header news donations contact



September 2015

St Mary’s students report back

3 girls

St Mary’s Menston students Niamh Lacy-Roberts, Laura Hickie and Agnieska Bucholc returned from their successful visit to Tiruvannamalai during their summer holiday. Niamh says that they had “the most wonderful time in India.” Here is a short extract from Laura’s very interesting report:

Something that will always stay with me from the visit was just how happy the children were. Their smiles and laughter were infectious from day one, and no matter how tired we were from the early morning starts, we seemed to be almost zapped with energy just by being around them. One of the most effective ways of waking us up seemed to be by rapidly surrounding us the moment we emerged from our rooms – sort of like bees to honey, or a dog to a bone – and every morning we would have at least five children on us at once hanging on to either our arms, waists or legs with no intention of letting go. In fact, morning walks to the dining hall felt like being a member of One Direction on the red carpet, with cheers and shouts of excitement at our arrival, but of course we loved them for it and we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

To read Laura’s full report please visit our Visitors to Tiruvannamalai page or click here.

Peter Byrne. It is with sadness that we report that Peter Byrne, a former Chairman and long serving Trustee, passed away in early August. He had not been well for some time and his last “outing” was to meet Sylvia. May he rest in peace.

Sylvia now back in India. Sylvia has immersed herself in work again in Tiruvannamalai following her successful visit to the UK in July. This was a good mixture of rest and visits to groups of supporters. She keeps in touch regularly with Tony Allinson so that the Trust can respond to changing circumstances. There is currently much to do and to consider on several fronts including audiology provision. Many other issues require dealing with at the Hospital, Nursing College and Day Centres. Also:

The Cathlab. The equipment in the newly opened Cathlab which was provided by a group of Cardiac Consultants was struck by lightning recently and cannot be repaired. The consultants are going to replace the equipment but in the meantime angiograms and angioplasties are unfortunately on hold.

The Local Education Officer has requisitioned one of our Day Centres from the house at Kilpennatur. The children have been relocated temporarily to the sewing centre on the Rangammal School campus.

Books for Nurses. 196 nursing text books have been donated to the Nursing College Library by Leeds University - courtesy of Rev Joe Cortis. Dianne Ward is busy cataloguing them.

100% Pass rate. Our deaf pupils have recorded a 100% pass rate in their GCSEs and A levels in this year’s exams. Most A level leavers are again going on to Further Education. The school bursary fund is in its second year - 10 students are now being supported from the Macauley fund.

The Nurses Bursary Fund is ongoing - 5 new students have been selected for support out of this year's intake.

November visit. A group of 6 trustees and supporters are preparing to visit Sylvia in November. The group will be led by Tony Allinson and includes Bernadette Barnes, Anthony Gilpin and his wife Joanna, her sister Biddy and Tom Cullinan.


August 2015

Sylvia addresses Open Meeting.

A good attendance of old and new supporters enjoyed the joint Trust/SWAG meeting at Holy Name Church Hall in Leeds on 16 July. After an excellent buffet lunch (with thanks to those who provided it), social gathering and a power point presentation, Sylvia spoke about the latest developments in Tiruvannamalai. It was a most enjoyable and informative gathering. Thanks again to Holy Name Church for allowing us to use their facilities. All present were invited to come along to the next SWAG meeting in the autumn. More details will appear on our SWAG page after the summer holidays.

meetingSylvia speaking and answering questions at the Open Meeting.

‘Wow’ factor in Oldham as Newman College
and St Edwards Primary School welcome Sylvia.

The students and staff from Newman College subsequently wrote: “ WOW! Thank you so much for visiting Newman College today. We were all blown away by the work of Sylvia and the Trust. Thanks again and God Bless.”

Newman CollegeMr McGhee the headteacher with Sylvia and the enthusiastic students in Oldham. Sylvia returned to Oldham to speak at the Sunday Mass at St Edwards Church and to meet people from the town at the reception arranged in her honour. Thanks to Oldham parishioner and supporter Tom Cullinan and the committee for arranging this

‘A marvellous charity’.

There was a good gathering of supporters for the evening reception at the home of our Chairman, Tony Allinson, on 24 July when Sylvia was able to mingle and speak informally to everybody. Thanks to Tony and his wife Christine for their generous hospitality and superb buffet. Some supporters had travelled a good distance for this opportunity to meet Sylvia. Our photo shows Bob Duff from the Lambton estates in Durham who met Sylvia for the first time. He had written to say, “I am very much looking forward to meeting Sylvia Wright. It would be very interesting to learn a little more about this marvellous charity and the truly amazing work that Sylvia Wright undertakes. On behalf of Lord Durham we wish you continued success with the remarkable achievements the Trust has undertaken and continues to do so.” Sylvia was able to extend her thanks to Bob and the Earl of Durham for their valuable support.

BobBob Duff enjoying his chat with Sylvia at the reception.

‘A wonderful raconteur’ in Haxby.

Miriam Sigston from St Margaret Clitherow Church in Haxby wrote to Tony Allinson, “It was really good to see Sylvia so well and relaxed. She is a wonderful raconteur and what a pity we couldn't just go on into the early hours, as we might have done in our youth! I got a very real sense of her life in this particular place and among these particular people. She has done remarkable work. The Trust is wonderful. You have such a good organisation and really inspire other people to help. I am sorry we can only do small bits but it is good to be part of the work.”

‘Perfect Double Act’ in Shipley.

Colin Huntley of St Walburga’s St Vincent de Paul Society in thanking Tony Allinson, wrote, “I can't remember a more memorable evening! The format was excellent with your presentation clear, well organised, carefully constructed and most informative. Sylvia was just the opposite, intuitive and whereas you worked to a time plan which was exact, she followed the mood of the moment and instead of talking for 45 minutes she exceeded this by some 15 minutes. Well, she was enjoying it and certainly so were we. You can be assured that everyone in the room was captivated by her presence and we learnt so much from your introduction. You were the perfect double act. “


July 2015

Sylvia back in the UK.

Sylvia arrived from India for a short visit and is fit and well. She immediately started her busy programme of talks and visits.


On Wednesday 2 July she met an attentive and enthusiastic group of Year 8 students at St Mary’s School in Menston:

schoolThey and their fellow students had decided to support the Hearing Aid scheme and, in just one afternoon, raised more than enough to buy a new digital hearing aid for a deaf pupil at Sylvia’s School for Deaf Children. A great effort!

For most of her 33 years in India, Sylvia has been reluctant to leave staff, patients, pupils and community for any length of time. In recent years, the trustees have encouraged her to visit more regularly. Despite her remarkable stamina, Sylvia, who was 77 on 21 January, needs and deserves a rest (although she will not admit it herself!).
In the UK, Sylvia gives impetus to our efforts to support her magnificent work. Her diary for July is a busy one and includes many visits, talks, meetings and discussions. There will even be time for a short holiday with friends, away from the daily pressures of her unremitting 7 days a week work in Tiruvannamalai. Her absence also gives her staff valuable opportunities to take on more responsibility themselves and to prepare for the future. Finally, Sylvia’s visit gives the trustees another opportunity to discuss with her what needs to be done to secure her legacy by succession planning and by strengthening governance in India.

