A FORMER Gurkha soldier is climbing a Mid Wales mountain 60 times to celebrate turning 60 and to raise vital funds to help save a school in his native Nepal from closure.

Mahadev Thapa, known affectionately as ‘Dibby’, has vowed to climb popular Pen y Fan 60 times by his birthday, on September 22. Mahadev is raising money for the Wales Air Ambulance and Sunrise Primary School in his hometown of Yanchok, which was opened by his grandfather more than 60 years ago.

Powys is a huge tourism hot spot for hikers, with the popular summit of Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons attracting walkers from all over the UK. Standing at 886 metres, it is the highest peak in south Wales and the highest British peak south of Cadair Idris in Snowdonia. What makes Mahadev’s task even more daunting is that he’s chosen to attempt his feat in just 45 days, having made his first attempt on August 9.

“I am walking to the summit of Pen y Fan 60 times in 45 days between August 9 and September 22 in celebration of my 60th birthday and to raise funds for the Wales Air Ambulance and Sunrise Primary School,” said Mahadev. “Any support or shares would be welcome.”

One of Brecon’s most respected Nepali residents, Mahadev and his family have been supporting the school ever since it was built in 1955 by his grandfather, after he had left the Gurkha Army. His family boasts four generations of Gurkhas, including his son who is currently part of the regiment. Mahadev moved to Brecon in 2007 after a 15-year career with the Brigade of Gurkhas, serving as a Queen’s Gurkha Royal Engineer and then in the Brunei Government’s Gurkha Reserve Unit.

County Times:  Mahadev Thapa is raising funds to help save a school in his Nepali home town from closure Mahadev Thapa is raising funds to help save a school in his Nepali home town from closure

Since 2008 he has worked for Powys County Council in the maintenance and then highways departments. He has taken the lead in looking after Brecon Cemetery and its surrounding areas. He spent his own time creating flower beds around the chapel within the grounds and, during the Covid-19 pandemic, he took it upon himself to maintain the Gurkha path along the river Usk in town. He ensured that the overgrowth was cut back and the wooden bridge and step structures repaired following flooding.

Sunrise is in danger of seeing the sun set on it as the authorities in Nepal want to close it. This would mean local schoolchildren having to travel for miles by foot to receive their education. The school urgently needs money to retain teachers and purchase IT equipment.

Brecon mayor John Powell said: “I have walked up Pen y Fan to support Mahadev with his challenge. He has done so much for our community here in Brecon, it is my pleasure to support him.”

Mahadev has currently raised £535 towards his cause. If you would like to donate towards the Wales Air Ambulance or Sunrise Primary School in Yanchok, visit his fundraising page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mahadev-thapa or contact the Nepalese Fund account holder Gwyneth Evans at Natwest Bank using the sort code 51-81-27 and account number 86726692.

A bucket collection for both charities will take place in Brecon town centre on Friday, September 10. Anyone wishing to accompany Mahadev on his walks are welcome to contact him on 07920 473772.