BBC Songs of Praise's Pam Rhodes to host event at Peterborough Cathedral for World Leprosy Day

Presenter Pam Rhodes, the face of the BBC’s Songs of Praise for more than 30 years, will host a free talk in Peterborough Cathedral on Sunday 27 January.

Pam will speak about her recent visit to Nepal, a country recovering from the devastation of the 2015 earthquake which killed 9,000 people, leaving an already poverty-stricken nation still struggling to rebuild lives.

Having recently taken up the position of Vice-President of The Leprosy Mission, Pam visited the charity’s Anandaban Hospital in the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal.

Anandaban Hospital became a recognised disaster response centre by the Government of Nepal, following the earthquakes with Leprosy Mission staff providing medical care, emergency shelters and relief packages to more than 18,000 earthquake victims.

There is terrible prejudice and misunderstanding surrounding leprosy in Nepal but Pam will speak about the opportunity The Leprosy Mission has to end leprosy in Nepal as a result of the earthquake.

She said: “Since the 2015 earthquakes patient numbers have doubled at Anandaban Hospital. Many of the staff lost their homes but there were people dying and seriously injured around them.

“Then there were casualties coming in from Kathmandu, the nearest city. Leprosy patients were giving up their beds for these trauma patients. It made me think that these leprosy patients were rejected by these communities but here they were opening their hearts to them.

“The earthquake has changed everything and we cannot go back from there. There is a cure and the medical knowledge to stop leprosy in its tracks. Eventually it will stop completely but our fight is with stigma and ignorance first. We have to work until we are not needed anymore and what a wonderful thing that would be.”

The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Donald Allister, also a Vice-President of The Leprosy Mission, will lead the launch event of the charity’s Heal Nepal campaign at Peterborough Cathedral at 5.30pm on Sunday 27 January where Pam will speak.

Heal Nepal will find, cure and heal people with leprosy in a bid to rid the country from this ancient disease. This may mean reaching people with leprosy through outreach teams before they develop permanent disabilities or caring for them for months at Anandaban Hospital while their wounds heal and they undergo life-changing surgery.