You deserve a pat on the back!

A little Lao girl expresses her joy at getting a jumper
A little Lao girl expresses her joy at getting a jumper

Leighton may be only a small place on the map, but it’s full of big-hearted, generous folk who’ve made a dramatic difference to the lives of the many disadvantaged people in the small east Asian country of Laos.

Heath and Reach WI members have knitted thousands of jumpers to keep them warm in winter and organisations such as Leighton Linslade Rotary Club have raised considerable amounts of cash to support students at a charity foundation chaired by retired Leighton businessman Peter Banwell, 64.

LEOT school at Luang Prabang

LEOT school at Luang Prabang

He said: “The town has been absolutely wonderful. It needs a pat on the back.”

The father-of-two fell in love with Laos when he and his late wife Catriona went on holiday there in 2008.

He recalled: “It burned a hole in our hearts not only because of its beauty, but also because of the gentle charm of its people, their warm welcome, humour and openness.”

He decided to go back to help and discovered a charity called LEOT – Lao Educational Opportunities Trust. Peter, of Heath Road, now spends several months a year managing its projects and building relationships with the government and community.

LEOT school students

LEOT school students

The school, started four years ago, will enrol 300 pupils in September with English and computer studies on the curriculum. The ultimate aim is to make it self sufficient.

If you’d like to help LEOT, call Peter on 07768 035474. He’s happy to give talks about its work and donations are always welcome, as well as student sponsorships.