On 2 July, she popped into St. Mary’s Menston to meet sixth–former Laura Hickie who is off to India (pictured below) and a group of Year 8 students who are raising funds for new digital hearing aids.


Jonny Brownlee sets off the Eccup 10

Sunday 5 July was a lovely day for the record number of 726 runners who tackled the 10 mile race around Eccup and Alwoodley. We are very grateful to Abbey Runners for their marvellous support for the second year. One third of the proceeds of the event will go to our Sylvia Wright Hearing Aid fund.

Jonny Brownlee on crutches
A stress fracture could not stop Olympic bronze medal and former World champion triathlete, Jonny Brownlee from supporting local runners and setting them off from the new race venue at St John's Primary School. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope to see him on the podium again in the near future.
Chris Smith (Leeds City) was the first man home in 56mins 37 and Laura Dransfield (Roundhay runners), first woman, in 65 mins 38.
Spectators and runners alike enjoyed the many delicious 'carbs' on the well-stocked cake stall after the race.


Nothing Idle about Jane Houghton (right) as she puts her best foot forward!

Gap Girls head for India

Bon voyage to sixth formers Niamh Lacy-Roberts, Laura Hickie and Agnieska Bucholc who fly out to India on 6 July and good luck with your A level results!
Our photo shows them (below) with the bursaries awarded by the Catenians to help them on their way.



June 2015

New pupils join Rangammal School in June


“Hello everybody! Thanks for all your support.
Bon Voyage Madam Sylvia. Come back soon!”.

Teachers on IT course

Rangammal teachers are shown below in the school’s wonderful IT room on an in-service training course to develop their own IT skills. This facility is a collaborative achievement between Roundhay Rotary Club in Leeds and the Rotary Club of Moon City Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. The new IT room was opened in November 2013. IT has become a major part of the curriculum at the school and levels the playing field for our deaf pupils.



May 2015

Sylvia to visit UK in July

Sylvia will be visiting the UK in July. For most of her 33 years in India, Sylvia has been reluctant to leave staff, patients, pupils and community for any length of time. In recent years, the trustees have encouraged her to visit more regularly. Despite her remarkable stamina, Sylvia, who was 77 on 21 January, needs and deserves a rest (although she will not admit it herself!).
Please see our homepage for details of diary dates and special opportunities to meet Sylvia while she is here.

Arise and Shine

A new badge and motto for Rangammal School has been produced.

Hearing Aids:

Sylvia expects about 20 new starters at the school in June, mostly aged about 4. Once the children are settled in, the Rangammal Staff will start the process of measuring them for the new hearing aids that 157 existing pupils received a few months ago. Our aim is to ensure that all 200 pupils have these aids which give a massive boost to their educational opportunities, lives and future employability. Thanks to the Hear the World Foundation, UK schools and individual supporters who are making this continuing process possible. Each pair of hearing aids costs £285 and as the children grow they need new ear moulds on a regular basis.
HWF volunteer audiologists, Talita Donini from Brazil and Lindsay Roberts from the USA visited the school in February to enhance the teachers’ skills. Talita said: “Before I came, I did not expect to find such good children, such cultural differences, such real poverty and yet the potential to achieve so much with almost nothing. The school team is very passionate and they do their best for the pupils.”

Sponsor a Child

Almost all the 200 children are sponsored and they are thrilled and delighted when they receive a simple birthday card. There is no obligation but some sponsors even send a small present such as a toy, book or jigsaw. These are luxuries for children living in poverty and are always shared among their friends. In return, the children write lovely letters to their sponsors thanking them for their personal support and telling them about their families, school, “kind” teachers, new IT/computer classes, enjoyable celebrations…. and their exams.One girl wrote last year: “I returned to school after my summer break full of energy. Our Madam Sylvia provided uniform and notebooks free of charge. She is my role model.” It costs about £40 a month to accommodate and educate a child in Sylvia’s School for Deaf Children. Wonderful value! Sponsors give what they can afford. For further details, ideas and advice about sponsoring a child please contact Angela Clark on: 0113 2677660

Visitors to India

Recent visitors to India include: Katie Grimbley and Louise Harrison currently at Sheffield Hallam University studying for a qualification in adult nursing. Katie wrote: ‘The work Sylvia and the team are doing out here is incredible and is a privilege to witness.’ To read Louise’s account of her stay please click here or go to our Visitors to Tiruvannamalai page.


Louise with two students at the Nursing College.

2 more gap girls, Maddy Durkan and Hannah Armitage, have returned after 3 months with Sylvia. Hannah reported: “This trip was certainly a once in a lifetime experience. The school is just the most uplifting place; the children never stop smiling and it's contagious. “

Catenians support St Mary’s Menston Students

3 sixth formers from St Mary’s School (Menston) are due to fly out to Tiruvannamali on 6 July and return on 7 August in time to collect their A level results. They had good news recently from Harry Turner, the Charity Officer of the Leeds Catenians, who informed them that they had each been awarded a grant towards their expenses . Thanks to the Catenians for this great support. Bon voyage to Niamh Lacy-Roberts, Laura Hickie and Agnieska Bucholc and good luck with your A levels!


April 2015

Sylvia Easter Message

Dear Supporters,

Easter would not of course be complete without a message from Sylvia and she writes: 

Dear Friends,

With your generous support and prayers, our work in India continues to prosper and develop. 
As you know, we have been running two Day Care Centres for severely mentally and physically challenged children for many years
Although the hearts of the teachers and assistants are big, our resources are small and we have been working with these children in sparse and cramped conditions which have been lent to us, until we can build a unit with proper facilities to meet their special needs.
It seems now that the time has come and through the kindness and generosity of an American friend, Ms Lee Morgan, who works with such children in the USA, and with the support of Rotary, we are making progress.
We have managed to attract the interest of a good architect who is giving his services free and is helping to obtain materials at cost price. I have seen the plans and approved them as the facilities meet all the needs of these severely challenged children.
The new building, in the grounds of the School for the Deaf will accommodate 100 children in 10 classrooms, each with toilets and outside play areas and there will be a small therapy pool and a properly equipped physiotherapy room. 
 I have great confidence in God that this will all be possible before too long. 
We are reminded by St. Paul:  ‘Never grow tired of doing what is good’.
 Love and God bless and Happy Easter !


The site for the proposed Education & Therapy Centre.


March 2015

Headingley Rotary Bridge Drive for Sylvia

The standard of bridge played was high and a capacity crowd filled St Giles’ Church Hall in Bramhope for an annual charity event on Monday 9 March. The buffet lunch, tea and home-made cakes have acquired a gourmet reputation and were served by a team of eager Rotarians. The Sylvia Wight Trust Chairman, Tony Allinson, gave a moving account of Sylvia’s medical work in Tamil Nadu, South-East India. Her Hospital, Nursing College and School for the Profoundly Deaf are to be joined by a new Education & Therapy Centre for severely disabled youngsters. See Sylvia’s Easter Letter on the homepage. Headingley, with four other Leeds Rotary Clubs, is working to raise enough funds to attract an international grant to provide a therapy pool for the new centre. Our photo shows the bridge drive in action. Thank you to Rotary for their marvelous, continuing support.

