The John Holmes Educational Trust for Eritrea is a small charitable trust based in Leeds. The objectives of the trust are to advance the education of the pupils at rural village schools in Eritrea by providing better facilities for education.
The trust started with two friends, Jane Plastow and John Homes, raising money to provide a small number of computers for the school, a TV and solar panels to power them. When John suddenly died in 2008, Jane was determined to continue the work they had started.
In 2011, with five trustees, Jane, Sian, Sat, Will and Jo, we achieved Charitable Trust status and now rely completely on the work of the trustees and other supporters to raise money for each project through sponsored activities, charity dinners and donations.
Each year, we organise a physical challenge or a social event. For the challenges, we raise money through friends and family sponsoring us and for the social events, people in the local community buy tickets & businesses provide us with a venue, food, raffle prizes and entertainment free of charge.
An international bank, Santander, has matched our fundraising for the last 4 events, allowing us to double our money.
John Holmes was born and brought up in Guiseley on the outskirts of Leeds. Despite his working class background, his father had a love of books and a passion for education. It was from this that John inherited an omnivorous love of knowledge; astronomy, languages, local history, opera, music, cookery and world cultures are just some of the topics about which John seemed to know more that anyone else! John’s first degree was in Chemistry but he then went on train as an English language teacher and with this he began to travel.
In the 1970s, John lectured in Kosovo, became fluent in Albanian and acquired a lifelong interest in the area. This led, in later years, to John becoming involved in the founding of the Balkans Peace Park. In the 1980s, John was an ODA advisor on the Brazilian national ESP project. He learned Portuguese which was vital when he moved on to become a teacher training advisor in Angola. It was there that he met his partner of 28 years, Pedro Duarte. In the 1990s, it was newly independent Eritrea’s turn. John became head of English at the University of Asmara, before the outbreak of war forced him to flee the country and take up a job at the University of Leeds.
From 2000 to 2007 John worked closely with the Asmara Teacher training Institute on a project tracking the progress of newly qualified teachers in rural areas. With trustee and founder Jane Plastow, he developed a project promoting child-centred learning and the use of culture in Eritrean villages. They also began to support the village of Bogu, successfully raising money to install solar power, a TV and computers.
Sadly, John died suddenly in 2008 but the Trust is named in memory of him and it continues his work to improve educational opportunities for children in rural Eritrea.