Auction of Cricket gear to help orphans

The plight of a school for handicapped boys as highlighted by a Bath charity has moved the England cricket captain to offer his support. The Neem Tree Trust has raised thousands of pounds for boys disabled by Polio in India.

For founder Kathy Miller, a former IT teacher from Bradford on Avon, it has become a full-time job.

The charity has built up such a profile it recently attracted the attention of Michael Vaughan, who is leading England’s efforts to beat the West Indies.

Mrs Miller, lent one of her many videos with footage of the boys’ home in south India to her friend Jeremy Surr.

It transpired he was friends with Mr Vaughan’s parents.

Mrs Miller said: “They showed the video to him and one of the images is of the boys playing cricket.

“They’ve got very limited resources, so they decided to get some cricket equipment together and Michael has signed it all.

“Michael saw a picture of the boys at the home and was really moved by it and how well they were playing despite their disabilities.”

The Neem Tree Trust was officially set up as a registered charity last year but originated in 1999 after Mrs Miller visited India with the organisation Teaching And Projects Abroad.

“I found myself at the boys home, and was so moved when I got there that I’ve been fund-raising ever since. I go back there every year,” said Mrs Miller, of Avoncliff.

The charity, run by Mrs Miller, her husband Ken and two other trustees, has so far raised more than £20,000 for the home in the state of Tamil Nadu.

As well as taking time out of his busy schedule to sign the cricket equipment, Mr Vaughan has donated a limited edition print of himself which the charity hopes to auction.

There are 80 boys at the home, some orphans, who are provided with an education that they would otherwise not get.

“The families of these boys are very poor and they can’t afford to look after the children and certainly not send them to school,” said Mrs Miller.

“So the doctor, who is disabled himself, takes them in.

“He makes sure they have got an education and they’ve learnt a trade, so that they can go back to their village when they reach 19.”

The trust is also fund- raising for a vehicle for the home to help transport the boys to and from school.

The doctor running the home wants to open up the home to other children from the village to help provide them with a brighter future.

The charity has the support of local businesses such as Bradford on Avon’s John Durrant Videos, which edits all of Mrs Miller’s footage.

“It’s absolutely fantastic,” said Mrs Miller. “I’ve found that people have been so generous.

“I think what appeals to people is the fact that we are a small charity and all the money goes to where it says it is going.

“Sometimes with the larger charities you’re not sure how much is gobbled up by administration costs. That’s not the case with us.”

Her next trip to India is planned for January.