FUNDRAISING can sometimes be a one-off event, but for one woman it has become a way of life after meeting an Indian doctor more than 50 years ago.
Jill Simpson has dedicated her life to raising money for the poor, needy and elderly in India. She has so far raised about £12,000 and has helped to set up and run eye camps and one of the first hospices in Puttur, in Karnataka.
“To see their faces when they can see is amazing,” Jill said about the eye camps, where she has helped to distribute prescription glasses.
“They can then at least see that the rice they are eating is clean.
They give you a huge beam and it is just so humbling.”
Jill, who lives in Ryton, first visited India in 1997, 36 years after meeting Indian doctor Meera Prabhu while she was a student at Hull Royal Hospital. They became friends and Jill also became friends with Meera’s aunt, Dr Gowri Pai, when they came to England to visit Jill in 1985.
During her first trip to India, Jill visited the Anandashram Seva Trust in Puttur, founded in 1995 and which was run by Gowri, and was so moved by what she saw that she has been fundraising for it ever since.
Run as an “old-age” home and hospice, with some facilities for children, the trust has benefited from Jill’s help, so to say thank you, Gowri named a room in the hospiceafter Jill’s home. Jill said: “She is such a lovely, lovely lady. She was a gynaecologist, but she is 76 now and retired. I phone her once a fortnight, so we regularly keep in touch and when I go over there I am welcomed as one of their own family. For the small bit I have done for them I have been repaid one thousand times more in their kindness.”
Jill, who is 72 this year, hopes to go back to Puttur this year or next.
She said: “When you get out there, the gratitude you get is just so, so humbling. Everyone is just so welcoming.
I am treated as family.”