Gap Girls


Maddy Durkan and Hannah Armitage, former students of St John Fisher and St Mary’s Menston Schools, report that they are enjoying their stay in India - they love being in the School for the Deaf and spending time with the children. They have also been getting some great experience in Rangammal Hospital and on the weekly medical camps in the villages.
See photo of Maddy helping with blood pressure testing.

They have also had opportunities to travel and have made trips to Pondicherry, Delhi and Agra and Chennai for a couple of days.

Maddy says: “We are truly having an unforgettable experience and are both extremely grateful to the Sylvia Wright Trust for giving us this opportunity.”


Hip Hip Hooray!
The first full hip replacement has now been carried out at Rangammal Hospital. Great progress!

new theatre

Re-furbished Operating Theatre.

Invitations to Sylvia
Sylvia will be visiting the UK in July/August this year and instead of one big event we will be arranging a few small get-togethers, offering a chance to talk to Sylvia more personally and hear her views on the future. Sylvia still has a few ‘slots’ remaining during her visit, when she can visit and speak. If you would like to invite her to your small gathering, please contact our secretary John Howley who is looking after the schedule. (0113 2673936)



jumpingStandard 9 students are jumping for joy

Thanks to the continuing generosity of supporters and the active fund raising in some UK schools, the number of children with digital hearing aids at Rangammal School has now increased to 157.

The latest students to be fitted are in Standard 9, ages range from 14-16 years. They had been very patient and understanding as they witnessed the differences the new hearing aids made to the younger children.

They were therefore very excited by their "good fortune" and were jumping for joy when they were told the news. See the photo above of some of the boys: (from left to right)
Yuravaj, Lingeshwaran, Seenu, Pandiyan and Harshath

The youngest children are making real progress with their speech and communication skills. Elumalai, age 4, has made wonderful progress since he was fitted with digital hearing aids in October 2014. See the January 2015 news section for details and a photo.
At that time, he was unable to vocalise. It is great news from his teachers at Rangammal School that he can now proudly say 10 recognisable words. We wonder what they are!

The new intake of pupils who will start at the school in June can also look forward to being fitted with digital hearing aids as we are committed to ensuring that this marvellous programme continues in the future.
On 21 February, two volunteer audiologists from Phonak visited the school to continue the staff training programme, so ably started by Alice Alkins our volunteer UK audiologist.
Talita Donini from Brazil and Lindsay Roberts from USA spent a week at the school, supported by the Hear the World Foundation. We are very appreciative of the long journeys they undertook and their generosity in giving their time and skills to Sylvia’s deaf children.


January 2015

Happy 77th Birthday Sylvia!


Cards for Sylvia’s 77th birthday designed by pupils in Class 5 at St Urban’s Catholic Primary School, Leeds.

Congratulations to Class 5 at St Urban’s Catholic Primary School who produced brilliant cards for Sylvia’s birthday on 22 January. The cards have been sent to Sylvia but Mr Cavadino, Class 5 teacher, has let us read some of the messages :
"To Sylvia, 
I love the work you are doing in India because you are caring for the people and the children who are less fortunate than us. I would like to wish you a happy 77th birthday - just carry on helping the people in India. I adore that you have set up a college for people to learn to be good nurses. Thank you for raising all of this money for the poor, deaf and disabled 
From Joseph (age 9)"

"Happy birthday Sylvia, 
You should be so proud. By selling your things, you set up a hospital and helped loads of people in India. You're an inspirational person and I hope that you have a brilliant birthday. 
Thank you for helping others. 
From Sean (age 9)"

Dear Sylvia, 
Happy birthday. You are a very inspirational person and are doing great. I hope you can continue your amazing work and have a nice birthday. I also hope that you can help lots more people and also get a vet to help the animals that are poorly because I want to be a vet when I'm older! 
From Sophie (age10)" 

To see photos of the children actually working on their cards visit the St Urban’s website at http://www.sturbans.co.uk/year-5/
Special thanks to Mr Cavadino (Year 5 teacher) for organising this. What a great idea! Well done, St Urban’s.


Alice’s Leaving Party


We are glad to welcome back Alice Alkins, our SWT volunteer audiologist, who had spent 10 weeks in Rangammal School where she had trained some of the teachers to fit, adjust and maintain the children’s new hearing aids. Alice also established important processes in the new Audiology Room at the school. She is keen to go back already!
Alice gave a stimulating and most informative talk (with photos) about all this at our SWAG meeting on 13 January. She has also kindly offered to give talks to any other interested groups whenever she can fit them in to her busy schedule. Please contact us if you would like to arrange this. Our photo shows Alice standing with Sylvia and (from left to right) teachers Mrs Vijayalakshmi, Mrs Lydial, Mrs Satheeswari and Mr Sankar at her leaving party before she returned to the UK..
Thank you Alice for all your superb work. We are sure that Sylvia, and all the children and staff would be delighted to welcome you back!


Elumalai hears the world for the first time

Elumalai, age 4, is one of the youngest pupils to receive the new digital hearing aids donated by the Hear the World Foundation. This photo, by Alice Alkins our volunteer UK audiologist, captures the magical moment when Elumalai hears his name spoken by a teacher for the first time in his life. The joy and wonder on his face says it all. Click here to go to new Hearing Aid Project page with more information and photos.

December 2014

Sylvia’s Christmas Message:

Dear Friends,
This year has been very busy in our Hospital, Rangammal School for Deaf Children and the two Day Care Centres for mentally and physically challenged young people. I hope you like their recent photo on the back of the new bookmark. (ed: See homepage)

As you can see, the children were very excited and delighted when we brought them all together in the Nursing College Hall for the photograph. Their transport is much better now with the new bus which was funded by some very generous supporters in Yorkshire.
The children come from very deprived backgrounds and have no other opportunity to develop and learn. Their disabilities are distressing and confining. We hope it will be possible to provide them with a purpose-built Day Centre on the Rangammal School site one day.

With your help I am constantly striving to improve the quality of the services we give to those in our care and to inspire others to do the same. Yet as our Lord reminds us, when we do all that He commands us, we are just servants and we have done no more than our duty. Well that puts me in my place!

Happy Christmas to you all and a very happy New Year.



Happy passengers on new Bus:

Our photo below shows that some of the disabled children are much happier now that they can get to and from their Day Centres safely and comfortably with their carers on the new bus provided by some generous supporters in Yorkshire.


November 2014

Welcome home

Recent visitors in Tiruvannamalai for 10 days in October – November were Tony Allinson, Dianne Ward and (for a week) Carol and Tony Jordan from Roundhay and Thirsk Rotary. We hear that it was an enjoyable and busy visit. They found Sylvia very well. Tony will report the details of his visit to the Trustees on 20 January. This detailed report will include developments in the school which is “still buzzing”. English and IT teaching is improving. A school website is underway. The School’s Annual Day was a “wonderful event” with presentations for achievements, dancing, gymnastics and a spectacular finale with a bonfire and fireworks. Other reports will include developments in the Hospital, Day Centres (“as effective and humbling as ever”), the Nursing College and finances. See photos below. Dianne Ward spent much of her time checking out the wonderful progress of the Hearing Aid Project in the school with the staff and Alice Alkins (see new Hearing Aid page on this website). Dianne’s inimitable report can be found on the Visitors to Tiruvannamalai page (click here) of this website. It will cover a wide range of experiences including her eagerly awaited account of the India X1 v England X1 annual Test Match.

