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October 2022.

Successful Meeting

John P Rajkumar, CEO, and his wife Priya

John P Rajkumar, the CEO of of our Indian projects, and his wife Priya visited Yorkshire in October. As part of their week-long trip, they met supporters of the Sylvia Wright Trust and visited local schools for pupils with Special Needs. 

Our CEO addresses trustees and supporters 

At a well-attended meeting in Holy Name Church Hall, Leeds, our CEO and Tony Allinson, Chair of SWT, gave detailed updates to trustees and supporters on the progress made in the three projects supported by the trust: the school for pupils with hearing loss, the centre for pupils with special needs and the nursing college. 

A well-attended meeting 

Despite the difficulties of the pandemic, all three projects are back up and running at strength. Plans for the future were outlined, particularly for the further involvement of partners and local fundraising in India. Many thanks to all those who gave John and Priya such a warm welcome. 


September 2022.

New School Uniforms

New Uniforms for a New School Year
Rangammal School welcomed 37 new pupils at the start of the new school year. Here they are, proudly displaying their new school uniforms. We wish them all the best with their studies.


June 2022.

A Summer Outing

Making the most of a waterfall

The younger children of Rangammal School celebrated the start of a holiday with an outing to a local water park. School began again on 13 June.

Some children preferred a drier experience of water


May 2022.

Sports Day May 2022

Pupils of Rangammal School took part in a regional school sports day, battling with temperatures of 36 degrees!

Competing with athletes from several schools for the disabled, Rangammal took first, second and third places in the 100 metre race.

Eyes down for the 100 metre race. (Rangammal pupils are on the right, in the red Santander shirts.)

Under starters orders for the wheelchair race.


April 2022.

A New Chapter

Sylvia Wright (centre) at the ceremony to mark the handover to new CEO John Rajkumar. He stands immediately to her right.

A recent ceremony in India marked Sylvia Wright s 40 years of service to the poor of India.
At the same ceremony Sylvia took a step back from her leadership role and John Rajkumar formally took up his duties as the new Chief Executive of the boarding school for 200 profoundly deaf children, day centre for up to 100 severely disabled children and nursing college for up to 120 students. She celebrated her 84th birthday in January.
A citation at the ceremony read: ‘Her efforts have changed countless lives for the better and have been achieved through her faith in God, her determination and her untiring hard work.’
John has 30 years successful experience of running Maithree, a large Indian charitable institution based in Chennai. It provides lifetime care to children with special needs.  Currently it has eight small schools for pupils with special needs and seven vocational workshops for the older children. These very professional, sheltered workshops produce goods for commercial sale, thus providing employment and a small income for the young people involved.
John Rajkumar is a worthy successor to Sylvia Wright who has worked tirelessly for 40 years to serve the poor and disabled in India.
The Sylvia Wright Trust, which provides funding for the projects, wishes the new Chief Executive well in this highly significant role which is crucial to the future success of the work.
Sylvia has been working with John for some time now to ensure a smooth handover of all three projects and plans to remain in India as mentor and adviser.


March 2022

New School Year Begins

New Uniforms for the New School Year

Primary schools have reopened in India following the easing of Covid restrictions.
Rangammal School for children with hearing loss admitted 36 students, aged between 5 and 12 years, as the new Indian school year began.  Each child is provided with three sets of uniform. 


Februaury 2022

Improving Mobility

Improving Mobility

Part of the day centre for the disabled has been allocated to a new project aiming to improve mobility for children who suffer from muscle wasting conditions such as muscular dystrophy (MD). 

Some 30 children have been registered.  Most will be treated in the centre by two newly appointed physiotherapists and will have access to the warm water therapy pool funded by Headingley Rotary.  Other children will be treated at home.


January 2022

John Rajkumar, Our New Chief Executive

Mr John Rajkumar, our new Chief Executive

The Sylvia Wright Trust is delighted to announce that Mr John Rajkumar has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of our nursing college, residential school for pupils with hearing loss and day centre for disabled children.

John has 25 years successful experience of running Maithree, a large Indian charitable institution which provides lifetime care to children with special needs.

Maithree, which is based in Chennai,describes itself as “an association of parents of exceptional children . Currently it has eight small schools for pupils with special needs and seven vocational workshops for the older children. These very professional, sheltered workshops produce goods for commercial sale, thus providing employment and a small income for the young people involved.

Mr Rajkumar is a worthy successor to Sylvia Wright who has worked tirelessly for 40 years to serve the poor and disabled in India. We wish our new Chief Executive well in this highly significant role which is crucial to the future success of our work.

Sylvia has been working with John for some time now to ensure a smooth handover of all three projects and plans to remain in India as mentor and adviser.



December 2021

Hearing Aids for Younger Children

An impression of the ear canal is injected so that a fitted hearing aid can be made

The pupils who live at Rangammal School for the children with hearing loss have been supplied for many years with good quality, digital hearing aids. These are worn behind the ear and programmed in order to compensate, as far as possible, for the loss of hearing at each frequency.  The aids help greatly with hearing, speech development, socialisation and employability. A team of six teachers tests the children, tunes and fits the aids and holds regular clinics to complete minor repairs and deal with problems.

Children attending our therapy centre with their parents

From January 2022, younger children who live at home with their parents and attend day sessions at the therapy centre will benefit.  Two classes of three and four years old children will have hearing aids fitted. It is a case of ‘the younger the better’ if children are to gain the most benefit from the technology and from speech therapy.  We are grateful to the charity Hear the World who have provided hearing aids for the last six years for boarders at the school.  Now the charity will supply aids for children in our early intervention classes


November 2021

Covid Jabs for Rural India

Nurses from Sylvia Wright’s college give Covid jabs in rural India

Student nurses from The Florence Nightingale School of Nursing are active in the drive to vaccinate the people of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, South India. The nursing school was built by The Sylvia Wright Trust.

Weekly vaccination camps, usually on Sundays, are run under the administration of the local government health department.

The student nurses and some teachers also supported special “camps” for the disabled, working alongside staff of local government health units. Patients who were unable to attend were visited at home. 

Vaccinations were free of charge to all those attending. No injection was given without the free consent of the individual or his/her guardian.

Nurses from Sylvia Wright’s college on the front line of the Covid vaccination drive in rural India

In India state governments are responsible for providing health care to their citizens. Provision includes hospitals and health centres.  The service is free of charge to serve the poorer sections of society.  The bigger hospitals, known as medical college hospitals, are responsible for training both doctors and nurses.  In cities and large towns there are a number of such hospitals – all free of cost to the patients.

In addition to their training at The Florence Nightingale School of Nursing, our nursing students attend specialist training at local hospitals and clinics, in such departments as paediatrics, ICU, cardiac surgery and maternity.  Our nursing school is registered with the Indian Nursing Council. 


October 2021

Bursary Awards for 2021 Leavers

Students receiving bursaries, back row, are pictured with their parents.

Leavers from the Rangammal School for children with hearing loss have been awarded bursaries. Our 2021 leavers attended a ceremony to collect their awards before moving on to studies in further and higher education.

Each year some 12 students at Rangammal School complete the Indian equivalent of A-levels.

In previous years most of these learners would have gone on to seek employment but, for students with hearing loss, jobs were hard to find.

Now the majority go on to further education. Some attend a university college for the deaf and others non-specialist colleges or universities. Commerce and IT are popular courses.

Most of their families have limited means, hence finding the tuition and hostel fees is a struggle.

In 2014, the family of Denis Macaulay, the first treasurer of The Sylvia Wright Trust, set up a fund to give bursaries to the most needy. Denis and Frances Macauley’s daughter Colette and her husband John made a substantial donation which is held in the UK, ring fenced within the Trust assets.

Each year, the Trust sends an amount to be distributed. Usually, six students are chosen by staff and an award is made.

Courses normally last three years. Recipients of the award are given a further grant at the end of first and second years of their course, subject to sound academic progress.

Usually there is a fairly even mix of female and male students.

Students completing their further and higher education courses benefit from improved quality of employment and a noticeable enhancement in their personal and social skills.

Pandian, far right, and his mother Thavamani, are presented with a bursary award.


September 2021

Celebrating Teacher’s Day

Children greet staff at ceremony to mark Teacher’s Day

As education gradually returns to normal in India, students at the nursing
college and pupils at the school for deaf celebrated Teacher’s Day on 5 September.

The residential school accommodates 200 profoundly deaf children and the nursing college 120 students in the town of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, South India.

Children at the education and therapy centre have yet to return.
Long service certificates were issued to teachers. Pupils and student nurses staged performances of drama, dance and mime.

Although the senior children had only returned to school three days previously, they managed to put on a very enjoyable entertainment for learners and teachers.  The nursing students who had returned earlier were able to give a more practised performance.

Senior boys stage a mime

School governor Mr. Subash was a guest of honour and kindly gave a donation towards a celebratory meal. 

A meal of celebration

Long Service Certificates were awarded to staff members who have given 12 years service. 
It was a most enjoyable way to launch the new school year.


August 2021

Sylvia’s projects start to reopen

India along with many countries has had a hard time during the COVID Pandemic, though things are at last starting to improve a little.
Sylvia’ s projects have all been in lockdown for almost 18 months, though the staff have done their best to stay in touch with the children, the student nurses and their families and to provide what relief they can
Buildings and equipment have been carefully maintained and all staff have been retained and paid a fair proportion of their usual salaries.
At last, things are starting to open up again.
All of the student nurses have returned as have the older children in  the school.
Older ones have been vaccinated and scrupulous routines and tests and checks are regularly carried out.

