IT’S uplifting to think that cake bakes, Christmas fairs and donations made in churches in Great Ayton, Stokesley and East Cleveland are having a profoundly positive effect on the lives of Darjeeling’s poorest children.

Great Ayton resident and former Stokesley School teacher Helen Jones set up Roseberry School in the mountainous tea-growing region of India ten years ago after hearing of the barriers to education children from the slums and deprived backgrounds in the region experienced.

She set up the school and the charity which supports it, School Aid India, with the help two residents from the Indian region, never envisaging that ten years later that it would develop into what is perceived as the best school in Darjeeling.

The charity doesn’t just fund the bricks and mortar and equipment the children need, but also recruits passionate, dedicated local teachers who use the latest teaching methods to get the best out of students.

After her last trip Helen brought back essays written by children in the school – some of whom live without running water or toilets and trek for up an hour a day to reach her school. The essays, written in flawless English, describe how they intend to become teachers, journalists and solicitors when they grow up.

Other students have now gone on to secondary school where they are flourishing - and it's all thanks to generous people living locally in North Yorkshire and the North-East, who largely fund the charity.

If you want to see how a small amount of money can dramatically turn around the life chances of children born with odds are stacked against them, then Helen’s hard work is a fantastic illustration.