Bollywood Success.


A good number of Sylvia Wright supporters were among those attended an excellent Bollywood evening organised by Roundhay Rotary at Sand Moor Golf Club, Leeds, on 25 October. The club will never be quite the same again after all the curry being prepared in the kitchen and Bollywood dancing in the usually rather sedate lounge. See photo by John Howley. The funds from the evening are to be shared between Rangammal School and John Jamieson Special School in Leeds – another brilliant school. Thank you to Roundhay Rotary for their continuing support.

Abbey Runners present cheque.

Abbey Runners

Many thanks to Abbey Runners for their club's very generous donation from the Eccup 10 Road Race sponsorship. Our photo shows Martin Browne (left) the Abbey Runners Club President with John Ward (right) presenting SWT Chairman Tony Allinson with a cheque for £1,250 at Holt Park Active, their new HQ. Well done to all those runners who included the Sylvia Wright Trust in their sponsorship donations.

New Day Centres Bus arrives


The new 37 seater bus for the two CPMR Day Centres has been delivered. The bus will transport disabled children to and from their homes in outlying villages each day.
This has been funded by some very generous supporters in Yorkshire. An added bonus is that this bus is also available to transport the hospital night staff to and from work.
Nothing remains idle for long where Sylvia is concerned!

New Cathlab saving lives


Patients in Tiruvannamalai with serious heart problems have had to travel over a hundred miles on bad roads for tests and emergency treatment. Now in partnership with a cardiac specialist, Sylvia’s hospital has been equipped with a Cathlab, paid for by the Trust and the cardiologist, for angiograms and angioplasties to be carried out immediately. This is another life-saving venture and, helpfully, some of the running costs are being funded by the state government

Refurbished Operating Theatres

Operating Theatre

The Operating Theatres refurbishment is almost complete and they look impressive. See photo. The smaller OT will be used for “dirty” operations which can manage safely with less sterility requirements. The larger OT has two tables, air filtration and some new lighting. Other equipment is on order to complete the refurbishment fully.

Macaulay Audiology Room operational


The new Audiology Room endowed by the Macaulay family is an essential part of our Hearing Aid provision and a plaque was unveiled by Tony Allinson (Chairman) on his recent visit to Rangammal School. For more details and photos of the work now being carried out in this room see the new Hearing Aid Project page.


October 2014

Rangammal Pupils make great progress in English

Rangammal School pupils are now teaching some of the older domestic workers and gardeners who were only able to read and write their names and addresses in Tamil how to do it in English. For full details and wonderful photos see pages 21- 22 of the latest edition of the school magazine by clicking here.


September 2014

Lucy & Lisa raise £755 on Great North Run


Congratulations to Dr Lucy Furniss and her friend Lisa who both successfully completed the GNR half marathon and raised £755 for Sylvia in the process. Our photos show Lucy & Lisa wearing their Sylvia Wright running gear and looking very athletic before they started the race.

See: http://www.justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/Lucy-Furniss1

Hull Doctors’ fund raising evening for Sylvia

hull medics

Many thanks to Hull doctors and the Dharma Foundation who organised a Social and Wine Tasting Evening and subsequently presented Sylvia with a cheque for £2,500.
The Dharma Foundation was set up by keen, enthusiastic medics from Hull & East Riding. It is essentially a platform to raise money for local and international charities by organising cultural shows and various other fund raising activities.
The group hopes to continue its much appreciated support and to visit Sylvia’s Hospital in Tiruvannamalai.
Our photo show Raghuram Lakshminarayan and Rajesh, two of the Hull doctors, presenting Sylvia with a cheque for £2,500 from the Hull Dharma Foundation.

Christmas Puddings – shop early for Christmas!

christmas pud

Not bought or made your Christmas Puddings yet? Don’t worry as you can now buy a Sylvia Wright Christmas pudding (small or large 454 g). These Ultimate Plum Puddings are made in Kendal (Cumbria) from the finest ingredients and are sure to delight your family and friends on Christmas Day.
Full details will be posted on this webpage in November and an order form will be available in good time for Christmas. All proceeds from sales will go towards our Hearing Aid project for the deaf children in Rangammmal School.
For more details, contact Dianne Ward: tel 0113 2758260


August 2014

Lucy is training for the Great North Run on
7 September.

She is aiming to raise £1,000 for Sylvia. See full details in July 2014 news below or just click on this link below to go to her JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/Lucy-Furniss1/

Hearing aid Project 2014. Progress Report.

hearing aid
Our main project in 2014 has been to provide each pupil in Sylvia’s School for Deaf Children with a modern digital hearing aid. These are much more effective than the standard ones they currently use and will enable them to make even better progress in their education at Rangammal School.
Headingley Rotary kick-started this project in 2013 and 50 children were fitted with the new hearing aids. This number has now grown to almost 80 thanks to further donations by supporters. Improved hearing leads to improved education, speech and social skills. This, allied to good progress in English and IT (thanks to the generous support of Roundhay Rotary in providing the excellent IT room), is providing a real boost to the pupils’ educational and employment prospects.
Now, because of further determined efforts of SWAG member Dianne Ward, assisted by her talented daughter, Frances, and the generous response of the Hear the World Foundation (HWF) we are now well on the way to achieving this major objective.

The Hear the World Foundation

The Hear the World Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life and promoting equal opportunities for people with hearing loss globally. The Foundation has a special focus on projects that help children to reach their development milestones and realise their full potential in life, regardless of their hearing loss.
For more information, see the HWF website:
And under this link you can find the page about our Sylvia Wright Trust cooperation with the HWF Foundation:

Following a successful bid by Dianne Ward with the expert assistance of her daughter Frances, HWF have kindly donated enough hearing aids to fit a further 80 children and these are being fitted in India in September. This is a great leap forward.
Over the next year we plan to fit the remaining 40 children and will then need to replace losses and damaged aids as well as supplying aids to each new cohort of children as they join our school. This will therefore be an ongoing project. Dianne will be visiting the school in November to check on progress.

Audiology Training

As part of this project we will be also encouraging Rangammal staff to develop their audiology skills and will supply the equipment for them to test hearing, tune the hearing aids, fit them, monitor and repair them as the children grow.
The school has good, experienced and dedicated teachers of the deaf who
are capable of taking audiograms and making ear moulds but we are now planning to supply a range of audiology equipment to support this major digital initiative.

Alice Alkins

The Trust is also delighted to report that we have now recruited a recently qualified audiologist from the UK, Alice Alkins (see photo), who will travel to the school for 10 weeks from late September 2014. Her brief is to do routine fitting/adjustments, install audiology equipment, train local staff in the basics and define ongoing procedures and determine next steps

All this is designed to make a real difference to the pupils in Sylvia’s school and we are confident that the results will be exciting and productive. This promises to be a major break-through for the deaf children and we wish Alice ‘Bon Voyage’ and thank all those who have been generous in their support, financial and otherwise.
We will inform supporters once the final details of the project have been established. In the next few weeks.

