ShelterBox has met HRH Prince Harry twice in the last year, once in New Zealand last May and again at the Royal Film Performance in London, last October. With its long experience of responding to Nepal’s earthquakes, little surprise that ShelterBox was invited to help plan the Royal tour.
HRH Prince Harry of Wales is visiting Nepal for the first time, undertaking a tour until Wednesday 23rd March. Nepal suffered two major earthquakes in April and May 2015. Prince Harry’s website says, ‘He has a huge amount of admiration for the resilience of the people of the country, particularly in response to the earthquakes last year. During the visit he will learn how the country has been recovering over the last twelve months.’
This is an official visit on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, marking the bicentenary of bilateral relations between the two countries.
Cornwall-based ShelterBox, a disaster relief agency specialising in emergency shelter after natural disasters, responded to the quakes with months of aid provision and partnership working. Their teams took tools, repair kits, tents and school materials to many sites across Nepal.
In May 2015 ShelterBox also formed an alliance with Royal Gurkha Rifles Light Role Battalion to provide aid to very remote mountain communities. On Tuesday Prince Harry will be introduced to the home of the Brigade of Gurkhas, saluting the extraordinary bravery and commitment they have shown over 200 years. HRH served with the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles during his tour of Afghanistan in 2007-8, observing, ‘When you know you’re with the Gurkhas, there’s no safer place to be.’
ShelterBox was very honoured to be invited by Prince Harry’s aides to a recent meeting at Kensington Palace to help plan the current Royal Tour of Nepal.
Operations Team Lead Andrew Clark attended, as one of ShelterBox’s in country co-ordinators during the charity’s response to the earthquakes. Andrew is a former Parachute Regiment army officer, and his previous roles have included Chief of Operations during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He has also worked as a Defence Consultant advising NATO and mentored Afghan National Security Forces on missions in Helmand Province.
ShelterBox’s Interim Chief Executive Chris Warham says, ‘It was a great honour for ShelterBox to be called on to advise on this Royal Tour, and for our experience in Nepal to be recognised at this level. Last year ShelterBox was invited to benefit from the proceeds of the Royal Film Performance as a result of our role in helping the Nepalese people to recover from last year’s tragic events. Andrew and his response team colleagues are very experienced in this area, and it is a great credit to ShelterBox to be able to share that experience with Royal aides.’
Last May HRH Prince Harry also met one of ShelterBox’s response team volunteers, Jimmy Griffith. This was at the New Zealand Governor General’s reception in Aukland’s Government House, part of a week-long Royal visit following Prince Harry’s month’s training with the Australian armed forces. It followed ShelterBox’s response to Cyclone Pam which devastated the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.
In Nepal Prince Harry will highlight the importance of conservation-based tourism in Nepal, and towards the end of his visit will learn about Nepal’s future through its young people and the challenges and opportunities they will experience in the years to come. Alongside its shelter-based aid, ShelterBox also distributed School Boxes to Nepal’s orphanages, each containing education equipment for fifty pupils. A tent was also given to a local children’s art therapy organisation creating a safe, friendly resource where children could overcome the trauma of the earthquakes.
At the end of the tour on Wednesday, HRH will visit the Kanti Children’s Hospital in Kathmandu, where he will meet child patients who were injured in accidents at camps for families displaced by the 2015 earthquakes. In April 2015 the immediate use for ShelterBox tents already stored in Kathmandu was as outdoor clinical space for damaged hospitals.
The tour will end with a reception at the UK Embassy in Kathmandu, hosted by H.E. Ambassador Richard Morris.
Learn more about ShelterBox at: www.shelterboxaustralia.org.au