Joanna Lumley ‘honoured’ by Nepalese welcome

Author: By Paula Fentiman, Press Association

The star, who played a pivotal role in a campaign to allow those who fought
for Britain to settle here, was mobbed by well-wishers and the media as she
flew in to Kathmandu from London yesterday.

After meeting Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, she told reporters it was an
“honour” to be welcomed by him.

“I would like to say what an honour it was to meet the prime minister who was
so gracious to us,” she said.

“He made a wonderful speech of welcome and he was pleased with the work we
have done for the Gurkha veterans.”

She later addressed a meeting at the capital’s city hall and was due to meet
President Dr Ram Baran Yadap.

Her schedule for the day also included afternoon tea with the British
ambassador to the country Dr Andrew Hall, before laying a wreath at a war
memorial near the Embassy.

Yesterday Ms Lumley – who is travelling with Gurkha Justice campaigner Peter
Carroll – was draped in garlands and colourful scarves and presented with
bouquets of flowers as she made her way through Kathmandu Airport.

People thronged the building’s exit waving banners praising the actress.

To the delight of the crowd, some of whom had queued for hours to catch a
glimpse of the star, Ms Lumley issued the traditional Gurkha war cry to her
waiting fans.

One sign read “Ayo goddess Joanna”, or “Here comes goddess Joanna”.

She told the noisy crowd: “My friends of Nepal, I am your family coming to
Nepal for the first time. I want to thank you so much.

“I want to say in the time-honoured cry, ‘Ayo Gurkhali!”‘

Ms Lumley, whose late father was an officer in the Gurkha regiment, said a
great injustice had been righted when the Government finally relented in May
and said all Gurkha veterans with four years’ service would be allowed to
move to the UK.

Mr Carroll said he expected to be completely overshadowed by Ms Lumley,
although he is well known in Nepal for launching the campaign.

He approached Ms Lumley after a women in Kent tapped him on the shoulder and
suggested he ask her to get involved, he said, adding: “The rest is history.”

Tomorrow Ms Lumley will visit Jhapa and Dharan to meet Gurkhas. Mr Carroll
said some people are expected to walk for three days just to be there.

The group will visit Pokhara on Wednesday to meet members of the charity the
Gurkha Welfare Trust and will stay in the city on Thursday to meet Gurkhas’
widows and address a meeting at the city hall.

On Friday, Ms Lumley will visit Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, before
flying back to Kathmandu to visit homeless children and orphans at the Maiti
Nepal project.

The group is due to fly back to the UK on 1 August.

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