New Bus for Day Centres

The two Day Centres for Disabled Children (see photo on our home page) have been in desperate need of a new bus to transport the children safely and comfortably to and from their homes in outlying villages each day. Now, thanks to very generous donations from two supporters in Yorkshire, a new bus has been ordered and should be delivered soon. An added bonus is that this bus will also be available to transport the hospital night staff to and from work. A photo of the new bus will appear in our next Newsletter and on this website.


July 2014

Freya and friends raise £85 for Sylvia


Freya, the 9 year old granddaughter of SWAG member, Sue Wilson, organised a cake stall at her school (Woodlesford Primary School in Leeds). Having heard all about Sylvia Wright, she had the idea of inviting six little pals to help her spread the word about Sylvia. Their cake stall raised £85.00.  What a brilliant effort! A special Certificate has been sent to the children at the school.
Sue Wilson commented: “It just goes to show how far having your grandchildren stuff newsletter envelopes gets you!  I've given them all a bookmark and Freya has now watched Sylvia's DVD.”
Is Freya our youngest supporter? Over to you!

Dr Lucy Furniss to run a half marathon for Sylvia.

Lucy writes:

“In September I will be attempting to run my first half marathon in the Great North Run. I am not a runner and so 13 and half miles seem like a very long way! I am putting myself (and Mike!) through weeks of moaning about having to get up early to go for a training run and aching legs and painful knees and a clicky hip... all for a fantastic cause!
I was fortunate enough to spend 6 weeks out in India* with the amazing Sylvia Wright who has dedicated her life to helping the local population of Tiruvunnamalai, Tamil Nadu. Sylvia has established a 220 bed hospital, a boarding school for 200 deaf children, two day centres for severely disabled children and a nursing college. 

During my time out there, I experienced at first hand the fantastic work Sylvia and her teams have done and are continuing to do:

• Providing deaf children, who would otherwise not receive an education, with a place to learn in a happy and vibrant environment.
• Offering good quality healthcare to a population who have challenging health needs and would not be able to afford treatment.
• Providing training to the local community to provide jobs and fulfil potential but also to continue Sylvia's legacy and work ethic. 

This lady is a true inspiration (she is not a fan of curry and dislikes the heat!) and has been able to continue her work with the help of her fund-raising friends back in Yorkshire and other parts of the UK. I would love to raise some pennies to help support the team in continuing their fantastic work. A pound goes a long way in India, so please dig deep! 
By the end of July, generous friends and supporters have already helped me to raise £205 towards my £1000 target.

Thank you very much,
Lucy xxx

Just click on this link below to go to my JustGiving page:


Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the Sylvia Wright Trust and will also collect any appropriate gift aid. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the Trust.”

*Editor’s Note: please see April 2014 section below for Lucy’s detailed account of her visit to Sylvia.

The Eccup 10 race
Before she rushed off to the Commonwealth Games, our expert correspondent reported that the recent 2014 Eccup 10 Road Race went well and was very busy. Thanks to everybody who supported it; the Trust will receive one third of all sponsor money raised. She also reports in a little more detail that the cake stall did a roaring trade and several generous donations were received. It is rumoured that a sponsored slim is a possible next venture (after the SWAG Christmas Pudding sale). Watch this space!

*Editor’s note For those with an interest in these technical matters, clearly not shared by our sports correspondent, the race was won by Nathaniel Williams (unattached) in a time of 54 minutes and 5 seconds. Scott Harrington (Otley AC) came second and Frank Beresford (Otley AC) was third. For a full set of results for the 697 entrants go to:



May - June 2014

Summer Concert Success

choirThe audience enjoying the Harrogate Male Voice Choir

The Summer Concert on 7 June at St Andrew’s United Reformed Church in Roundhay attracted a large and enthusiastic audience. Following a day punctuated with several thunderstorms in the region, the evening turned out warm and sultry. Sylvia had sent a message to those attending thanking them for their ‘never failing support’ and mentioned that the temperature in Tiruvannamalai averaged ‘between 90 and 100 degrees (old style!)’.
Lively singing
The audience was entertained by a lively and varied programme of choral singing by the Harrogate Male Voice Choir conducted by Patrick Lee and the Madrigal Group conducted by Sally Barnes in the spacious and very comfortable refurbished St Andrew’s church.
The all-female Madrigal Group, accompanied by Stuart Thompson, got the concert off to a cracking start with New York, New York and followed this up with several pieces including A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square and the old favourite Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man.

ladies chiorThe Madrigal Group
The Harrogate Male Voice Choir, accompanied by Avril Leeming, then took the stage with Cabaret, Gwahoddiad, She, Can’t Help Falling in Love with You and the stirring American Trilogy. These two very accomplished choirs had introduced a fascinating and unique contrast in musical content and styles.
Joint Finale
The SWT Catering team prepare for the interval rush

The delicious refreshments served at the interval were much appreciated by audience and performers alike before the second half of the concert which included Chattanooga and If (HMVC) and You Raise Me Up and a beautiful version of Bobby Shaftoe (Madrigal Group). The climax of the evening was the grand finale when both choirs joined together to sing two well-known pieces, For the Beauty of the Earth and You’ll Never Walk Alone to much acclaim.
Tony Allinson thanked everybody who had supported the concert in so many ways, not least the singers and musicians, and on behalf of Sylvia and the Trust paid tribute to the St. Andrews’s community for their hospitality and continuing support, financial and otherwise.

He went on: “St. Andrews is a lovely venue but just as importantly we feel both welcomed and assisted by your own volunteers, who have worked extremely hard to make the concert a great success.” The net proceeds are still to be finalised but will be above £1,000. It was good to be with many of our supporters for a very happy occasion and also to welcome some new ones.

You’ll Never Walk Alone
Sylvia often says: “Without you I can do nothing.”
We now reply: “You’ll never walk alone.”


April 2014

Dr Lucy Furniss writes about her recent visit to Tiruvannamalai:


Lucy Furniss (right) with Dianne Ward at the India Stall at the Coffee Morning on 4 April 2014.

“I have just returned from a truly wonderful six weeks in Tiruvannamalai, experiencing first-hand the fantastic work of Sylvia Wright and her team. This was my first trip to India and a great introduction to the diversity, spirituality and chaos of this vibrant country. As a doctor, my main objective was to experience a healthcare system within a developing country.  This I achieved during my trip as there were many apparent similarities and differences between healthcare in India and the UK. However, I took so much more from this trip. The time spent with the children at the school, the long chats with Sylvia, the interesting journeys to and from the hospital (by ambulance, bus, car and milk van!) and getting to know the staff and learning about their lives, all contributed to make this a very special, rewarding and memorable experience.”

To read Lucy’s full and very interesting account of her visit please go to our Visitors to Tiruvannamalai page or click here..


