A recent return to Gan for one former member of Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) has reportedly been the inspiration for a fund aiming to strengthen medical facilities on the island.
Richard Houlston, from Devon in the UK, spent a year of his RAF service in Addu Atoll between 1969 and 1970, where he worked to maintain transmission equipment to support a nearby British airbase operated from Gan, reports the Express & Echo newspaper, published in Exeter in the UK.
Speaking to the newspaper, Houlston said that the Gan Scholarship Fund, which hopes to raise about £10,000 (Rf202,664) to provide training and equipment in order to try and boost medical facilities in the area, was formed after a visit to the island by 28 airmen the island earlier this year.
After being greeted and looked after by the people of Addu Atoll during a visit, which also included time for a spot of diving, Houlston said the airmen were concerned by the standards of healthcare available to local people.
“There is a hospital on the island of Hithadhoo, where I was working, but it struggles to give anything more than a basic service,” he told the paper. “The closest proper hospital is in India, over 1,000 miles away.”
At present, Houlston said £1,600 (Rf32,000) has been raised for the fund.
The RAF were based at Gan from the early 1950s to the mid 1970s.