The returning nursing students

Returning students in the School for the deaf

Interviewing returning students with parents


March 2021

Lockdown Resumes

Heading Home Again

Unfortunately the school had to be closed again in February as Covid infections rose in Tamil Nadu. All pupils, apart from the top exam class, returned home. 

Keeping In Touch

Meeting for Parents 

School staff are doing their best to keep in touch with the pupils and their parents.  All are desperately hoping for a resumption of education.

Nursing Recruitment 

Nursing Education Continues 

The nursing college has remained open since January. The number of students has increased: 35 new students have joined this year. The college is getting nearer to its target roll of 120 students (40 in each year group) taking courses lasting three years.


February 2021

Education Continues Despite Lockdown

As the lockdown continues staff keep in touch with pupils via online classes, telephone calls and, where the area is free of Covid infection and families show no symptoms, occasional home visits.

Staff visit pupils at home during lockdown.

Many children are telling staff how much they miss not only their education but also the social life they experience in school.

Christmas, New Year, Pongal and birthdays have been marked despite the lockdown.

Maths teacher Mr Elanchezian places the Christ child in the crib.

The President of RMRS, Mr.Pugazhenthi, generously hosted a special meal for staff and their children on New Year’s Eve.

New Year celebration meal for staff

For the Hindu festival of Pongal the traditional dish was prepared from the new harvest of rice boiled in milk with jaggery (raw sugar). Staff telephoned festival greetings to pupils.

In the absence of pupils Sylvia’s 83rd birthday in January was celebrated on a smaller scale than usual: the children of the staff stood in for all the others who had not been allowed back by then.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- January 2021

Hearing and speech for the very young

Learning speech through play

Fitting a hearing aid

One of Sylvia’s projects, which often goes unnoticed, is her early intervention class for 3 and 4 year olds.

These children do not board at the school but come in each day with their mothers to try to improve their hearing, their listening and their speech at an early age as is possible.

Early intervention is very valuable and effective and some of the children go on to main stream schools at the age of 5, others join Rangammal School which serves children with severe hearing impairments.

Plans are in place to enhance this service by the provision of digital hearing aids and enhanced speech therapy.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- December 2020


Every November, a service is held in Sylvia’s school for the deaf, to remember and to pray for all those who have helped make her work possible, especially those who have passed away.

For the last 38 years an army of supporters and well wishers have encouraged, advised and funded the school, the day centre, the nursing college and all the other services in this still poor area of Tamil Nadu.

In the school’s small chapel photographs of benefactors are displayed when available.

The children could not be present this year but the service was attended by many of the staff, representing all the main religions.

Deceased students, staff, supporters and benefactors and their families and friends were remembered.

October 2020

Schools Remain Closed

Classrooms are still empty.

Sadly the Covid-19 virus is still rampant in India, albeit with tentative signs of some lessening. The school, day centre and nursing college remain closed and are unlikely to reopen before January.

Home Learning and Deliveries

Staff member delivers essential supplies

Sylvia is doing all she can to provide some remote learning and essential supplies for the poorest and to maintain contact with staff and pupils.

Pupil taking part in an online class via WhatsApp

A socially distanced staff meeting

Keeping In Touch

Sylvia on a Zoom call

Trust members are keeping in regular touch with Sylvia by phone, e-mail and Zoom – all a far cry from her early days in India when mail took four weeks, phone calls were unreliable and the first fax machine was a miracle”.  Nevertheless Sylvia is very much isolated by social distancing requirements and is very appreciative of calls and mail from supporters.  

Virus Spreading

The virus has spread from the big cities into the rural areas, including Thiruvannamali.  There have been a number of serious infections, a few of them amongst staff and their families. Fortunately these have not resulted in any deaths to date. 


June 2020

India in Lockdown 

India, like the UK, has been in lockdown since March. Statistics on the virus have been a little uncertain due to limited testing and as medical facilities have become stretched. However it is clear that the cities have suffered most, with many, many migrant workers trapped without jobs or income and desperate to make their way to  home villages.Things have been somewhat better in the rural areas but even in small towns the new norm has become empty streets and closed shops.

Sylvia herself is well and as resilient but all three projects are closed until further notice.The nursing students are getting some structured online tuition but have been unable to take their end of year exams. The children in the school for the deaf and in the day centre are all at home with few facilities for continued learning but each member of staff has been allocated six children with whom to keep in touch by phone. These contacts and the food parcels sent to the most needy have been much appreciated by families.


In addition to their academic studies, the children of Rangammal School are encouraged to join in games, gymnastics, running, basket ball and volley ball. Many are very good runners.

Parent’s Day

The School has a Parents Teacher Association which meets on the last Saturday of every month. This Saturday is known as Parents Day and the children look forward to it very much.  Fathers, mothers, grandparents and other family members come along and usually bring ‘food from home’. Nothing can compare with ‘home cooking’.  The school has to be residential as the children come from a wide catchment area.  This means that for approximately ten months of the year, the staff not only have to provide education but also to meet the needs we all have for affection, security, and acceptance within the society in which we live.  Quite a tall order!


January 2020

Sylvia celebrates her 82nd Birthday

On 21st January, Sylvia celebrated her 82nd birthday with the staff, students, children and parents. A large number of past students came back also, many with wives or husbands to say thank you for all the care and education Sylvia had given them. Altogether, 800 sat down to a buffet. 


December 2019

Clowns visit the Day Centre

Lee Morgan arranged for a group of visiting German clowns to give a show for the children in the Day Centre for children who have disabilities. None had seen clowns before but all were thrilled by the antics.

The clowns

The audience

A second family

Tony Allinson paid his annual visit to the three projects in early December. He was delighted to meet the children sponsored by himself and Christine and by his own children.

Tony's "Indian family"

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- November 2019

The new children with their first hearing aids 

New Hearing Aids

All children new to the school for the deaf this year have been fitted with a high quality digital hearing aid. Every starter had a hearing test so that each device could be tuned to their individual hearing loss. The aids were kindly given by Hear The World, the charitable arm of manufacturers Phonak. The charity has also replaced all 170 hearing aids they gave to the children in the main school five years ago.

Sylvia's cows

Sylvia is very fond of animals and for a long time has kept a small herd of cows at the school. Cows’ milk provides an important source of protein in what is mostly a vegan diet. Sylvia had a family connection with farming and visits the cows each evening, often with some of the children. All take a keen interest in the cows’ wellbeing. The milk is of higher quality than is locally the case but, in the absence of full pasteurisation, it is always boiled before use.


October 2019

New Admissions get new hearing aids

19 new children were admitted this year to Sylvia's schoool for the deaf.Each of them has had a hearing test and been fitted with a high quality digital hearing aid tuned to their individual hearing loss. The hearing aids were kindly given by "Hear The World" the charitable arm of manufacturers Phonak. Hear teh World have also replaced 170 aids they gave to the children in the main school five years ago.

Lee Morgan makea another visit.

Lee who is from San Fransico has been visiting the Day Centre for chidren with disabilities for many years. She was the prime mover behind the new buiding project and raised much of the funding needed.. The buiding also houses a warm water pool which allows physical therapy for the chidren with muscular or skelatal problems, The warm water and reduced gravity much reduces any pain. 

Yoga is now on the agenda

All of the children in the school for the deaf now take part in regular yoga sessions run by a professional.
As expected, the exercises are very beneficial both physically and mentally.

New classrooms for the Nursing College take shape

The number of students in the college is set to rise from 60 to 120. Additional dormitories have already been added and now two new classrooms are being built on top of the existing bulding. They will be completed shortly.


June 2019

This photo shows all the children and staff of Rangammal School and the day centre with the student nurses and staff of the nursing college.


April 2019

Exam time again

Students revising for exams
The school year in India runs from June to April with the long holidays taken in the second half of April and in May. This avoids the very hottest part of the year when temperatures reach over 40 degrees centigrade. February and March are exam times and revision reaches fever pitch with extra classes before and after school.

Food Fair and Road safety

A stall at the food fair

A road safety project
Rangammal School for children who have hearing impairments is residential and the children only go home in the main holidays though parents, grandparents and siblings visit their children every month for “Parents Day”. The children are thus quite sheltered and so every effort is made to add to the standard curriculum with interesting and stimulating input. Daily newspapers are provided and the news is watched and discussed regularly. On Sundays, videos are shown in the auditorium on a range of subjects and the school participates in all the main festivals of all the main religions. Recently a road safety campaign was featured  and the school set up it’s own “Food Fair”. Twelve groups off children were encouraged to buy and prepare a very wide range of foods which they then bought from each other – learning about buying and selling, currency, and even haggling. The quality of each item was discussed as well as its nutritional value and each stall calculated its own profit.


March 2019

80 Nursing Students Now in Training

Nursing students and staff, February 2019

The Nursing College opened in 2009 with just 20 students, starting their three year course. For some years the college operated with 60 students, all girls. Further growth is now planned to bring the numbers up to its capacity of 120.

Already 80 students are in training, including three boys!

All the nursing students who qualified in 2018 have found responsible jobs. The qualifications of our students  and their respect for the patient makes them very popular with prospective employers. One employer even visits the college to conduct interviews!

New Autism Unit Opens in the Day Centre

The first group of children with autism

Autism is now becoming properly recognised and the Day Centre has just started a small class for very young children with autism. Two specially trained staff and carers have been recruited.

