Doug Scott received the £24,789 cheque watched by Sir Chris Bonington

Doug Scott received the £24,789 cheque watched by Sir Chris Bonington

Britain’s first Everest summiteer has pledged a massive donation to the effort to rebuild Nepal after this year’s earthquakes will be spent properly.

Doug Scott who, along with Dougal Haston, was the first Briton to successfully climb the world’s highest mountain, collected a cheque for almost £25,000 at the Kendal Mountain Festival on Saturday.

The money, for Scott’s Community Action Nepal, was presented by the British Mountaineering Council’s president Rehan Siddiqui. The cash was raised by an online auction of mountaineering goodies organised by the council and the Alpine Club.

The 74-year-old collected the cheque accompanied by fellow mountaineering luminary Sir Chris Bonington.

Doug Scott said: “This means a lot. The BMC and the Alpine Club got together to auction off lots of good prizes. A lot of work was put in by Anna Lawford of the Alpine Club. Without Tina [Gardner] of the BMC and Anna, I don’t think we would have done anything like this much. They really got the word out.”

He said the sum donated would probably enable the charity to build a health post in the Nepal countryside. CAN operates in areas far from the country’s road system.

The earthquakes in April and May this year devastated many rural villages, including those where CAN had built schools and medical posts.

Doug Scott said: “It’s pretty bad out there. It’s quite depressing when you go out there and see how they’re making do, especially very old people who might not have an extended family support system. That’s pretty tragic, because they’ve lost their home; no-one else is there to help them.

“The thing is with Nepal, because the government is pretty dire, or non-existent in the country areas, they continue to look after themselves; they’re self-reliant and resourceful.

“We build schools, porter rescue shelters and community buildings.

“Most of our places were hit in the earthquakes. North of Kathmandu and all around the frontier with Tibet, it was terrible. In Melamchi Gaun, where we’d really gone to town, put in a school for 400, put in two hostels for girls and boys, put in a health post, all 135 houses are flattened.

“All you see are these sort of tents of corrugated iron, all on the ground; all the walls are rubble. Every single thing was flattened.

“We did put in about £100,000 for some temporary learning shelters so that all through the monsoon where we operate, the schools have had the kids accommodated and prepared and being taught, so they’re dry. But now it’s the winter so we’re going out on Thursday, a whole gang of us, with structural engineers to start things off to make sure they don’t cut corners.

“So we’ve got to monitor things much better, to rebuild better.”

The complex nature of the earthquake with side-to-side tremors as well as vertical ones, meant many buildings collapsed. It will cost more to build to a better standard, he said. Whereas previously the health posts could be constructed for £16,000, it will now take about £25,000.

He added: “Rest assured that we’ll make sure this £25,000 will go to where it’s meant to be going. We have all the checks and balances in place to make sure there’s no fiddling. We’ve been at it now for 20-odd years, so it won’t go astray.”

More details, along with how to donate to CAN’s continuing work, are on the Community Action Nepal website.

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