About us

The story behind the Venkat Trust

Sylvia Holder first met Venkat on the beach at Kovalam almost 30 years ago. The bright but very poor 12-year old boy asked her for £10 for his next year’s school fees, which his family couldn’t afford to pay. On the spur of the moment she offered to put him through school and university – a challenge he seized with delight and enthusiasm.

They kept in close touch over the years. Venkat proved to be a hard-working student, who did well at school. He went on to graduate from Madras (Chennai) University and later, with a loan from Sylvia, to set up his own business.

Then, at the age of 27, just when his future looked bright and all his efforts were beginning to show results for him and his family, he was killed in a road accident.

Determined that something positive should come out of Venkat’s untimely death, she decided to set up the Venkatraman Memorial Trust. In February 2004 she went back to Kovalam with friends, to see how best to help the village in the form of a lasting memorial to this courageous young man.

It was not a difficult decision. The local primary school, the Panchayat Union Middle School, was ill equipped, over-crowded and under staffed and initially the Trust focused efforts here. Since then, things have moved on and the Trust is now also involved in many other aspects of the education of Kovalam’s children, the details of which can be found under the What We Do section of this website.

Listen to Sylvia describing the Trust’s work on BBC Radio Four’s Saturday Live (45.46 into programme). The story of how her meeting with Venkat led to the Trust in his name was published in The Sunday Telegraph’s Stella Magazine