Pupils Learn Sign Language

Former pupil Ellammal (pictured right) gives a signing class

Pupils at the School for children with hearing impairments are now learning sign language in a structured way. This builds on the huge progress made in recent years in hearing aids, audiology and speech therapy. Three teachers of ‘signing’ have given staff and children a three months course. Ellammal, (pictured above) is a former pupil of the school who has hearing loss.


December 2018

Annual Trustee Visit

Tony Allinson has reported back on a very successful visit to see Sylvia and to inspect the projects. He was accompanied by Sue Wilson and by Anthony Gilpin, Joanna Gilpin and friends. Meetings were held with Sylvia and her staff on a wide range of topics and as always, the children's welcomes were spectacular. All of the projects are running well with a number of encouraging new developments. As usual, the group visited some of the children's homes and met their families.

One of the family visits

School for the Deaf is thriving

The school is a happy place with high standards of education and pastoral care. IT is still a favourite subject and is being developed further to improve the children’s employment options. Audiology is also developing with enhanced speech therapy and signing added to the children’s digital hearing aids to encourage total communication.

Some of the 32 domestic workers

Mrs Chandra the new speech therapist

New Day Centre is settling down nicely

Plants grow quickly in India and so the landscaping of the new centre is almost complete. Many ne items have been purchased for both play and therapy and the children feel at home. They are given milk and two meals a day together with milk and some supplements.

Playtime in the new centre

Breakfast in the new centre

28 new nurses

28 new nurses have started their 3 year course, with 20 having qualified from the 2015 intake. The visitors were privileged to attend the lamp lighting ceremony at which the new nurses take their nursing oath in front of Sylvia. At the same time the newly qualified nurses returned to the college to receive their certificates - all attended by proud parents -a most moving occasion.

The Lamplighting Ceremony


October 2018

New bus for the Nursing College

The number of students in Sylvia's Nursing College has now reached 75 and will go on increasing up to 120.
This means they need additional transport to get them to the various hospitals and clinics where they do their practical training. A new, 50 seater bus has been purchased and has just arrived.

New bus

New bus full of nurses

Blessing the new bus

Deaf children win awards in Chennai.

Last month, a group of the deaf children were invited to take part in a number of competitions against other schools for the disabled. They took place in the state capital of Tamil Nadu - Chennai. Amidst great excitement the children travelled with their teachers and with Sylvia and swept the hoard, returning with many awards and first prizes.

First prize for dance

First prize for face painting

The school Party


September 2018

17 students receive bursaries to support them in higher education

The bursary students with Sylvia

In recent years, many of the students at Sylvia’s school for the deaf have gone on to further education at Universities or Colleges. That they can succeed, in a hearing environment, when they are all very deaf, is a tribute to the care, the education and the audiological support they have been given from the age of 4 up to 18.
However, few of the parents can afford the fees and accommodation costs and so the family of Denis and Frances Macaulay (founder members of the Trust) set up a bursary fund. Each year, Sylvia selects the most needy and the fund pays half their fees. The students return to Rangammal each summer to meet with Sylvia and the staff and to report on their progress. This year there were 17 students who benefited, spread over three years of their courses.

One of the many thank you letters


August 2018

Day Centre children join in the celebrations


For the first time, the children from Sylvia’s Day Centre for disabled children were able to join in the annual celebration of India’s Independence Day.
The children gave a little show and they and their parents were delighted to receive medals and certificates from the Collector who is the chief government official in the area.


July 2018

Sylvia's Summer visit goes well

Sylvia has just returned to her work in India after another very successful summer visit. She had a very busy two weeks meeting supporters, before a well earned holiday with friends. She visited three schools, and spoke at 7 church services and at two Rotary clubs as well as meeting the North Leeds Scouts who are going to form links with Sylvia’s school. Two very enjoyable coffee mornings were held, one at The Immaculate Heart Church in Leeds and one at Our Lady and All saints in Otley.
On her last weekend she was presented with the Leeds Diocesan silver medal by Fr Pat Smythe and with a certificate from Leeds City council, both endorsing her many years of service to the sick and the disabled in her remote and poor part of the world.
Supporters, old and new had a marvellous opportunity to listen to and to speak to Sylvia and to hear her illuminating and often amusing answers to their questions.

22 new children enter the School
The new School year in India starts in June. This year, 22 new children have joined, 9 of them are the usual little ones and the rest are children who have made kittle or no progress at "regular" schools, which make little or no provision for the deaf.

new students

New school uniforms for all the children
Sylvia has designed a new school uniform for all the 210 children in the school for the deaf. The uniforms are made in the school sewing centre.


The younger children in their new uniforms


The older children in their new uniforms

New Physiotherapist appointed
The Day Centre has employed an occupational therapist for some time. Sylvia has now recruited a mainstream physiotherapist - Mrs Lakhsmi - who will work with the children who have muscular or skeletal problems and who need special exercises to moderate and improve their condition.

Mrs Lakshmi working with the children.

Suzanne Rose makes her third visit
Susanne Rose, a highly qualified hydrotherapist, currently living in Singapore is making her third visit to the new Day Centre. Suzanne is continuing to train the staff is safety procedures and in hydrotherapy techniques. Many of the children with muscular or skeletal problems benefit greatly for exercising in warm water. the rest of the children and the deaf children also use the pool for play and relaxation. As expected the facility is hugely popular.

Suzanne Rose at work


March 2018

School leavers outing
“The school year in India ends in Mid April to avoid the hottest month of the year which is May. This year, 25 of the older children have left and most of them, subject to their exam results are hoping to go on to further education. Popular choices are Commerce and Computer Studies. Most of the students have been at Rangammal School since they were 4 or 5, so there was some inevitable sadness but great satisfaction and gratitude for the education, care and life chances they had been given by Sylvia, her staff and of course their many supporters in the UK and elsewhere.
As a last treat, Sylvia took them all on an “outing” to a hill station which was a first for many of them had seen one. They all had a most enjoyable and memorable weekend”

boarding the bus

excitement on the bus

visit to adventure park

taking Sylvia on the water

farewell photograph

February 2018

Winter Visitors
In February, Sylvia had 4 visitors with a professional interest in disability.

Suzanne Rose, a Senior Hydrotherapist from the UK, currently based in Singapore, made her second visit, to refresh the training of the staff who look after the children in the pool. In addition to actual therapy methods, Suzanne reinforced safety training, evacuation and emergency procedures and gave advice on sanitation.

Heather Angilley a senior Physiotherapist form Yorkshire also made her second visit to give further training and advice to the Staff in the Day centre for disabled children. This included assessments, records, physical therapies, manual handling and wheelchair and equipment use and maintenance.

Eleanor Clark form Leeds worked with Mrs Chandra the newly appointed speech therapist who is concentrating on improving the speech of the younger children in both the Day Centre and the School for the hearing Impaired..

Crystal, a very experienced audiologist from the Hear the World Foundation (the charitable arm of Phonak) made her fourth visit to refresh the training of the 6 teachers who look after audiology. Crystal held training and problem solving sessions and introduced the teachers to Phonak’s on line learning systems. She also set up a video conferencing facility which the teachers will use each month to stay in touch and raise any difficulties they encounter.


January 2018

80 not out !
Sylvia celebrated her 80th birthday on 21st January. The day began at dawn with the Hindu ceremonies, followed by the Christian ceremonies at 11am and then the Muslim, all reflecting the peace and diversity within Sylvia’s work. 1500 well wishers came to congratulate Sylvia and after a shared lunch, the children from both the school for the hearing impaired and the new day centre for children with disabilities the nurses, together with the teachers, gave a marvellous performance of both traditional and modern Indian dancing and gymnastics.
Good wishes from around the world !
Sylvia was delighted to receive many cards and messages from her supporters in the UK and elsewhere, including some beautiful handmade cards from our supporting schools. The two bishops of Leeds sent kind endorsements (see website) and Leeds City Council sent Sylvia a special recognition award for outstanding compassion.Highlights of the visit included the opening of the new Day Centre and the School Annual Day. Many useful discussions also took place on IT, Audiol

Starting the day
The Hindu blessing
The Christian blessing
The Muslim blessing
Sylvia passing on her blessing of 80 years
The congregation for Mass
And don't forget the cake !
letter marcus
letter nic



December 2017

Chairman Tony Allinson has just returned from his annual visit to see Sylvia. Highlights of the visit included the opening of the new Day Centre and the School Annual Day. Many useful discussions also took place on IT, Audiology, Sponsorship, Finance and many other topics. Tony reported that Sylvia was well and as busy if not busier than ever. In particular he was pleased that England beat India in the annual cricket match for the second year in a row (after 11 consecutive losses).


Tony Allinson with Tom Cullinan and some of the School Annual Day dancers


School annual day some performers


School annual day - the audience


September 2017

High Flying Trio back to earth: video and report

As mentioned in the August news below, Cait, one of our three recent gap students, has now provided an interesting report about their time in Tiruvannamalai including a summary of their work and activities there. Please click here to read the report.
Cait received her BSc degree (Product Design) with First Class Honours from the University of Leeds just before she flew out to India; Emma was awarded her Master’s degree (LLM in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice) on her return to Leeds and Sophie has now gone off to Manchester University to study medicine.
It was great that they were able to take on such different challenges in India and we thank each one of them for all their voluntary work and commitment to those less fortunate than themselves. They clearly gave a great deal to the children (and nurses) who obviously enjoyed being with them and learned a great deal from them.
We wish them every success in all they undertake in the future.

