Every penny donated goes to the Venkat Trust. All UK costs are met by the Trustees.
The Venkatraman Memorial Trust came about because of a chance meeting on the beach at Kovalam, a poor fishing village near Chennai, South India. UK business woman Sylvia Holder met Venkat, a 12-year old fisherman’s son. She offered to pay for his education although she didn’t expect him to stay at school much longer.

Against all the odds, 12 years later he graduated from Madras University, a remarkable achievement for such a disadvantaged boy.
Their unlikely friendship over the years was tragically cut short when Venkat was killed in a road accident at the age of 27, just as his career was blossoming.

Sylvia felt compelled to do something in his memory to make sense of his far too short life and in 2004 she set up the Venkat Trust to bring education to Kovalam.

She runs the UK operation while Venkat’s brother, Janakiraman, known as JR, is responsible for the sharp end in Kovalam.

This year the Trust celebrates its Coming of Age and the following chronicles its progress over the past 18 years.
18 years of changing lives in Kovalam
Our aim was to see that every child in Kovalam got an education which would enable them to have life changing opportunities and see the end of poverty. At the start of 2004 there was just one dilapidated primary school.  
Down came the old buildings, up went new ones, in came professional teachers.  
We were only a few months old when the Tsunami struck on December 26 2004. We set up the Kovalam Tsunami Appeal and built 25 boats at a pop-up boat yard on the beach. 
In 2005 we launched our sponsorship scheme to improve the welfare of the poorest children. Since then thousands of children have benefited from improved welfare and life-changing opportunities.
Needing more space, in 2006 we bought land for the Venkat Tuition Centre for our offices and an overflow for the Primary School.

GOODBYE POVERTY. IT'S CALLED EDUCATION. Watch the video of the VMT story heree
Find out more at www.venkattrust.org.uk
In 2006 JR was elected to the important position of President of Kovalam, in recognition of his work for the Venkat Trust and was to remain in office for ten years.
Yet another building went up in 2007 - a shady open-sided Dining Hall where the Primary School children could escape the sun to eat their lunch. In 2008 we completed our improvements for the school with the construction of the two storey Ganesh Building.
It was time to move on to our biggest initiative – the building of a much needed high school to enable all the village’s children to continue free schooling to university age. In 2009 the Government accepted our plans to build a high school large enough to accommodate a thousand students. The pupils-to-be marked out the shape and size of the school.  
Our first sponsored children went to university in 2010, an unbelievable dream come true. Since then hundreds of our sponsored young people have got good degrees, the first ever in their families to do so, and thus good jobs, breaking down the poverty barrier which previous generations have only ever known. The literacy rate in the village went up from 60% to 95%.  
After many months of bureaucratic delays, work finally started on the High School in 2011.

The first of our annual sponsored children's sports days was held.
In 2012 founder trustee Sylvia Holder was awarded The Times Sternberg Active Life Award for her work in Kovalam.  
The High School opens at last
To much rejoicing, the High School finally opened for the first 250 pupils in 2013, the village at last had its own free school for high school students. Among the schools in the surrounding 50 villages, Kovalam came top for academic results, school maintenance and attendance. The Primary School was the top school (a far cry from 2004).  
To celebrate our tenth anniversary, the first Curry Lunch was held in the UK in 2014 for our supporters.
Two new wings at the High School opened in 2015 for a state-of-the-art science lab, a 5500 book library and more classrooms. 
The Janakiraman Community Hall opens
Yet another building was needed and in 2016 the first phase of the enormous 90’x40’ ground floor of the Janakiraman Community Hall was opened to accommodate the get togethers of the ever increasing number of sponsored children. 
In 2017 another VMT First for the High School – a snooker table, donated by a supporter, much to the delight of enthusiastic boys and girls who have since done well in State tournaments. The two top players were guests at the Indian Open Tournament and winner John Higgins presented them with his cue chalk and bowtie.
The English Language audio visual lab opened in 2018 and has been responsible for a huge improvement in spoken and written English. Another First for us.

Generous supporters donated cricket nets, a bowling machine and the first ever Government High School bus.
Sylvia Holder was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the 2018 New Year’s Honours for
“services to education in Kovalam, India”.  To celebrate her 80th birthday, 46 VMT supporters visited Kovalam to meet their sponsored children and see the Trust’s work.
The University Club opened in 2019 on the second floor of the JR Community Hall, which also houses the Trust Offices, language lab, music room, model railway and library. 
Another First for VMT - in 2020  girls’ cricket got an enthusiastic welcome at the High School.
Watch Kather Mytheen's story here.
2020 was still young when the Covid19 pandemic put in its unwelcome appearance and schools and colleges were closed. We launched an appeal for help for food and medical supplies which were distributed by JR and Ali in protective clothing. Our university students were hampered by having only mobile phones for their online tuition until we provided laptops for them.
Find out more at www.venkattrust.org.uk
Although 2021 was another grim Covid year, the good news was that the High School was promoted to Higher Secondary School with a sixth form. The now nine-years-old High School had enjoyed an excellent reputation for its academic and sporting successes in a happy, stimulating atmosphere and its new status prompted and increase of more than 400 new pupils, many of whom come from other villages.
Watch Muthumani's story here.
Now we are 18
After two years of extensive lockdown, life happily returned to normal in 2022, our Coming of Age. A six classroom extension is already open and work is underway on the 12 classroom block to accommodate our larger numbers. Many pupils come from outlying villages, made possible by the daily school run by our newly acquired second school bus.
How to help the Venkat Trust
We're currently fundraising to pay for the additional teachers needed for the all the new Higher Secondary School pupils. They each cost £200 a month and any contribution, however small, (mindful of the extraordinary times we live in) would be very gratefully received.
New supporters are always very welcome. Sponsorship costs £14 a month and our Administrator, Aarthi, will be happy to send details, contact
Standing orders and one-off donations for our many and ever increasing costs would also be much appreciated. 

BACS donations: Venkat Trust, sort code 40-24-10, account number 11349406; online donations: https://www.justgiving.com/venkattrust; cheques: Venkat Trust, 12 Westbourne Gardens, Hove BN3 5PP. 

The Venkat Trust is a registered charity No.1104363
The Venkat Trust, 12 Westbourne Gardens, Hove BN3 5PP
Tel: 01273 719362
UK Trustees: Sylvia Holder, Lindsay Swan, Sarah Da Silva, Nick Goslett, John Whelan
Kovalam Trustees: Janakiraman (JR), M. Ali