Sylvia Enjoys Her Spring Visit:
a change is as good as a rest (or nearly)

Sylvia has again gritted her teeth and returned to her work in India on 9 April after a break with friends and supporters.
In the early days of her work, Sylvia was rarely able to visit the UK because of visa restrictions and fears she would not be allowed to return to her work.
In recent years, The Trust has encouraged her to come to the UK more regularly, to refresh herself,  meet supporters, gain new ones and to allow her staff in India to develop and learn to work without her constant supervision.
Sylvia sends her warmest thanks to all her supporters for their welcome and encouragement offered either in person or by the many messages and prayers she has received.
Her visit has accomplished much with appearances at many venues including:
Headingley Rotary, Roundhay Rotary, The Hull Hindu Group, St Andrews Church in Roundhay and Holy Name Church in  Cookridge, Haxby Church in York and Cardinal Heenan High School in Leeds.


The ‘Coffee with Sylvia’ morning at Sandmoor Golf Club was a lovely event and was well attended by supporters both old and new.

Both teachers and “Old Girls” from Sylvia’s old school at Lawnswood also joined us. See separate report and photos   below.
The usual meetings with the Trust and SWAG were also held. These are hugely important in keeping us up to date with developments in the Tiruvannamalai projects and for Sylvia to see what we are trying to do in the UK to support her.

Whether all of this constituted a rest for Sylvia is debateable but she enjoyed her break immensely and has returned to her “duties” in good heart and good health. 

Coffee Morning Success

The Coffee with Sylvia morning on 4 April was a well-attended and most enjoyable gathering. Thank you to Sand Moor Golf Club and everybody who supported the event in so many ways. The raffle, cakes, jams & produce, tombola and India stalls all did good business and contributed to the £850+ takings.


Sylvia enjoyed meeting many old friends as well as new supporters. She also did well to answer some very searching questions posed by pupils from four of our local primary schools – Immaculate Heart, St Nicholas, St Paul’s and St Urban’s. We are grateful to their teachers for bringing them along on a very busy (last) day of term.
Many thanks also to the four Year 10 students (accompanied by Julia, their school chaplain) from St Mary’s Menston who came along to play some keyboard music during the morning. Sylvia rewarded them all with an Easter Egg each. See photos.....




March 2014

Hearing Aid Project

Our main project for 2014 is to provide every child with a good quality, digital hearing aid. Headingley Rotary kick-started this project and, by November, 50 children had been fitted. This number has grown to almost 75. Improved hearing of course leads to improved education, speech and social skills. As part of this project we will be also encouraging staff to develop their audiology skills and supplying the equipment for them to test hearing, tune the hearing aids, fit them and monitor and repair them as the children grow.  We will inform supporters once the final details of the project have been established.

Hospital Developments

The Hospital and Nursing College are both running well. In the College, the second batch of 20 students has qualified and is now learning ward management in the Hospital.

 Government services are slowly improving and two developments in particular are worthy of comment. The first is an excellent scheme whereby those below the official poverty line are allowed to have a selected range of medical problems treated at approved hospitals (including Sylvia’s), at the government’s expense. Most dialysis patients for example are now funded in this way.

The second development is the building of a large new Hospital in the town, linked to a new Medical College. These are very welcome developments, although it will be some time before its standards are known and the exact effect on Sylvia’s hospital can be established.

Summer Concert 2014

Arrangements are now being made for our Summer Concert at St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Roundhay, in Leeds on 7 June at 7.30 pm. We have been careful to avoid clashing with any significant World Cup matches so please note this date in your diary!
We are delighted that Sally Barnes will be bringing her very popular Madrigal Group to perform alongside the excellent Harrogate Male Voice Choir in what promises to be a great concert in a superb venue. Box office details will be announced shortly.


February 2014

Revised Brochures now available

Over the years, we have made very good use of our small brochure which describes Sylvia’s work in a nutshell. We have just refreshed our brochure as our old stocks are exhausted. Two copies will be sent out in March to all our supporters with an invitation to pass one on to a friend or to any church or community group they belong to. Further copies are available free of charge from Tony Allinson or Tony Hartigan (see Contacts page). Please help to spread the word.



January 2014

St Andrew’s Raises Record Amount for World’s Poorest


St Andrew’s Roundhay United Reformed Church has raised a record amount in its annual appeal for some of the world’s poorest people. Over £15,500, including Gift Aid, has been raised by the church in Shaftesbury Avenue in Roundhay in north Leeds. The money will be divided equally between KOST – the Kenyan Orphan Sponsorship Trust, the Sylvia Wright Trust and the United Reformed Church’s Own charity, Commitment for Life.

Rev David Pickering, Minister of St Andrew’s explains:

“We thank God that even in these straitened times, when household budgets have to be stretched and stretched, people have found it in their hearts to give more than in all my time here to some of the poorest people in the world.

“With this money KOST will be helped to care for sixty orphans and other vulnerable children at its Children’s Centre in Homa Bay, Kenya. The money will help the Sylvia Wright Trust support a 220 bed hospital, deaf children’s residential schooling, two centres for disabled children, peripatetic clinics providing 80,000 outpatient appointments and a Nursing College in an impoverished area of Tamil Nadu state in India. St Andrew’s also contributes to Commitment for Life’s support, through Christian Aid, of several organisations in Palestine/Israel, such as the YMCA in Bethlehem, which is helping the rehabilitation of, among others, ordnance-injured children.

“KOST, the Sylvia Wright Trust and Commitment for Life will each receive about £5,150 – the final amount is still being counted.

“St Andrew’s keeps in touch with each of these organisations. A St Andrew’s member is a trustee of KOST. Another St Andrew’s member is a trustee of the Sylvia Wright Trust. We look forward to hearing of their work throughout the year.”

Photograph shows the presentation cheque for the total raised being held by, left to right, Gill Waterhouse, trustee of KOST, Barbara Neale, trustee of the Sylvia Wright Trust, Alex Jowitt, representing URC‘s Commitment for Life and the Rev David Pickering, Minister of St Andrew’s URC.


November December 2013

News from the school

After a lot of hard work and the support of a Rotary Foundation grant added to club fundraising, a donation of £10,000 was sent to Sylvia's Rangammal School for the Hearing Impaired in Thiruvannamalai.
This collaborative achievement between Roundhay Rotary Club in Leeds and the Rotary Club of Moon City Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu enabled the new IT room to be opened in November 2013. See photo.Scool IT 1

The new IT room is fitted and working with 30 networked computers. It looks well. Children, staff and parents are delighted. The SWT team visited Bosco College – 3,000 students - 6th form and above, including 400 graduates/undergraduates – a very impressive facility. Bosco have set up the Rangammal IT room and are to help with first years of implementing an IT syllabus there.

Older Rangammal students will visit Bosco College one day a month for intensive IT teaching in small groups. This will be followed up in Rangammal School.
Bosco staff will visit Rangammal to carry out the same programme with the younger children.

The programme aims at general IT/exam knowledge, use of IT in the classroom and work-oriented skills to suit the ability of each child.
Bosco will also support placements through their appointed co-ordinator.