Cait has also put together a lively video of some of the work (and fun & games) they enjoyed with the children and nursing students. What a great impact they had and what a great video – so full of life and colour! Impressive dance routines too……
Who would have known that the children in the school were profoundly deaf?
Please click here to watch the video (which lasts about 3 minutes)


August 2017

Sylvia’s visit
Sylvia enjoyed her visit to the UK and looked well and rested after her brief holiday. She was given a ‘Bon Voyage’ send-off after the SWAG meeting on 14 August prior to her journey back to Tiruvannamalai.
She is now back safely and has recovered from the journey.

Although Sylvia has handed the hospital over to Dr Pandian, she continues to visit it occasionally and reports that things are going well.
As promised, a good deal of financial investment has been made by Dr Pandian’s Vision & Mission Trust. The trauma centre is up and running, a new ICU has been opened and a new CT scanner and digital x ray have been installed.

Gap Students
Our 3 gap students have now returned home after their successful time in India. Cait, Emma and Sophie were actively involved as volunteers in the School, Nursing College and the new Education & Therapy Centre. Their reports and video illustrating their experiences will be posted on this website as soon as they have been completed.
In the meantime, Emma says: “I'm already missing the children! We all loved our time at the school; it was an unforgettable trip - one which I will remember forever.”


Cait (seated) and Emma flower arranging


Sophie and pupil having fun

gap3 Cait doing some teaching


July 2017

Sylvia meets supporters at Coffee Morning
Sylvia enjoyed the opportunity to meet and speak to many supporters at a well-attended and successful coffee morning at Sand Moor Golf Club on Monday 17 July.
She also spoke to the gathering about recent changes in India and in her projects. She answered questions put to her by local school children as well as former gap students who had spent time with her in India.
Sylvia chats to supporters.
Although this was not primarily a fund-raising event, the cake and produce stall sold out and there was also excellent business at the bottle, bric-a-brac and Indian artefacts stalls. The traditional raffle also raised welcome funds to support Sylvia’s ongoing work in Tiruvannamalai.
Musical entertainment was kindly provided by St Paul’s and St Urban’s Primary Schools.
Our photo shows the St Urban’s musicians performing to an appreciative audience.

Hydrotherapy Pool now open at Education & Therapy Centre

The hydrotherapy pool is now open for the disabled children at the new Centre. Our photo shows a young boy enjoying a wonderful form of therapy with the help of the staff.

The landscaping for the centre is now almost completed.


June 2017

Nursing College to expand
The College, which opened in 2009, currently admits 20 village girls per year. All have done well, have passed their exams and found employment. Just as importantly, they have been imbued with Sylvia's care and compassion. "Rangammal Nurses" are a credit to themselves, their families and Sylvia. The main college buildings will readily absorb an increase and the only requirements are more hostel accommodation and the approval of the Indian Nursing Council. Sylvia is now progressing both matters with a view to increasing the intake to 40 each year leading to 120 in total over 3 years. Apart from the initial building and equipment costs (met by the Trust) and Bursary donations for the poorest students the College is self-funding. 

Nurses in a lecture room.

Back to School!

After their summer exams, children went home for their holidays to enjoy more time with their families. They returned to school later than usual this June (because of a drought) to find more improvements. The school has been redecorated

decorateDecorators working in school
and the bathrooms refitted. The remaining group of children are being fitted with digital hearing aids – again donated by Hear the World Foundation – meaning every child in the school now has one. Another major step forward is the appointment of a Speech & Language Therapist who will be focussing her work on the primary age children; all the children now have conversation classes to help their speech and social development. Sponsors have been getting ‘thank you’ cards and details of their child’s exam results and progress in the school.

Integrated Education & Therapy Centre

On 15 March 2017 (World Disability Day) the new Integral Education and Therapy Centre (IETC) was inaugurated with a Hindu ceremony and Christian blessings. The dream has now become a reality although there is still work to do on physiotherapy and hydrotherapy equipment, wheelchairs and furniture. Landscaping and a special playground (vital for the development of children with mental and physical challenges) are in progress.

centreLandscaping now in progress.

An empty space awaiting furniture

schooolSylvia in new IETC room

school2Playtime in the IETC


May 2017

A message from Dr Pandian – the new owner of Rangammal Hospital:

I am a native of Tiruvannamalai but did my medical training in Chennai and now run a team of hospitals in and around Chennai.
I have been familiar with Rangammal Hospital for many years. Its reputation has always been very high in the area for giving good quality care at an affordable price. Thousands of people have benefited for three decades. I and my team intend that our Vision and Mission Trust continues this tradition of service but we will also develop the hospital in many ways.
We are establishing a 24 hour Casualty and Trauma Centre, enhancing the Intensive Care facilities and building a Blood Bank, so the whole District will benefit. We have many other plans to provide a wide range of state of the art facilities for the people of the area.
Thank you for your trust and faith in us.”

Dr P
Dr Pandian visits a patient on a ward with Sylvia

Hear The World Foundation: latest report
HWF reports: “For the last three years, the Hear the World Foundation has supported the Rangammal Memorial School, Sylvia Wright’s residential school housing around 200 pupils with hearing loss. The children at this school are provided with audiological care and learn to express themselves verbally thanks to speech therapy. The school aims to both educate the children and also to prepare them for an independent life.”
To read a full report with photos please click on the following link:

”One day I become a teacher” – the destiny of Guru
Just like his father and cousins, six-year-old Gurumoorthy, also called Guru, has congenital hearing loss. Although his hearing impairment was diagnosed when he was two years old, his parents could not afford hearing aids. He received his first hearing aids only when he joined the Rangammal School at age four. Since then, he has been making excellent progress with his speech and is the best pupil in his class. Gurumoorthy is visibly happy at school, even though he only sees his parents once a month, as – they live more than 30 kilometers away. However, his older cousins, who also attend the Rangammal Memorial School for the Hearing Impaired, comfort him when he feels homesick. Gurumoorthy likes the call of the crows in the morning outside his window, and his favorite activity is playing cricket with his best friend, Tanmuri, and the other boys at school. His favorite subject is environmental science. One day he wants to become a teacher. It may be destiny, rather than just a coincidence, that his name shortens to “Guru,” which means teacher.

Guru with Crystal Variava, Sonova Audiologist in India.

Crystal says in her report: “The school is a magical place where children who had hardly any prospects in life are given all kinds of opportunities.


April 2017

A personal letter from Sylvia about the Hospital

Dear Friends,

As you know, I came to India on January 6th 1982.  For three years I worked in the villages from 8.00 am to midnight, giving basic health care and education to the villagers. Many of the staff I recruited are still with me.  We worked hard easing pain and saving lives.

In those days, in rural India, health services were very sparse and patients often had to travel many miles to get trained health care or rely on untrained village health workers.

Thanks to the Trust and your kindness, we opened our first hospital in 1985 which grew to 150 beds. These were always full and we also dealt with up to 8,000 out-patients each month. Our high quality health care was always given at minimal cost and, for those unable to pay, free of charge - thanks to your generous support.

Over these thirty five years, India has changed a good deal and, in Tamil Nadu especially, health care provision has improved.

In 2015 a Government Medical College Hospital was opened in Tiruvannamalai, providing an extensive range of free medical services including facilities for In-patient care (about 750 beds) with ready access to various specialties and equipment. This has been a great boon to the poorer people.

Health care is of course expensive, even in India; medical advances and increasing life expectancy create new needs and rising costs. It has become increasingly difficult and indeed unnecessary for me to continue my original medical mission.

Therefore, with much heart searching to know God’s will, I have decided to hand over Rangammal Hospital to a consortium of Indian doctors. They will invest a great deal of money to develop services on a more commercial basis but they will still  retain an element of charitable work as well as continuing to employ my faithful staff.

Our other services to the deaf and to physically and mentally challenged children will continue and improve even further; the needs are still great and the Government provision is still very basic.  These services are given entirely free and still rely on your generosity. 

Nurse training will also continue and expand in our College. The students’ practical experience will still be provided in both Rangammal Hospital and the new Medical College Hospital.

As you can well imagine, my decision to change the emphasis of my work has not been easy, but my priority, as always, is to meet the most important needs.

Please pray for us.  It is not always easy to know God’s will and it often takes a great deal of personal soul searching to follow where he leads; sometimes there are tears and we may not get it right!  However we all have to put our hands into the hands of God and (as St. Peter was told) be led where he wants us to go!

God bless you all.

Children prepared for new Education & Therapy Centre

In March, Lee Morgan and Sylvia decided to focus on health, nutrition and hygiene before the disabled children started at their new Education and Therapy Centre.
Tamil Selvi (Principal of the Nursing College) was also involved in establishing a nutrition programme for them.
Sylvia arranged for paediatricians from CMC Vellore to visit and set up a medical camp to screen all the children using the Nursing College facilities. The specialist paediatricians came with 10 of their own medical students so that all the children were examined individually.
It was a very busy and successful event with teachers and parents also present.
Our photo shows one of the children being examined.

Our photo shows some of the children enjoying their new Centre.

