Sidmouth woman to help improve education in Nepal after being inspired by 79-year-old fundraiser

Kati FitzHenry will be joining Liz Rutter and her granddaughter Izzy for a trip to Nepal next month.

Kati FitzHenry will be joining Liz Rutter and her granddaughter Izzy for a trip to Nepal next month. - Credit: Archant

A yoga instructor from Sidmouth is swapping the town’s hills for the mountains of Nepal to assist in a project improving the country’s education system.

Kati FitzHenry will spend a month in the country after being inspired by the work of 79-year-old Liz Rutter, who has spent three decades fundraising to improve school facilities.

After meeting on a group walk on Dartmoor, Kati now runs charity yoga classes in aid of Liz’s project to build a second pre-school.

They will both travel with Liz’s granddaughter, Izzy MacFarlane, 17, for the opening ceremony of the school next month.

Kati, 47, of Malvern Road, said: “We share the passion for learning and bringing the best out of people. I have got a set of experiences, Liz has one and Izzy will have set of a skills and passions. It’s great to have this chance to spend some time in the community and see their way of life.”

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Liz, a retired Latin and Greek teacher, began a partnership with Leweston girls’ school in Dorset and the Jana Jyoti school 30 years ago to improve its facilities.

She worked with headteacher Ganga Ghale and his successor Bil Gurung to transform the school into a ‘beacon’ of learning for children aged six to 16.

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Liz, who lives near Chardstock, said: “The idea was to let them [the students] see a third world country and let them mix with people on a day-to-day basis and see the conditions of the schools.

“When we found the school in 1987, it was collapsing - the tin roof was flapping in the wind. There were no windows and doors, but there was an immense keenness for education.”

Liz has raised thousands of pounds to provide new buildings and facilities and organised for volunteers to spend four months out at the school teaching English.

She has also helped to set a scholarship for 50 pupils, which helps to finance some of the students’ uniform, books and school fees.

The fundraiser is now turning to work on building more pre-schools to accommodate the growing number of four- to six-year-olds.

She added: “It’s not first world helping third world, it’s a partnership. It feels exhilarating to be a part of it 30 years later, because they have not lost their identity, they are very proud of their heritage.”

The trio will leave for Nepal on February 14.

For more information, contact Kati by emailing

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