The SWT visitors met 7 of the Rangammal ex-students who have just started B.Com courses at Bosco – they seemed very happy and are coping well in a hearing environment, a real tribute to the education they received at Rangammal School.

school IT


Visit to Tiruvannamalai


A team of UK Trustees and members of SWAG visited Sylvia and her projects for 10 days at the end of November & the beginning of December.
It was a very successful and enjoyable trip.
Tony Allinson will present his detailed report to the trustees at their next meeting on 16 January 2014 at St Andrew’s United Reformed Church in Roundhay, Leeds.
Anne-Marie Rose and Bernadette Barnes have also written reports. Bernadette says:  “The school is buzzing and the energy and commitment there is palpable.”
Anne-Marie Rose’s report (Return to Tamil Nadu) can be read on the Visits page of this website. Anne-Marie, who sponsors one of the children in Sylvia’s school writes:
“For me, the most moving experience of the whole trip was on my final afternoon, when I visited Rogan`s parents (my sponsored child) in their village. I was taken to their home (about 40 minutes away), introduced to the family and shown around their small house. They were so welcoming in spite of having so little.  I felt so emotional and so privileged – after seven years of sponsoring Rogan - to be actually standing in his home with his parents and other villagers, having my photograph taken with them (see photo) and then shown around his fields –an opportunity very few other people have and one which I shall never forget.”


Trustees and members of SWAG with Nursing College Staff.

Dianne Ward, a member of SWAG, was paying her first visit. Her fascinating ‘first impressions’ report on Rangammal School is also available on the Visitors to Tiruvannamalai page – with some photographs. Well worth reading. Ofsted please copy.


Tony Allinson, Anne-Marie Rose and Dianne Ward applaud good work in the classroom.


SWT Keeps 100% Record


The annual cricket Test Match between the "Chairman's X1" (England) and the Rangammal School Team (India) took place on Sunday December 1st. The Chairman's X1 maintained its 100% record of always losing.
The Chairman and Captain of the England X1, Tony Allinson, again refused all efforts to persuade him to field in the shade and to employ a runner between the wickets.
This obstinacy may have had something to do with the disappointing result. This may also have been influenced by a mysterious guest appearance in the Indian team of our SWT Treasurer, Geoff Fuller. Geoff's run may well have tipped the balance! It remains unclear if any rupees changed hands.
Dianne Ward was asked for a spectator’s report on the match and says
“I have no idea on the match score as I wandered off to play with the spectators. I think Geoff's team won? No idea really as I was too busy playing. The photo was really of the team, supporters, enthusiastic and excited children. We 3 women had a special shaded viewing area and seats courtesy of Headteacher, Mr Raja, but we had no idea about the cricket. We just cheered and clapped when the kids did....” Thanks Dianne.


Our photos show the Test Match action and the triumphant India X1


October 2013

Work & Pleasure

In September, a 20 strong self-funded team of doctors and nurses from Essex saw over 1,000 patients in Sylvia’s Hospital. The ENT surgeon, audiologist and paediatrician examined all the deaf children in the school. Three surgeons (Gynaecologist, ENT and Orthopaedic) operated in the mornings and saw patients in the afternoons. The Essex Group also provided a maternity delivery table, a bigger sterilizing unit and a foetal monitor. These were gratefully received by Sylvia who also ‘walked down memory lane’ with the ENT specialist who had worked for 3 years at the Leeds General Infirmary.
Bernie Parker, who helped to organise the camp wrote:
“Yes indeed the trip on this occasion was, I think,  one of the best completed to date…….   . 
Mr Chopra – ENT Consultant struck a nice friendship with Sylvia as they had both trained at Leeds General Infirmary at the same time.   As he is now retired, he mentioned he would like to come for a month to work voluntarily which really pleased Sylvia.”
Congratulations and thanks to this great medical team who once again gave their time, energy, expertise and financial support to the poor and sick people of Tiruvannamalai. See photos.

first day of clinic

patients waiting

quick break in theatre



Ten newly qualified nurses join Sylvia’s Hospital as Staff Nurses.


The first batch of qualified nursing students arranged a farewell function in Sylvia's Hospital on their last working day. Madam Sylvia, General Manager, The Nursing College Principal, Nursing Tutors, Chief Medical Officer and Heads of Department and Ward In-charges attended the ceremony. 10 of them have now joined as Staff Nurses in the Hospital.' Click here to see the latest Nursing College Newsletter


Sept 2013

Great News from Roundhay Rotary!

Improving the IT provision in Rangammal School

The deaf children in Rangammal School get first class education and pastoral care which helps to level life's 'playing field' a little for them. During 2013 we have been trying to level it a bit more by improving their IT facilities. IT and computer studies, being more visual than aural, offer the deaf children life skills and boost their employment prospects. The Trust therefore set out to fund a new computer room based in the Nursing College. This would be used by the children in the day and the student nurses in the evening. Support for this project was invited at the beginning of the year.

Now in August 2103, after a lot of hard work and the support of a Rotary Foundation grant added to club fundraising, a donation of £10,000 is to be sent to Sylvia's Rangammal School for the Hearing Impaired in Thiruvannamalai.
This is a collaborative achievement between Roundhay Rotary Club in Leeds and the Rotary Club of Moon City Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu.
The grant will be used to provide classroom IT equipment for hearing impaired children and to train teachers who specialise in teaching them.

This is a wonderful response to the Trust's appeal for help and we believe that this new provision will make a huge contribution to the education of the deaf children in Sylvia's school. Thank you Roundhay Rotarians for all your hard work and this magnificent donation. More information and photos will be available as the project gets underway.

See the Roundhay Rotary website: http://roundhayrotayclub.atspace.org/


July 2013
Tony stopped by Wharfedale Observer website and suggested that you visit the following URL: Click Here


June 2013
Read the Chairman's July 2013 Letter to Supporters (Here)

April - May 2013

Otley Mayor's Grand Charity Ball hailed as 'fantastic success'

From Ilkley Gazette & Wharfedale Observer

Councillor Mary Vickers (centre) with SWT guests at her Grand Charity Ball

The 2013 Otley Town Mayor's Grand Charity Ball has raised £1,700 for three good causes. Councillor Mary Vickers described the back-tie event, held at the Hollins Hall Hotel in Baildon on April 19, as a “fantastic success”.
Representatives of the three charities being supported during her mayoral year, Leeds General Infirmary's Breast Cancer Research Action Group, the Sylvia Wright Trust and St James' Hospital's cleft palate service, attended the ball.
Coun Vickers, who was accompanied by mayor's consort Councillor Jim Spencer (Lib Dem, West Chevin), said: “It was a very successful and enjoyable evening and we were really pleased with how much was raised for the charities.”
Nearly 100 people in total, including local politicians, surgeons from the hospitals, recently appointed Otley Parish Priest Father Lawrie Hulme, and other dignitaries supported the event.


Headingley Methodist Church adopts Sylvia

methodist church

Sylvia was given a very warm welcome at Headingley Methodist Church when she spoke at the service on Sunday 21 April.  Members of the church community had decided to nominate the Sylvia Wright Trust as their charity for 2012-13 and they presented her with a very generous cheque (the proceeds of a collection) after the service.


Holy Name Confirmation Class ask the questions

Sylvia spoke to the Confirmation Class at Holy Name Church on Sunday 21 April. The attentive group of students and their parents asked her many questions about why she decided to go to India 32 years ago and were clearly inspired by her answers.