Email from a supporter in the Blue Mountains, Australia

“In 1983 in Southern India I met this extraordinary woman, Sylvia Wright. I asked her if I could accompany her on her rounds with her mobile health clinic (it was very basic, just a van with a few supplies). That day was more of an eye-opener (if I needed one in India!) than all the temples I had visited. We set up the clinic in a field where the 'untouchables' and extremely poor workers could access the facility. There was a doctor in training from the States, Sylvia and myself and several assistants. It was a very long day and Sylvia saw dozens of patients. I remember one 8 or 9 year old boy carried by a relative because his legs didn't work. He wanted her to make the boy better and get his legs working again, she explained as gently as she could that the boy had had polio and his legs would never work again. It was heart-breaking. 
Another patient was a child carried by her grandfather, she was bloated and listless and weighed about 3 kilos, she was 2 years old and dying of starvation. The mother had rejected her and she had been fed rice water by the grandfather, there is no protein in rice water. He was crying as he listened to what Sylvia had to say.
When I returned to England, I made a contract to donate to Sylvia for 5 years to help her with her work. Then I forgot about it .
So I wondered what had happened to Sylvia who had this dream of building a hospital and of educating the women about their bodies and nutrition. Could one woman from Leeds in England do this? I am so happy to see that not only has she managed to build a hospital but also a school for nurses and so much more.

Kind Regards,
Carole Hampshire (in NSW Australia)”

Footnote: Carole put this account on her private facebook page and also included a link to the Sylvia Wright Trust website. She is planning to have a garage sale at her home in Australia and will donate the proceeds to the Sylvia Wright Trust. What a great idea.
Many thanks Carole for getting in touch and for your continuing support!


March 2017

The Education & Therapy Centre opened on 15th March and the children and staff moved in on the 16th. They are all delighted. The building itself is complete and offers wonderful facilities. Some work remains in respect of furniture, equipment and landscaping. This will be completed prior to the more formal opening in the Autumn when the weather has cooled. Updates and photos from India are awaited.

Tony Allinson says: “The Centre will continue its remarkable and humbling service, looking after up to 100 children and will offer more advanced therapies plus some outpatient and outreach services. Some additional staff will be required and Marian Emley has recruited a number of volunteer UK therapists to mentor and develop them over the coming months. There is still virtually no other provision for these disabled children in the district; Sylvia and the Trustees believe that the need will continue for the foreseeable future and we therefore embrace the switch in priorities from the hospital to the new Centre.”

Sylvia’s visit in July

Sylvia will be visiting the UK in the second half of July. We are hoping to arrange a supporters’ get together, offering a chance to talk to Sylvia more personally and hear her views on the future. During her visit, Sylvia will also have a number of slots (between July 15th and 30th) where she can visit and speak. If you would like to invite her to your neck of the woods, please contact our secretary, John Howley, who is looking after her schedule. Tel 0113 2673936


Our Action Group – SWAG - continues to give Sylvia practical support and we are fortunate to have so many loyal supporters and help from churches, schools and other groups. Several new volunteers are joining SWAG and more are always welcome. This friendly group meets in Leeds three times a year and is a great resource for many of the tasks which keep the Trust running smoothly. Please contact Tony Hartigan (tel: 01943 851431) for details of our next meeting on 25 April at 12.30 for 1.00pm.

Chairman’s Easter Newsletter

Tony Allinson’s Easter Newsletter with all the latest news is being sent out to supporters at the beginning of April. It can also be read online by clicking here.


February 2017

Thanks Vibha!

Vibha Mistry (volunteer audiologist) visited Rangammal School for 2 weeks in February. She carried out a very thorough, professional assessment and left behind a very helpful report with recommendations for the school staff to implement.
Vibha wrote: “I have had an amazing time here at Rangammal School - I can’t believe how quickly these past 2 weeks have flown by. I hope the teachers and students have found my visit useful.”
Dianne Ward, our Hearing Aid Project co-ordinator, replied:
“I am truly amazed by how much you have achieved in such a short time. Having professionals like yourself visit the school is a huge boost to the project and gives the teachers confidence as well as improved skills. The benefit to the children is enormous.”

Global Handwashing Day
The latest edition of the Rangammal School magazine has now reached us. It is full of the usual colourful reports of a wide variety of activities.
You can download and read the magazine by clicking here.
One article in the magazine is about the school’s responses to Global Handwashing Day – an interesting and important insight:

In October, ‘Hand Washing Day’ was observed in India and enthusiastically celebrated by our children in Rangammal School.
This is an attempt by the Government to create awareness and reduce the incidence of gastro-intestinal diseases. The majority of Indians especially in the rural areas still eat by hand. Cutlery is rarely used. If the hands are carefully washed prior to eating, there is little danger of infection. However, in many areas, water is scarce, especially in Tamil Nadu where the monsoon failed and we have to buy water, as the wells are very low. In these circumstances, standards of hygiene reduce. “Why ‘waste’ precious water?” is the attitude.
Although the above circumstances do not occur in the school where standards of hygiene are rigorously taught and observed, in their villages it is not always so. In the past, many children developed gastro-intestinal diseases and skin diseases and scabies when they went home for the holidays.
However, the parents often tell us that the children will remind them to wash their hands before they eat and ask to take a daily bath during the holidays! We also re-enforced the importance of rubbish disposal and the use of bins for various types of waste. We also explained about the use of plastics and its detrimental effect on the environment and wild life especially sea dwelling species. We showed a picture of a beach in the North of India clogged with plastic waste. Our compound has never looked so clean!


Education & Therapy Centre article in Universe
The Catholic Universe newspaper published a feature article about Sylvia’s new Education & Therapy Centre in the February/March edition of its Education Magazine (free with the newspaper). It is distributed to: 70,000 print readers, 80,000 social media contacts, 300,000 global website contacts as well as every UK Catholic parish and school. The Catholic Universe is the largest selling Catholic newspaper for Great Britain and Ireland.
See: http://www.thecatholicuniverse.com/
We are most grateful to the Editor of The Universe for his newspaper’s continuing support for Sylvia’s work in India and for permission to reproduce the article.
To read the article please click here.

Education & Therapy Centre

This new architect-designed centre has now replaced the two former temporary centres for severely disabled children. It accommodates 100 children. Building work started on 21 January 2016, Sylvia’s 78th birthday, and was completed in March 2017. This dream has now become a reality although we still require more specialist staff, furniture and equipment. The Official Opening took place in November 2017.

Planning and fund-raising have been led by Lee Morgan, an osteopath from San Francisco, who made a video a few years ago setting out the need and vision for the future.
Please spare a few minutes to watch this moving film entitled:


Video on YouTube: enter - Sylvia Wright Ray of Hope -    or CLICK HERE


High level view of new centre



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ January 2017

Barbara Neale

It is with deep sadness that we report that Barbara Neale passed away peacefully in St Gemma’s Hospice on 21 January. Barbara had been unwell for some time but continued as an active member of SWAG and a dedicated trustee. A highly respected and much loved teacher and former Deputy Head at Mount St Mary’s High School (previously St Mary’s College), Barbara will be sadly missed by her many friends, former colleagues and pupils, fellow members of St Andrew’s United Reformed Church and, of course, Sylvia Wright trustees and supporters.

Barbara’s funeral service will take place at 1.00 pm on Friday 17 February at St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Shaftesbury Avenue, Roundhay, Leeds LS8 1DS
May she rest in peace.


Our photo above shows Barbara (second from left) in 2014 with a cheque raised by the St Andrew’s URC in its annual appeal for some of the world’s poorest people. Over £15,500, including Gift Aid, was raised by the St Andrew’s community in Leeds. The money was divided equally between KOST – the Kenyan Orphan Sponsorship Trust, the Sylvia Wright Trust and the United Reformed Church’s Own charity, Commitment for Life.

‘Ranvir cannot hear’


Genevieve Yusuf, the sister of Anna Biggins, one of the HWF audiologists who visited Rangammal School in February 2016, told us she was writing a children's book and that some of profits would go to the SWT Hearing Aid Project. It has finally come off and the book is now available on Amazon.
Amazon says: ‘Ranvir Cannot Hear’ is a magical story set in the plains of India and is about a little elephant who goes on a long journey in search of his hearing. On his travels he meets some wonderful friends along the way who can’t do certain things but tell him about the things that they can! Ranvir even finds out he has a special talent too... This is a beautifully illustrated children’s story with a message of inclusion and empowerment. Learn to find out what you can do and don’t worry about what you can’t. 10p of every book will be donated to the Rangammal School in India for children with a hearing impairment. Recommended for children up to 7 years old.”
For purchasing details click on link here:

Tom Kelly
As reported in our Christmas Newsletter, Tom Kelly cycled 35 miles, visited 21 churches and “attended three weddings” across North Shropshire to raise the sum of £2,722 for SWT. We can now report that Tom was included in the New Year’s Honour list with an MBE in recognition of his charity rides all over the world in the last 26 years. See news cutting below:


Happy Birthday, Madam
Among the greetings Sylvia received on her 79th birthday on 21 January was a card from the staff and students of Rangammal School (see below) as well as the following tribute :
On your big day, I as Headmaster and the staff would like to say working with you has been such a pleasure…..  You are a great leader and worthy of respect and admiration. We are very grateful because working with you as our Managing Director has helped us to learn honesty and hard work…. You are always committed to the service of our children and always willing to work hard to improve our school…. You are truly a leader and achieve success in everything you propose.

