posts about the charity work he was doing was very inspiring to me.

*I’ve been a trustee of The Charlie Derrick Music Foundation for a number of years alongside founder Jules Derrick and fellow trustees Steven Williams and Tony Hobden. We have been helping young, aspiring musicians in schools with opportunities and equipment they would otherwise not be able to afford themselves generally giving out around £1000-£2000 a year in bursaries around Christmas as well as ad hoc awards throughout the year. In the meeting with Bob, the CDMF decided to put £1,000 towards starting up a music department that would be accessible to the hundreds of children around the Banepa area. My walk was initially to add to that but after the earthquake the focus shifted to be able to help those in immediate need. Throughout my walk, money kept being added to the total and Bob was busy using it as quick as it was coming in to help those who needed tents, food packs and temporary shelters.

Below are pictures of the guys from Shiva (left to right in first pic) Pujan, Me, Devraj, Krishna, Bee Zen and Bob and in the 4th pic the guy in the red shirt is Govinda. It is amazing to see that a big part their lives are taken up by caring for the well-being of the less fortunate in the area AND they have been doing so for many years now. The last picture is me with Sanjay Lama who is a student I sponsored myself to pay for his education and uniform for the year. He is one of many children who were left orphaned because of the earthquake and is now living with his auntie I believe.

My first day was a welcome like I’ve never had before. As you can see by these next photos it was incredible! We visited GHS (Ginette Harrison School) and they welcomed Bob and myself with malla and a day of performances from the children. Some danced and others sang. There was even one kid who did some comedy. I was then presented with a gift and certificate before playing a song for them. It will be a day I remember for the rest of my life. I’ve never felt so appreciated and I just was not expecting it in the slightest. I really did cry a few happy tears that day.

Here is a little video of Govinda Bardewa speaking after we’d been seated

“…from Shiva charity we made 51 cottages and almost half the cottages we were able to make because of your work Mr. Ryan… He’s a great person for our village and he helped us SO much”

On day 2 I visited the new Charlie Derrick Music Department in Banepa and worked on the following days music programs with Bob and Devraj. So far around £3000 has been spent on the following instruments for the Charlie Derrick Music Department: 15 acoustic guitars, 15 harmonicas, 6 bansuris, 10 whistle flutes, 2 madal, 1 zimbai, 1 tambourine, 1 trumpet, 1 clarinet, 10 small keyboards, 2 large keyboards, 2 PA speakers, 3 microphones, 2 mic stands + decorating and furniture for the music room. It was amazing to see how far the money went. This room and all the equipment in it is accessible to hundreds of children from Banepa, Rabi Opi and the surrounding areas. Eventually there will be some recording equipment and many more guitars for the kids to take home on loan like a library.

Over the following few weeks we visited more schools and introduced ourselves and what we were doing to students in years 7, 8 and 9. They’ve never really been given the opportunity to enjoy extra curricular activities during their school day so when we turned up they were usually very excited and happy to see us. One school we arrived at had 60 students wanting a guitar lesson but we could only accommodate 20 at a time. In time there will be more instruments and allocated lesson time to make sure everyone who wants the opportunity will get their chance.

Unfortunately it’s quite normal for the boys to get most of the opportunities in Nepalese schools but during OUR lessons we wanted to make things equal and the girls really came out of their shell and enjoyed the guitar. Ginette Harrison school in Rabi villiage was the first to include music lessons as part of their curriculum then Seti Devi, Everest, Deep Shika and Sanga schools followed suit which is a great shift in attitude towards including creativity into the kids learning. As these kids have never held a guitar before we were teaching very basic one chord songs but they were SO happy to have the opportunity to do so.

Here is a video of one lesson we did at Deep Shika school

Apart from the music of course, the other important aspect of my trip was to see some of the shelters that had been built. Around £3000 went on temporary homes for those left without shelter after the earthquake and at only around £100 each they can actually last for up to 10 years. Those who were the poorest in the village and in most need of help were selected by the village president. Ironically those who’s homes did not fall down are in the worst position; either they have to pay to have their homes demolished in order to build them again or the house has been weakened making it potentially lethal if another tremor occurs.

Lastly, my friend Gregg Turner who works with Weston Football Club approached me before I left to give me some football kits and equipment the club wanted to donate to the kids in Nepal. Delivering them was probably one of my favourite experiences of the whole trip. Weston Football Club will be working directly with Bob at Shiva charity from now on to supply sports equipment to the kids of Nepal for the foreseeable future. They may well be going out there in person to do some football training and I’m sure they will do better than me and that respect… I’m not very ‘footbally’ shall we say. But I did play against the teachers which we won 7 to 8 goals! I even scored one during the penalty shoot out!

I actually celebrated my 34th birthday whilst out there and it was the first time I had a birthday that wasn’t all ‘me me me’ and it was genuinely my favourite birthday ever. I started the day by visiting the temple to show my gratitude to Ganesh, Chandeswori and Shiva before heading to GHS school to do a guitar and music lesson for the year 8’s. After all that we visited a couple of the temporary shelters your donations paid for including the family who’s home I paid for myself. A truly unforgettable birthday

Between money raised at, The ‘Get Your Rocks Off Event‘ at The New Market and Santanders match funding not only was there enough money to home around 30 families and buy a whole bunch of instruments for the music department but with Shivas help we put music on the curriculum of 5 schools by the time I left and maybe more in the years to come. Around £8,500 in total. Now I am home I have had chance to look back over the last couple of months and really take it all in. I’m so happy I did it and achieved much more than I thought I could. Everyone has been immensely supportive and generous. Without you guys getting behind me none of this would have been anywhere near as powerful and life changing for those involved. I seriously cannot thank my sponsors enough. Crossing this particular item off my list feels wonderful but it won’t be last time I do something to help others. I’m back home now and looking forward to my next adventure wherever that may be. It has become clear that this 100 things list is more than just ticking things off; it’s embracing a much more exciting way of life and it seems to be infectious.

Here is the newspaper article from The Weston & Worle Mercury from yesterday (Sept 17th 2015)

Thankyou for reading. I will end every post with some music for you to enjoy and hopefully share with your friends. Here is a video for ‘Blessed With Less‘ that was filmed in the cathedral square in Santiago. I had just finished #30 – Get a tattoo that means something to me and decided to play it before we had to move on to Finisterre. Just watch what happened…




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