Holy Name

A particularly interesting co-incidence was revealed: the multi-faith Chapel in Rangammal Hospital is also called Holy Name. Kate Burton, a member of the parish, also joined Sylvia to talk a little about her experiences as a ‘gap girl’ working in Sylvia’s School for Deaf Children for 3 months earlier in the year. See Kate’s detailed account on the Visitors to Tiruvannamalai page of this website.


Kate Burton talks to the group


Sylvia visits 5 schools

In April, Sylvia was welcomed by 4 Primary Schools: St Paul’s Alwoodley, The Holy Name Cookridge, St. Urban’s Moortown, St John's Roundhay and also by St Mary's High School in Menston. (see separate article and photo below).
The Primary Schools each sponsor children in Sylvia's School for the Deaf and it was a good opportunity to exchange news, photos and school magazines. At each school the children asked Sylvia many interesting questions about her life, her vocation, her work and also of course about India.
Sylvia was most impressed by the staff and the enthusiasm of the pupils in these schools. She has taken back with her a number of gifts of school uniform for the children who are being sponsored.

school HN
Sylvia with the International Council at the Holy Name School


St Mary’s Catholic High School Menston welcome Sylvia

Sylvia was delighted to visit St Mary’s Catholic High School in Menston to meet staff and students and to address 2 assemblies on 25 and 26 April. St Mary’s has an excellent tradition of supporting their own charitable project in South Africa but the students were also keen to learn about Sylvia’s work in India. The Bambisanani Partnership is a unique collaboration developed by St. Mary’s  Menston and Mnyakanya High School in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.
One of the former students of St Mary’s, Dr Louisa Jackson, who currently works in a busy A&E Department in Manchester has decided to spend several months as a volunteer working in Sylvia’s hospital in Tamil Nadu, India in 2014.

st Mary's
Joseph Doonan, Ruth Bevan & Cait Hanstock join Sylvia Wright and Coun Mary Vickers, Mayor of Otley, before one of the school assemblies.


Sylvia meets representatives from Otley Council of Churches


Article and photo courtesy of Steve O’Neill  – editor of OLAS Wharfetales

Sylvia Wright who was on a visit to England from her work in Tamil Nadu, South India, came to the new Our Lady and All Saints Parish Centre in Manor Square, Otley on Saturday 26 April.  She was greeted by Town Mayor Mary Vickers who presented her with a copy of a painting by a local artist, showing the view from Manor Square, up Kirkgate towards the Otley Chevin. The photo shows Sylvia and Mary with Tony Hartigan from the Trust and Bernadette Barnes of the Sylvia Wright Action Group. They are pictured outside the new Parish Centre, admiring the same view as the painting!
Sylvia made a brief presentation on her work to the assembled parishioners from various churches in the town and her regular supporters in Otley. This was followed by a lively question and answer session. She spoke very movingly about her initial struggles to gain acceptance from local people and her often hilarious encounters with officialdom, including the British Ambassador, who became a great supporter. She also explored her life's work bringing healthcare and education to some of the India's poorest people, saying that it was her deep faith in God that inspired her. Sylvia Wright came across as a truly modest but courageous and determined woman.


Mayor presents a cheque
to the Sylvia Wright Trust

Otley Town Council Leader, Coun John Eveleigh thanked Coun Mary Vickers for “making an enormous contribution to the town’s life” at the Council’s Annual General Meeting on Monday 13 May.  Coun Vickers responded by saying that she had thoroughly enjoyed her year of office and was proud and delighted to have raised £9,375 for her three Mayoral Charities: The Sylvia Wright Trust, LGI Breast Cancer Unit and St James’s Hospital’s Cleft Palate Unit.
Coun Vickers, a member of the Sylvia Wright Action Group (SWAG), presented a cheque for £3,125 to Tony Allinson (Chairman) and Tony Hartigan (Trustee) after her address to the meeting. Thank you  Mary for your wonderful support throughout the year!

Footnote: Mary also revealed that she is hoping to visit Sylvia in Tiruvannamalai in 2014.


March 2013

It was good to receive the following letter from the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds when he read our Newsletter and Chairman's Report 2012 (see News Page):From: The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds

I have just received and read your annual report and Christmas newsletter.
To learn of all that has been achieved in 2012 in the UK and in India is both inspiring and humbling.
I want to send my gratitude, prayers and best wishes to Sylvia and all those who work hard to enable the hospital, clinics, day centres, school and college to flourish.

With all good wishes

The Rt Revd John Packer

bishop logo


February 2013

A Day in the Life

A video about a typical day at Rangammal School has just been made by Mr Vinayagam, the IT teacher. This very lively 5 minute film can be seen by clicking here.

Dianne receives award

Dianne award

At a recent SWAG meeting Dianne Ward was presented with a framed photo of Rangammal School staff and pupils by Tony Allinson (Chairman) in recognition of her many years of work and support for Sylvia at Cardinal Heenan High School.
Also in the photo is Cllr Mary Vickers, Mayor of Otley and SWAG member, who has nominated The Sylvia Wright Trust as one of her 3 charities during her year of office.

From our own correspondents

Hannah Wilson
and Kate Burton, our gap students who are working in Rangammal School for Deaf Children for 3 months, write: “It has been the most amazing experience of our lives! Bring on the next two months! The children are absolutely wonderful and they approach everything with such enthusiasm (especially if it involves cricket, dance or drawing). We all enjoyed ‘Madam’ Sylvia’s birthday on 21 January; the children performed dances in the morning and enjoyed some birthday cake. There were evening performances in the Nursing College auditorium by the children and the student nurses (see photo) as well as a drama by the hospital staff. The children, in their superb costumes, also gave excellent performances in the India Republic Day celebrations at the Thiruvannamalai sports ground

We have been to local villages with hospital staff; they were putting on folk song performances to raise awareness about the spread of HIV/AIDS. It was amazing to see how people really live in India. All the village children were very excited to say 'hi' to some strange foreign visitors!”


KatePHOTOS 1. Nursing Students join in the celebrations. 2. Hannah giving out the skipping ropes at play time. 3. Kate doing some teaching.

January 2013

Rotary Funds Hearing Aids The children make great progress in school but their deafness is still a major handicap. We aim to provide each child with a digital hearing aid which is programmed to his/her personal hearing loss. Even partial hearing can vastly improve their understanding, learning and speech. Headingley Rotary made the school its nominated charity in 2012 and has now funded 40 pairs of hearing aids. The first 24 children to receive them are pictured here.

hearing aidsTheir smiles speak volumes: “Thank you Rotarians!”

October 2012

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!



September 2012


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.


April 2012

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 bearersCandle bearers from our schools

lord mayorbishop

Sylvia with Lord Mayor in Leeds Cathedral (left)
Bishop Konstant reflects on his visits to Sylvia in India (right)


members of Leeds Cathedral Choir (left)
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

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!


January 2012
Gap students now working in Sylvia's School. See below.

Gap Students

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'

December 2011

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.

July 2011

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).


September 2011

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.

essex Some of the Essex Team in theatre