Love from
Headmaster, School Staff and Students. RMSD”


Student nurses and pupils praying for Sylvia

Baildon Churches Together

The CtiB church unity service in Baildon Methodist Church on 15 January included a talk about Sylvia Wright as the churches have nominated the Trust as their charity for 2017.
Continuing with the celebration of Christian Unity, shared lunches will take place the following week with donations from the lunches going towards the Sylvia Wright Trust. The lunches will take place from 12noon - 1pm in the following Baildon Church Halls:
Monday 16th January St Aidan’s RC Church
Tuesday 17th January Methodist Church
Wednesday 18th January Moravian Church
Thursday 19th January St John’s CofE Church
Everybody is welcome.

December 2016

Sylvia’s Christmas Message
“As you can see the work in India is going from strength to strength. I am deeply grateful to all the talented and dedicated people who are now regularly visiting our Centre and sharing their expertise – motivating existing Indian staff to develop their skills and to realize the deep joy that can come from serving others – Even if on the surface it can seem nothing but ‘hard work’!
As you know India is going through a period of accelerated change but, as is usual in these scenarios, the weaker are often left behind.
Only about 1% of the total budgeted income is spent on health care nationally. However, Tamil Nadu is an exception and health facilities are improving for the poorer section.
As priorities change, we have to be willing and able to respond as we are only here ‘to do His will’ – which as I say, in my case, seems to be a great deal more hard work!
Happy Christmas
Love Sylvia “

merry xmas

Deaf Children at Rangammal School performing in their Nativity play
on 22 December 2016.

Christmas 2016 Newsletter now published
Please click here to read the Newsletter.
Please let Tony Hartigan know if you would like to be included on our mailing list for future editions.
He would also welcome any news items from supporters and photos.
Tel: 01943 851431 email: newsletter@sylviawright.org

Chairman’s Annual Report 2016
Please click here to read the report.

Deaf Children make great progress
Please click here to see and hear a wonderful, heart-warming video made by the volunteers from The Hear the World Foundation when they visited Rangammal School in October 2016.


November 2016

Preparing for Integral Education & Therapy
Marian Emly and Jenny Loan Clark, highly experienced NHS professionals in the treatment of childhood disability, visited Tiruvannamalai in November to do an assessment of disabled children and to offer additional guidance on enhanced therapies. They visited the children’s homes and involved the parents in order to understand each child’s needs. Lee Morgan is working on the programme that the children will follow when they come to the new Centre.
1Our photo shows (from left) Marion, Lee Morgan and Jenny visiting one of the families in a local village.
We are most grateful to Lee, Marian and Jenny for sharing their expertise so generously.

Jessica helps deaf children to speak.
Jessica Lofthouse, a UK Speech and Language Therapist, volunteered to visit the school for two weeks. She assessed the speech of new pupils before they received new hearing aids. This allows teachers to tailor speech therapy to individuals’ needs and also to monitor progress accurately.


Our photo shows Jessica assessing the speech of a pupil.
We are most grateful for Jessica’s professional input which is making a big difference to these children’s present and future lives.


October 2016

schoolSt Mary’s Year 10 present cheque

When they were in at the end of Year 8, students at St Mary’s Menston decided to raise money for Rangammal School and, in particular, for hearing aids for the deaf pupils there. They also committed themselves to continuing this fund-raising for the rest of the years they would be at the school. They formed a committee and galvanised their fellow students to raise £517. 27 in Years 8 & 9. This cheque was presented to Tony Hartigan who received it on behalf of the Sylvia Wright Trust on 20 October at a Year 10 Assembly.
Congratulations to all the students for this wonderful effort! Thanks also to Mrs Sally Carmichael (Student Progress Leader Year 10) and Mrs Julia Findlay (lay Chaplain).
Sylvia, accompanied by Cllr Mary Vickers, had visited the St Mary’s to thank the students personally in July of this year. See news item and photo for July 2016 below.
This photo shows some of the students with Mrs Carmichael and Tony Hartigan immediately after the presentation.

The Rt Rev David Konstant

It is with great sadness that we heard of the death of the Right Reverend David Konstant, Emeritus Bishop of Leeds.
Bishop Konstant, Bishop of Leeds from 1985 to 2004, died peacefully in the evening of Sunday 9 October 2016. He was 86.
The Requiem Mass was held in Leeds Cathedral on Tuesday 18 October.

Bishop David, a great supporter and friend of Sylvia, delivered an eloquent and memorable Reflection at a Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving for Sylvia’s 30 years in India in Leeds Cathedral on Sunday 22 April 2012.


He had visited Sylvia in Tiruvannamalai in 1997; this was mentioned in The Times obituary which can be read here:

The Times reported a famous incident:
“ (Bishop) Konstant was an enthusiastic supporter of Catholic overseas aid projects. After visiting a scheme for deaf children in Chennai (sic) in 1997 he was being driven through India’s Tamil Nadu region. They were making regal progress when a lorry driver behind got so frustrated at their slowness that he ran the car off the road. (Bishop) Konstant’s driver — a devout Indian Catholic — was so incensed at the treatment of the bishop that he started to chase the lorry, even going off-road and bumping along rice fields to catch up.”

Sylvia enjoyed her meetings with Bishop David. She last visited him in his Headingley home in July this year.

May he rest in peace.


September 2016

New hearing aids
New hearing aids have now been delivered and will be fitted by HWF volunteers in October

Water Purification
Work on the water system is now under way for the School and Nursing College. This is being funded by a Singapore donor.

Lee Morgan on site
Lee Morgan, the osteopath from San Francisco who has been leading the fund-raising and planning of the Education & Therapy Centre has arrived in Tiruvannamalai and is working hard to ensure the design is being followed in the construction process and that internal fixtures and fittings are as required.

Christmas Cards
The cards are now selling well. Please go to our Christmas Cards page for details and an order form. Click here


August 2016

Sylvia returns to India
Sylvia is now back in Tiruvannamalai and is fit and well. Apart from her normal busy routines in the hospital, school and nursing college, there is much work to oversee and develop with the new Education and Therapy Centre as the building work progresses. See our home page for the latest updates and photos.
While she was in the UK, Sylvia was able to visit and meet a number of supporters, new and old as well as enjoying a holiday with friends.

Sylvia enjoying a summer evening in Yorkshire

Our photo above shows her with Clive Leach CBE, Chairman of the Universe Media Group. The Catholic Universe recently published a full page feature on Sylvia which can be found by clicking the link on our homepage or click here.

Christmas Cards
Samples and order forms for our 2016 Christmas Cards will be sent to supporters in early September. For a preview of the cards and also a copy of the order form please visit our Christmas Cards page or click here

Out of her comfort zone
Niamh Niamh with one of the deaf children.
Niamh Connor has written a most interesting report of her recent visit to Tiruvannamalai.
“Many people say that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. For me, travelling 4,500 miles to a whole new culture and environment was definitely out of my comfort zone. After recently completing a year abroad in Germany, the prospect of sitting at home waiting for university to restart after a whirlwind busy year was something I was desperate to avoid.”
To read Niamh’s full account (“ My Indian Adventure”) please click here


July 2016

Sylvia’s Summer Visit
Sylvia is fit and well and had a busy time in the first week of her recent visit to Leeds.
Dianne Ward accompanied her to St Urban's Primary School and Tony Allinson took her to St Johns Roundhay Primary School. Both schools are great supporters.
She attended various meetings with Trustees and prospective visitors to Tiruvannamalai as well as a joint gathering of Trustees and the Sylvia Wright Action Group (SWAG). Sylvia said how impressed and grateful she was to learn about all that is being done in the UK to support her continuing work in Tiruvannamalai.
Those of us who were present all felt privileged to hear first-hand about all she is doing now and the challenges that lie ahead.

Two Bishops
Sylvia also managed to meet not one but two bishops separately on the same morning. She appreciated a first private meeting with the Rt Reverend Marcus Stock, the Tenth Bishop of Leeds and also enjoyed renewing her long acquaintance with the Rt. Reverend David Konstant, Former Bishop of Leeds who retired in 2004. Bishop David has visited Sylvia in Tiruvannamalai.

Year 8 raise funds for hearing aids
Tony Hartigan and Mary Vickers accompanied her to St Mary’s School in Menston where she spoke to an enthusiastic group of students representing Year 8 who have raised money to buy hearing aids for Sylvia’s deaf pupils.


Sylvia with Mary Vickers answering questions from St Mary’s Menston students.

St Margaret Clitherow Parish, Haxby
Tony Allison took Sylvia on a return visit to the welcoming community of St Margaret Clitherow in Haxby, near York. Margaret Sigson wrote afterwards:
“Thank you for coming to speak to us last week and for bringing Sylvia. You really did give us an excellent overview and update on the Trust's work and the development of the facilities and Sylvia's responses to questions were detailed and encouraging.  
I hope that Sylvia will be refreshed after her holiday. We do feel very honoured that she is willing to come and talk to us because I know we aren't big fundraisers but there were at least three people there at the meeting who hadn't been there before. We are in awe of how she puts the Gospel into practice; she is a huge example to us and a lovely and interesting person to listen to.”

After a much needed and well deserved holiday with friends, Sylvia will return to India on 16 August.

