Neal’s lasting legacy in Nepal

Published Monday, 05 November 2012
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The family of Neal Turkington, the Co Armagh soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2010, have journeyed to Nepal to see for themselves how a special trust set up in their loved's one memory has made a difference to schoolchildren there.

Neal’s lasting legacy in Nepal
Neal Turkington pictured at Nahr e Saraj base camp. (© Family photo)

Lieutenant Turkington, from Portadown, was one of three soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles killed just over two years ago when a renegade Afghan soldier launched a rocket-propelled grenade attack on their base.

Since his death, a trust called the Neal Turkington Nepal Project, or the NTNP, has been set up to fulfil the young man's dream.

The young man was passionate about education, and after attending teaching at a school in Nepal in 2008, he said he wanted to make a difference to the children of that country.

The focus of the NTNP is to support development projects in the south Asian country - and the first challenge was to construct a new classroom building in the overcrowded school in Thansing Village where Neal once taught.

Earlier this year, Neal's father Ivor and his family visited the school to see its transformation.

A proud Ivor recalled: "We had the most wonderful greeting from not just the school -but the village and the village elders and they expressed so much gratitude.

"That gave us a tremendous sense of feeling that Neal's ambitions were being fulfilled."

Many of the children, who live in mountain villages in the region, have to walk for hours every day to get to school.

Ivor continued: "I don't know how many children will go through that school in the rest of my lifetime but they will have a better pathway to education and prosperity."

Speaking on his son's death, Ivor told UTV: "Unless you have been through it, it would be very, very difficult to explain.

"There is a time of numbness, there is a time of heightened feeling of desperate loss, what could have been, what might have been."

But right now, the thoughts of the Turkingtons will be with the family of Channing Day, the Co Down medic killed while on patrol in Helmand Province last month.

A memorial service for the 25-year-old was held in her home town of Comber on Saturday morning.

Cpl Day's funeral is expected later in the week.

"They will be very, very dark days and it will be a mixture of numbness and unbearable pain," Ivor said.

"But the one thing that the people of Comber are like the people of Portadown, they will get all the support that they will ever need to get them through this terrible, terrible period."
© UTV News
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