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Joanna Lumley visits Ashford School to support the Gurkha Peace Foundation

By Vicky Castle

Actress and self-titled 'daughter of Nepal', Joanna Lumley, paid a visit to Ashford over the weekend.

The Absolutely Fabulous star and long-term supported of Gurkha rights voiced her support for the Ashford-based Gurkha Peace Foundation.

Lumley, 70, dropped into Ashford School, in East Hill, on Saturday afternoon to meet hundreds of Gurkha families and veterans.

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Joanna Lumley

She was greeted one-by-one with colourful scarves, hugs, kisses and a chorus of ‘Namaste.’

After a quick Q&A with the Nepalese community about the peace foundation, Lumley made her way to Ashford International hotel, where she was the guest speaker at a fundraising dinner.

Speaking exclusively to the Kentish Express, the actress, activist and author, said: "I’m here to celebrate the Gurkha Peace Foundation. We’re raising money for this wonderful cultural peace centre, which is going to be in Ashford.

Joanna Lumley received hundreds of colourful scarves

"The idea is to integrate the two countries – Nepal and Britain – evermore closely. For 200 years the Gurkhas have served faithfully and loyally in the British Army and now are allowed to reside here.

"The peace foundation’s aim is to make life a little bit easier. For the older veterans that’s with barbecues and parties, teaching and learning languages. For the younger people it’s about integrating schools."

Lumley, who was brought up in Kent and went to Mickledene School in Rolvenden, is referring to work that has already been seen in Cheriton.

VIDEO: Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley supports Ashford-based charity

The Folkestone-based children have been Skyping youngsters in Nepal, who’s Himilayan School was badly damaged by the earthquake in April last year.

Lumley was born in Kashmir and travelled around the world with her British Army soldier father who served with Gurkhas.

She added: "The Gurkha community is so important to me because I am the daughter of Nepal, simply for the reason that my father was a Gurkha and all his life he was a regular soldier.

Over 100 Nepalese people greeted Lumley

"My early life has been patterned as being part of the big Gurkha family.

"We hope to get more and more people involved because we want to spread the peace foundation right across the country.

"We are treated with the warmest welcomes when we go to Nepal so lets have the courtesy and the sweetness of heart to make them as welcome as we are there, here.”

Many people wanted to hug her

But with an ever-busy schedule ahead, more TV series in the pipelines, another film on the way and even a three-part documentary on India coming soon, Lumley said we probably won’t be seeing more of her in Kent.

She added: "I wish I could spend much more of my life in Kent but the truth is I’m ripping off to do another thousand things.

"But this is my home, so I do love coming back here."

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