Sir David Goodall GCMG
We were saddened to hear of the death on 22 July of Sir David Goodall, a long-standing Patron of the Trust. Sylvia has recalled the help Sir David gave her during some very difficult and trying years. She has always been most grateful for this help, given at a time when she had no one else to turn to.
Tony Allinson has written to Lady Goodall expressing our sympathy. We in the Trust have been grateful for Sir David’s patronage over so many years and were uplifted when reading of his many contributions to public life, outlined in his obituary in the newspaper. Please click on this link to read the obituary:
Click Here

2016 Christmas Cards
Our new Christmas Cards are due to arrive from the printers on 16 August. They will be available for sale in September. Full details including the 2 front covers used in this year’s designs will be posted on our Christmas card page at the end of August. Click here for the current page:

………..and Christmas Puds! We are delighted to inform you that Dianne Ward is once again preparing to sell the famous (and delicious) Sylvia Wright Christmas Puddings in support of the Hearing Aid Project. Further details will be announced in September. Order early for Christmas!

pud Sylvia Wright Christmas Pudding

Would you like to join us?
The Trust is in good heart, has some very hardworking officers and enthusiastic volunteers.
We have trustees/officers in place to deal with Finance, Gift aid, Talks, Sponsorship, Schools, Mailing, Christmas Cards, PR and website, Newsletters, Visitors etc. However, we would like to ensure all officers have a deputy to share the tasks, develop ideas and give cover for emergencies. If you think you can help in any of the above or in any other ways, please get in touch with Tony Allinson (Chairman) on 0113 2675735 or swtchair@outlook.com to explore possibilities – without any obligation.
He would be more than happy to discuss details and opportunities with you and supply any information you require.
We also have a lively, friendly and energetic Support Group (SWAG).
SWAG meets informally, three times a year, to share information and ideas and is given regular and detailed briefings on Trust activities in both the UK and India. Valuable work is done outside the meetings and paper work is minimal.
If interested, please contact Tony Hartigan on 01943 851431 or swtpublicity@outlook.com


June 2016

To read the feature article
“Sylvia offers a ray of hope for India’s disabled children”
published in the Catholic Universe on 20 May 2016 please click here

Latest Magazine from Rangammal School

The Spring 2016 edition of Rangammal School Magazine has now been sent to supporters for whom we have email addresses.
It is, as usual, packed with colour and information and gives a great insight into the school, the children and the local community.
One article gives an excellent report of Sylvia’s birthday celebrations and in particular mentions a past student named Geethamal, who “now having an impressive government job, donated the first month of her salary, 25,000 rupees, to Madam and the school in sincere appreciation of everything our Madam and the school had offered her.”
Please click here to read this and many other fascinating reports as well as all the accompanying photos.

Summer Newsletter

The summer edition of our own newsletter was sent to supporters in the week beginning 27 June. That was deliberately a few days after the EU Referendum on 23 June in the hope that it would not be discarded along with unwanted referendum material! It also includes our very first Situations Vacant column. Please click here to read or download the newsletter.

Situations Vacant
Thanks to all our energetic and unpaid volunteers who fund their own personal expenses, the Trust continues to send more than 97 pence out of every pound raised to Sylvia - a remarkable record which is appreciated by
supporters who are confident that their donations go to the point of need and not into ‘expenses’ or ‘admin’. However, more volunteers are always welcome!
• We are forming an SWT Advisory Group of supporters with professional experience of disability to advise and mentor Sylvia’s staff -
In particular: physiotherapists, osteopaths, hydrotherapists, teachers of the deaf, speech therapists and those with related skills are encouraged
to get in touch with Tony Allinson to discuss their possible involvement.
• We are also looking for a Christmas Card Organiser from 2017 to lead a team of existing volunteers.
Please contact Tony Allinson for more details.


May 2016

Dennis Macaulay

It is with sadness that we report that Dennis Macaulay passed away on 24 May. Dennis was a founder member of the Trust, a most active and energetic Trustee and our first Treasurer. He steered the Trust during its early and often difficult years and laid the foundations for many more years of growth and success. He and his wife Frances were great friends of Sylvia and gave her every encouragement in both prayer and practical support. May they both rest in peace.

George Osborne sends cheque to SWT

Thanks to all supporters who gift aid their donations, we have just received £22,803.13 from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs. Gift aid forms can be downloaded from our Donations page or by contacting our treasurer Mr G Fuller at 8 Finkle Close, Woolley, Wakefield, WF4 2LU or via email: swttreasurer@outlook.com
Thanks to SWAG member Sue Wilson for all her work on claiming the gift aid for SWT.

Universe gives full page to Sylvia

The Catholic Universe published a full page feature on Sylvia’s work in its 20 May edition. The Catholic Universe is the largest selling Catholic newspaper for Great Britain and Ireland.

We are most grateful to the Assistant Editor, Michael Winterbottom, for giving us permission to reproduce this feature for the benefit of visitors to our website. Please click here to read the article.

Summertime……. and the music is easy

Thanks to Angela Good and the Engelfield Ensemble for donating the proceeds of their very enjoyable concert of Music for Summer by Gershwin, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Vaughan Williams and others to the Trust. The concert took place in St Nicholas’ Church in Taplow on Saturday 21 May.

Angela Good (right) with the Engelfield Ensemble.

Back to Tiruvannamalai

Former St Mary’s Menston students Niamh Lacy-Roberts, Laura Hickie and Agnieska Bucholc enjoyed their time in Tiruvannamalai so much last year that they are returning for eight more weeks in June this year. They will take with them toys, t-shirts and much sought–after hoodies as worn by St Mary’s Menston students on the Leeds Diocesan Lourdes pilgrimage. See photo.

More Lourdes T-Shirts


April 2016

“An abundance of unforgettable memories”

Mary Crotty, a gap girl from St Mary’s Menston, has just returned from an unforgettable visit to Tiruvannamalai and has sent a fascinating summary of her experiences while she was there from January until March. Her full report can be read on our Visitors to Tiruvannamalai page but here is the opening paragraph where she describes her first impressions:

“When Emma and I first arrived, it was the very early hours of the morning on Saturday the 23rd January, yet we were surprised to learn that the students would wake and begin their studies not many hours later. The students are extremely dedicated to their studies and to learning, especially the older students who are preparing for their 10th standard and +2 examinations. Such an impressive work ethic is something I have rarely come across in children and adults alike in England, yet here in Rangammal School, it seems like a natural instinct which I really admire. It is no surprise that the students do so well every year; I wish them all the best as they very much deserve the excellent marks they achieve.”

Mary was accompanied by Emma Nicholson and we look forward to receiving Emma’s personal account which will also be posted on our Visitors to Tiruvannamalai page. Please take a look. In the meantime, Mary is “currently inter-railing round Europe” so she has obviously got the taste for travel!

mary emma

Emma Nicholson and Mary Crotty with Mr Raja (Headteacher) and Sylvia in Rangammal School Library

Gordon Chantler and Derek Moore have ‘wonderful time’ in Tiruvannamalai

Gordon Chantler and Derek Moore were delighted to be shown round the school and the hospital on their recent visit as well as visiting the home of the child whom Gordon sponsors.

Our photo shows Gordon Chantler with his sponsored child and Sylvia in Rangammal School Library.


March 2016

Mr John Faulkner and Mrs Frances Macaulay

It is with sadness that we report that John Faulkner, former Trustee, Treasurer and Chairman passed away last month. John visited India several times with Margaret and worked tirelessly to develop the Trust and its links with his own church, St Andrews URC in Roundhay, Leeds. Some will remember especially his fund raising climb for Sylvia of Kilmanjaro to celebrate his 60th birthday.



Sadly also, Frances Macaulay has also passed away. Frances and her husband Dennis were founder members of the Trust and Dennis was a most active Trustee and Treasurer during its first twenty years and steered the Trust during its formation.
May they both rest in peace.

New trustee
Bernadette Barnes from Ripon has joined the Trust with a special interest in promoting our links with UK schools. She would be delighted to hear from anybody who would like to set up a link with their school.

Talks & Speakers
Our speakers have been busier than ever with 20 talks in 2015 and more are booked in 2016. More engagements to spread the word are always welcome. Please let Anne-Marie Rose know if you would like to book a (free) speaker. Tel: 0113 2685423

“Something truly amazing is going on at the Rangammal School!”
A team of Hear the World Foundation experts have been visiting Rangammal School in March. This is a brief extract from one of their reports:
“After this week I’ve come to see that something truly amazing is going on at the Rangammal School! It’s at each level, starting with Sylvia’s Vision…my conclusion is that every single person involved understands the purpose and that is being reflected in the children directly. They were excited when they heard about the great work and would like to highlight the school in the “Phonak Quarterly” if permission is granted…
…All I can say is that upon arriving and meeting the children, seeing the motivation of the teachers and the Audiology Suite set-up… something began to drive me.  As my focus is on “best-practices” in India, this was really a treat to see and it has motivated me to consistently look/analyze the sustainability of the school and the growth which I am confident that Phonak will work toward supporting.
It’s been such a great experience to work alongside the school and your efforts… I look forward to what is in store ahead. “  

Crystal A. Variava, Au.D. Director of Audiology & Education India

Download the Chairman’s (Easter) Letter to Supporters Click Here

February 2016

Rangammal School Website Launched
- A new milestone for Rangammal School

This is full of interesting articles including the history of the school right up to Sylvia’s recent 78th birthday celebrations on 21 January 2016. lllustrations and explanations about how the deaf children are taught and how much they appreciate our sponsorship scheme are among the many easily accessed features. There are also several videos well worth watching. Congratulations to Fr Saul and all the school staff who have contributed to this successful venture.
Just click on this link to go to the website: www.rmsdtvm.org.in

Sylvia celebrates her 78th birthday

Our photo shows Sylvia blowing out the candles (well some of them!) on the occasion of her 78th birthday on 21 January. For more details and photos see the school’s new website.

Education & Therapy Centre

The Foundation Stone of the new ETC was laid appropriately on 21 January, Sylvia’s birthday – see homepage for more details. The new centre is scheduled to be completed in October and we will be keeping supporters up to date with how the building work is progressing.

Mrs Kasthuri Retires

In October, Mrs. Kasthuri Bai, one of the pioneer teachers of Rangammal School retired. Mrs Kasthuri joined the school when it was founded in the year 1992. For 15 years she served as a teacher and in 2004, she became the Headmistress. Many well-wishers were invited to her leaving party. Her years of service will live in the memory of both teachers and students. The school will never forget her immense contribution in helping to create a unique educational environment for the students. The school community will always be grateful for her devoted service. More details can be found in the latest edition of the Rangammal School Magazine which can be viewed from our homepage.


January 2016

Danny runs for Sylvia

Our Lady and All Saints Church in Otley held a very well attended coffee morning on Sunday 17 January to present the Chairman of the Sylvia Wright Trust, Tony Allinson, with a cheque for £1301.30, raised by a 19 mile charity run completed by Danny Cooney in December. Funds were also raised through a raffle which was sponsored by local retailer, Sainsbury's.
Danny said: “What started out as a small personal fund-raising run ended up bringing everyone together and galvanizing the community. I can't thank people enough for their generosity and in particular anyone who helped out over the last few weeks. It was a great team effort and the money will be put to very good use by Sylvia in India."
In accepting the cheque, Tony Allinson said to Danny: “Your own run to Addingham and back and today’s lovely coffee morning have raised a great deal of money; this is a marvellous achievement and a credit to the continuing generosity of the Our Lady & All Saints community.”

Danny Cooney (left) with some parishioners and Greg Mulholland M.P. (3rd right) and Tony Allinson (2nd right) at the coffee morning on 17 January.

Local M.P. Greg Mulholland said in his weekly email to constituents:
"It was great to see all of Danny's hard work paying off with the presentation of a cheque for over £1300 to a very worthwhile cause in the form of The Sylvia Wright Trust. The funds raised will have a significant positive impact on the lives of some of the world's most vulnerable children and adults through the Trust's projects in Tamil Nadu, South India.”

Tom Cullinan visits the home of two deaf children

This photo below was taken in the simple, rural home of Monika and Kiruthiga which Tom Cullinan (a supporter from Oldham) visited on a recent trip to Tiruvannamalai.


From the left, Tom Cullinan, S.Deepika (9 years), S. Jayasri (3), S.Kiruthiga (16) and S.Monika (11) - all sisters. At the back are the children’s mother and father. The younger children can hear and do not therefore attend Sylvia’s School for Deaf Children .

Tom writes:

“Their father picked the two girls up from Rangammal School by motorbike to give them a special weekend at home.
Mr. Rajini (teacher and lay preacher) and I took a car to their home and received a great welcome. Their father kindly gave me the potatoes. Later, we returned to the school with the girls.”


November - December 2015

Sylvia is Guest of Honour at St Mary’s Menston.


Sylvia presented the prizes to students at St Mary’s Menston on their Year 11 Achievement Evening. Accompanied by Tony Hartigan, who was the Guest Speaker, Sylvia is shown in the photo (photo4) presenting one of the subject awards. She said how pleased she was to be able to do this at St Mary’s which is a great supporter of her work in India. Oliver Armitage and Amelia Walsh (year 12 Student Representatives) subsequently wrote:

“We would like to thank Madam Sylvia Wright for attending the evening and for kindly presenting the subject awards. Your attendance, along with Mr Hartigan’s complementary perspective, has inspired students, parents and members of staff to appreciate the circumstances in which they live and we hope we will all follow your work and replicate your actions as best we can. We at St Mary’s feel that you personify all our school values and you will continue to be an inspirational figure here.”

Trustees and Supporters visit Tiruvannamalai

Tony Allinson and six trustees and supporters spent 10 days in Tiruvannamalai in November. It proved to be an excellent and most productive visit from several perspectives. Anthony Allinson, Tony’s son, posted a personal, lively and colourful blog while he was there. There are also plenty of photos. The blog can be viewed at: tswtblog.wordpress.com
For other news about the visit from the visiting team please go to our Christmas newsletter (see below).

Elumalai has his own Christmas Card

Elumalai age 4, one of the deaf children at Sylvia’s school, was delighted to receive a copy of this year’s Sylvia Wright Trust Christmas Card which was presented to him by Tony Allinson on a recent visit.


Elumalai features on the back of the card with a photo of the moment when he heard his name spoken by a teacher for the first time in his life. Dianne Ward has supplied a copy of Elumulai's current spoken vocabulary. It lists 66 clearly spoken words since he was fitted with a new digital hearing aid last October(2014). It is doubtful that this would have been the case without his new digital hearing aid. Thanks for all the support for our Hearing Aid Project. To see Elumalai’s list of words please click here.

Christmas Newsletter now published

Please click here to read the Newsletter.

Please let Tony Hartigan know if you would like to be included on our mailing list for future editions.
Tel: 01943 851431 email: newsletter@sylviawright.org

Chairman’s Annual Report 2015

Please click here to read the report.


October 2015

The latest magazine from Rangammal School now available

Please click here to read the October edition of the Rangammal School Magazine. As usual its 14 pages are full of interest and colour. Included is a fascinating perspective of the recent visit of the 3 St Mary’s School 6th Formers (see September news just below). An extract from the magazine reports: “They taught middle school children a folk dance which the children learnt quickly and performed on the day they left the school. It was fantastic to watch it. The visitors had a good time tasting the spicy food. Though the weather was very hot, they took pleasure in it. A small fare well party was organized for them. Some of the children hung around them and did not want to let them go. They were overwhelmed by the love of the children. They left the school with great joy and many tears.”

Agnieska’s and Niamh’s Reports now on website
Agnieska’s and Niamh’s personal views of their visit please go to our Visitors to Tiruvannamalai page


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)



A Day in the Life
Life in an Indian village
A short video about life in a typical Indian village in the area where Sylvia works. Click here

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


Listen to Sylvia's inspiring interview on BBC Radio Leeds

Sylvia was interviewed in a live BBC Radio Leeds 'One on One' programme by Liz Green on 19 April 2012. During her interview Sylvia spoke of what led to her decision to go to India in 1982 and she reflected on her 30 years working in Tiruvannamalai. She also made personal choices of music which were played during the programme. A recording of this programme is available on CD. Please contact Tony Allinson or Tony Hartigan (see contact link at the top of this page) if you would like a free copy.

If your browsers has an MP3 player click here to listen to the interview
(it will take a few minute to open the page)


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


December 2010

The Sylvia Wright Story on DVD (now with subtitles) and Online

A DVD telling the story of Sylvia Wright was produced in 2010. This can now be viewed online at: http://vimeo.com/31688074 The DVD contains film of Sylvia's medical work, her Boarding School for 210 profoundly deaf children, her old Day Centres for disabled children and her Nursing College which can now take up to 120 students. Copies of the free DVD can be obtained from SWT DVD, 14 King's Road, Leeds LS16 9JN. Tel: 0113 2675735 or email chairman@sylviawright.org



The Hearing Aid Project

Contact Dianne Ward on 0113 2758260 or swthearing@outlook.com

One of two important goals for Hearing Aid project in 2014 was to provide the pupils at the Rangammal Memorial School for Hearing Impaired children with new digital hearing aids. The second was to ensure that the children were given continuous audiological care and that the teachers received regular training in how to ensure that the hearing aids were fitted and working properly.

Rangammal School hearing assessment
Click Here
to see the YouTube video showing the difference in performance between analogue and digital hearing aids.

Audiology Training in the school

Click Here to download a step by step guide illustrating how audiology works in the school.

Two audiologists from Hear the World Foundation volunteer programme visited the school in February 2016 for one week. Their objective was to improve the skills of the four teachers who were chosen to develop the audiology care at the school. They all worked very hard and covered the following topics:


Speech Training in class

Click Here to watch the video

Individual Speech Training

Click Here to watch the video


Hear India: Helping Children Hear the World

Click Here to link to the page



Our ears are like antennae picking up signals from different directions. The complex structures of the ear process these signals and pass them on to the brain, where they are interpreted. Therefore, for optimum hearing, it is best if both ears are fully functioning. But exactly what happens when sound waves enter the human ear?
Click here to watch the video

Hear the World Foundation website:
The Hear the World Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life and promoting equal opportunities for people with hearing loss globally. Click here to link to the website

Hear the World Foundation and partner the Sylvia Wright Trust
Click Here to find the page about our Sylvia Wright Trust cooperation with the HWF Foundation:|

Summary so far

Hearing Aid Project Update – March 2016

Thanks to the continuing generosity of supporters and active fund raising by some UK schools, the number of children with digital hearing aids at Rangammal School has now increased to 187.

The latest students to be fitted started school in June 2015. They had been very patient and understanding as they witnessed the differences the new hearing aids made to the younger children.
Students are always very excited by their "good fortune" and jump for joy when they are told the news.
See the photo below 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 great progress since he was fitted with digital hearing aids in October 2014. See the January 2015 news for details. 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!

On 21 February 2015, 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.

Contact: For further information please contact :Mrs Dianne Ward, Project Co-ordinator, tel 0113 2758260 or email:   swthearing@outlook.com

Thank you for your interest and support.